Thursday, May 03, 2007

performance art

I find myself wondering why the approval of others is so important to me. I'm not sure I entirely know the answer to that question, though working through co-dependency issues circles back to why I'm motivated to behave in certain ways, and that is a large part of it, or used to be. I need the pats on the back, the "good job", but is that why I do what I do? It has taken me a conscious and focused effort to be released from what scripture calls "the approval of men". Yes, I surely need some indication that I'm doing well or making other people happy if that is my intention. But my own path cannot be guided by the way others react to what I do or don't do for them.

It has been hard at times, really hard. I feel empty if I'm not doing. Doing for someone else, that is. Why can't I be content to do for God and myself? Much of my growing up experience taught me that good performance makes people happy and is rewarded. Causing problems, questioning the status quo, refusal to perform for it's own sake, not getting the grade just to get the grade-those things are bad because they cause other people to be disturbed or angry.

Over the past few weeks I've gotten honors and accolades for my artwork that in the past would have served as a tangible proof or reason for doing the type of work that I do. I have had to be willing to release the desire for awards and shows in order to give myself time to grow and learn. Admittedly, nothing makes me happier than getting an accept notice in the mail. I love that, absolutely love it. But it's a hollow thing if the effort is directed at receiving the piece of mail and not at putting together a body of work that consisently reflects my own creative spirit and character. I also did a double portrait this week that I think did reflect that. Not everyone will care for the expression or style. But I see growth in my painting.

It's harder still when it comes down to relationships. How do you love and regard someone and not get tangled up in trying to hold on to them with stuff? True maturity and trust in a relationship doesn't require that, but I often grieve for the passionate desire to please and care that seems to burn off and disappear into a friendship when it deepens. I feel almost resigned, and yet at the same time, how wonderful to not be a slave to another human being or make them feel suffocated by your own apparent needs-which really aren't that at all. It's like needing to throw away what attracts you to another person in the first place to let it be real.

It's taking time to get used to this. We're so conditioned by our culture to be performance oriented. It is taking me time to accept the idea that I don't have to. I can choose to, but if performance to someone else's tune is what is needed to be successful or loved, it really isn't worth the dance.


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