on doubt: another building block of the artist and also how i hate sharing

March 17, 2009 Candace Morris 5 Comments

i have a guilty pleasure.

when things get inter-relationally too voluminous for my small, introverted hands to juggle, i start to imagine a world where only the saint and i exist. we wander anonymously through the streets of Munich, interacting only with strangers and our benevolent barkeep. of course, i do not wish my life permanently void of those i cherish deeply, i just wish for a long vacation where everyone forgets i exist for a while. but don't we all feel this? i think it's called vacation; a time where all types of responsibility fall to the wayside in favor of solitude, bratwurst, luther, and ale.

you see, i am a classic and hopeless escapist.

one thing i seem to lack (that either others have a lot of or they pretend to and never speak of it) is an ability to deflect arrows (both intentional and misguided) shot my way. in the last couple of days, the arrow has taken the ubiquitous, molesting shape of doubt. this is not completely new to my psychological journey in the last few years; i have always been confident, but i recently purposefully took off that hat in order to authentically deal with the parts of me overshadowed by this confidence. and this week i have either come to a place where this is aggravated, or i am simply STILL not at the point where i can gather a holistic confidence in myself. oh the temptation to don the bravado of the past! it takes so much energy to purposefully stay in this state of vulnerability. but i do very much believe that it is worth it.

i trust with all my little soul that the integration of my sweet child and confident adult will produce a brilliance such as i have never known.

but what of this doubt?

this nagging morpher of other's words - who steals the soft, important embrace of celebrating others and whittles their sucess into the sharpest point, popping the wee balloon of confidence into which i had only just managed to blow. in fact, even compliments on my art have morphed into condescention and doubt.

who do i blame here? i truly believe in myself and my burgeoning art, but when i stop to look around at how i measure up to their progress, their exposure, their success or their praise, i go blind, cannot breath, and trip into the deepest abyss of doubt wherein i am left to lick my wounds and pray i never have to emerge or encounter another person's words ever again.

so what about when someone possesses a talent in the same area i posses? is the goodness of my work really defined by the talent of another? this cannot be. my being rings with the lie of such fabrication. and yet, it seems to be a trap i cannot escape.

and for all of these reasons, as the escape from a quiet hell of doubt, i fantasize away my pain, imagining instead a life with no influence, no one else who can do what i can do, no one to compare or threaten, no one to condescend in praise or submit in admiration.

are they hurting me?
am i hurting myself?

and then.
just in time,
and of course through literature,
i encounter the sweetest morsel of comfort,
the most helpful tidbit of redirection.

he takes my streaked, puffy face in his everlasting forest,
makes a chair for me in the brances of the rouge-bloom,
and puts my nose to book.

"And your doubt can become a good quality if you train it. It must becoming knowing, it must become criticism. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perhaps bewildered and embarrassed, perhaps also protesting. But don't give in, insist on arguments, and act in this way, attentive and persistent, every single time, and they day will come when, instead of being a destroyer, it will become one of your best workers-perhaps the most intelligent of all the ones that are building your life."
Rainier Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet, 102.

breathing deep the fragrant bouquet of security; aloft in his tree, above predators.
~little whit.

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