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Emails to my Therapist

Fear, Daring, Working Blind

Being a magazine junkie, I was flipping through an old issue of American Libraries this morning, and a folded poster slid out, large enough to cover all the cartoons and taped items on a professor’s door.

It said: “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?” This quote from T.S. Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was writ large in celebration of last April as National Poetry Month.

Wisdom had actually fallen into my lap. And a dare: to say what I feel I’m here to say, and then “let the chips fall….”

Any writer or artist,innovator of any sort, risks making trouble. While I don’t believe in disturbance as a goal in itself, ideas and art run the risk of being upsetting. Of drawing fire.

The Categories of Disturbing Creativity

What provokes is something new that either:
*brings change in tow
*points out a previously unnoticed enticing alternative
*tampers with a revered tradition
*breaks a taboo
*exposes something we don’t want to know about ourselves
*insults an icon
*hurts feelings
*diminishes or devalues something that others have greatly invested in.

Most of these can be positive or negative. And it’s surprisingly hard to know in advance what the responses will be.

Also, it isn’t easy to disturb the universe these days. There are already lots of disturbing things going on, and we are able know them almost instantly. Getting a bit of attention can be like pushing a barge up a hill.

Even so, a lot of us hesitate in our work, worrying about the outcome, or trying to control it.

If I were to revise Eliot here–cheeky, I know, and the universe is no doubt trembling– I’d likely make the question: do I dare to steadily work, without knowing the outcomes?

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Categories: conquering fears, creative strategy

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