Friday, October 23, 2009

The Joy Diet - The faces of Risk

You can listen to my musical response to facing risk while you read this post by clicking the play button below.

Facing Risk - improvisation#1 on D (for Desire)
Helen Yee, violin ©2009

Maybe the Joy Diet is working, or maybe I've gotten too truthful with myself to deny that my desire to create needs to be acted upon. It seems that Martha's goading to take a small scary step and to "walk into the monster's maw" has inspired me to face my fears and put something out there. What's there to stop me? The faces of risk:

1. The risk of "it's not up to my standards" -- Whether due to perfectionism or pride, not wanting to put work out in the world until it's just right has often kept me from starting. The prospect of creating a wonderful, genius work of art is daunting. I never feel prepared enough. There's often some piece of knowledge, or skill, or training, or achievement that I think I must have before I'm qualified to even attempt. So the blank page has often been the result.

2. The risk of "looking like a fool" -- And then there is the fear of being ridiculed or criticized. We all hope that our work will be well received, but it is painfully obvious that it makes no sense that the fear of bad reviews should keep me from creating. Martha's words need to stay with me: "Any risk worth taking is worth taking whether it leads to success or failure. The criterion by which you should decide which dangers to face, and which to avoid, is not your chance of succeeding but the depth of your desire." In my vision card for this week, the idea is to not focus on the nasty pointed teeth of the beast, but the heart's desire that can only be reached by passing through the fear.

3. The risk of "disappointing others" -- I think the earlier chapters in The Joy Diet, Truth and Desire, have helped me look within and really know what I feel and what I want or need. With a clearer idea of those things I have already found it easier (not easy but easier) to say no to people. And it has worked, keeping me from overextending myself, and lowering my stress and anxiety levels. Nonetheless, one of my small risks this week involved saying no to someone, and though it was difficult to do I was tremendously relieved once I'd done it.

These were my monsters, this week at least. I'm sure I'll put names to a few others as my experience with taking risks grows.

And what about my musical response to facing risk? While I play music regularly I have put off creating and sharing any new pieces of music for a long time. The audio clip above is my way of stepping into the monster's maw. It's not finished or perfect, it's not going to win a Grammy, and I might find it a bit disappointing, but it is far better than promising myself that someday I'll start writing again without taking action.

When I walked over to the stereo to start up the cello drone I had expected a nice bed of A, but somehow out came the D drone. In the interest of welcoming the unexpected and "collaborating" with the unplanned, I decided to just go with it. During my improvisation I tried to keep a spirit of walking to the edge of risk in the piece. What does it feel like to walk to the edge and take a jump? To find another edge and push at it a little more? How do I deal with feeling uncomfortable and a bit scared? It feels great to finally break an internal barrier that was keeping me from moving forward, no matter how small this scary step was. And now that it's out there, I wonder what I'll want to risk next...


  1. You can CREATE music? OoooooOOooooOOOoooOOooohhhhHHhhHhhHhH! Beautiful! Out of my kitchen´s silence and into my whole home it flew and flowed. Magical.

  2. I can relate to the risk of looking like a fool of myself. I forgot that she said we should measure by the depth of our desire whether to proceed. That's why i love reading each other's posts. It's like taking a highlighter to certain aspects of the week's theme. keep sharing your music. That was a joy.

  3. What a lovely piece of music - amazing! Thanks for taking the risk of sharing with us! I'm a great one for not doing unless I can it 100% right, well at least I used to be. I think I'm getting better at just letting go now! Progress is surely being made.

  4. Thank you for sharing your hearts desire. And taking the rick. Your music was creative and wonderful.
    I could feel each note.
    I too know what you mean by the freedom to say no.

    Have a wonderful week.
    I am only reading posts and not posting on this book any more.

  5. Beautiful. Thank you. Listening to your music was a lovely way to start my day.

  6. What an incredible experience to listen to music while I read your post only to find out a few lines later that it is your music.
    As I started reading your post I thought "helen yee" what a beautiful piece. I will check itunes to see if she has any music out. You are top notch and I thank you for sharing. As to your fears.....we all have them. Happily ignore them and keep listening to your innerself. Take Care!!!

  7. WOW... I must say... you rock! Your music, your collage, your words all speak volumes of your truth, and it's so beautiful to witness your stepping into your bigness and living out loud... brilliant!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your music. It is beautiful and I can hear passion just flowing from it.

  9. Oh! This music is beautiful. It truly made my morning. Thank you for sharing it.

  10. Helen your music is beautiful. You play brilliantly and I can feel so much emotion in this piece.

    Your post is also resonating with fear looking like a fool, or risking the judgment and criticism as do so many of us. But when you said that you fear what you create won't be up to your standards..that one really spoke to me. I really believe we can have our standards too high and that deprives us of the joy of creating just for the sake of creating. For the joy and happiness of making something that is our own...and then tweaking it or making changes where necessary. But also being able to see the most beautiful parts. It's the removing of those higher expectations (that have sometimes been put upon our shoulders by others) that allows us to just "do" what we feel from our hearts. ♥

  11. I relate so much to numbers 1 and 2. I feel like people might whisper "Who does she think she is? What does she know?" It's scary for me to even imagine looking inept or foolish.

    I love your collage!

  12. Thanks for sharing your journey with risk.
    Your musical piece is beautiful, I really loved listening to it while I read your post, it set the mood perfectly. May you continue to take those steps through the fear.

  13. I loved that you collaborated with the unplanned. Very inspiring :)

  14. Music such a nice addition to your post - AND you achieve a risk so beautifully!

  15. Helen, I am blown away by this post. Your visual image was great - I love the highflyers doing their thing with the monster salivating below them. One time at the Humor Conference in Saratoga I took a circus workshop - primarily because it was the one that scared me the most so I decided I must need it. And it was fantastic - we didn't do trapeze - did tight rope, but it was still so instructive and fun.

    And your music - breathtaking. I had visions of someone standing near a precipice, ready to take that leap of faith; it was so evocative. Love how you succumbed to the D that was already there, instead of forcing your way with the A.

    What a great journey you are on - we are on.