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...