I was preparing to lead a breathworkshop at my healing space here in West Hollywood recently, and got inspired to download some new (new to my current iPod) music to to use in the work. And I ended up creating a playlist, which I haven't done in about four years...a rockin' playlist that hit the core of the evening's focus -- releasing the past as we wind down 2009.
Two of the Artists I called on are Michael Jackson ("Earth Song") and Whitney Houston ("I Didn't Know My Own Strength" and "I Look To You"). This inspiration that's moving so deeply for me around their work goes beyond the music and into their actual lived lives. Both of them have struggled intensely with insecurity and addiction fueled by and fueling the insecurity. Both of them have brought tremendous doses of inspiration, insight, and love to millions through their work. Both of them have been under nearly insurmountable public scrutiny.
I wholeheartedly assert that the public scrutiny is a reflection of the insecurity and the energy of no-possibility, no self-love attempting to cultivate more of the same, both in these artists as Messengers, and in the listening public to keep things mired in illusion.
I am committed to setting the Artists and Messengers free, those who are willing...starting with myself.
Anyone can criticize. This doesn't take much intellect, reasoning, self-development, or self-awareness. It's ordinary, boring, and pointless.
"People judge what they are and rarely what they're not..."
~ David Elliott
Who are You? Remember that feeling, that knowing, maybe not so far away...the one that gave you the sense that there is something for you to step into in this life, something that would call on all of your gifts, that might wake you up further in the process, that could bring immense possibility and real actual Love into the World?
Have you failed at anything? Are you carrying the feeling of that failure around anywhere in your body, emotions, or mind? Even if it's not in your conscious experience, do you sense this resistance, this bit of stuckness that reigns you in, that pulls you back from birthing all that you are into your work, your writing, your Art, your Loving, your relating, your Living Fully?
What if failure is just an "idea"? What if there's not something in stone called failure?
Look out at the trees....find me a "good" tree and a "bad" tree. No such thing in nature.
These designations of good and bad are projections of the human ego arising out of fear and insecurity designed for one thing and one thing only, to keep inner division alive, to keep you and I feeling separate from each other, separate from our Source, separate from Love...and seeking wholeness, but not finding it.
I've had thoughts about Whitney Houston pop up in my mind on and off for about a year now; ever since I heard she was returning to music and in the studio recording, wondering how her voice would be after all the drug use and suppression.
Cut to last week. I had my Mom visiting for Thanksgiving week. She's obsessed with that TV show, Dancing With The Stars, and the finale was on while she was here. Whitney sang two songs for the finale. She reminded me of a video I once saw of a freshly born calf wobbling attempting to use its legs for the first time, with sheer determination to do it, no matter what. Tears were streaming down my face as I watched and listened, not because of the music itself, but because of the love moving in my heart for this women who's been through hell and back in full public view. A woman who's music stayed alive in her and brought her back to her feet. A woman who is a messenger, and whose message is stronger than the energy of no self-love, of addiction and shame and guilt. A woman willing to pick herself back up and sing again.
Before I started downloading music, I googled "Whitney's voice," and at the top of the list was a blog post by a self-styled critic who named himself after a well-known heiress. The blatant self-hatred projected as acidic attack on this woman's re-awakened voice was nothing short of darkness and suppression.
Can she hit those same high notes with pristine clarity right now? Not yet. Maybe not again. But is technical skill the message of her music? Do I need to wait to write until I've gotten several PhD's in English and Writing before I let myself paint with words?
Creativity and Skill are not the same. Art conveys messages of so many flavors and degree. Artists have always been the forerunners of change and growth. Some have had well-developed technical skill, others have not. And who defines skill anyway? What's the set-in-stone metric for that? There isn't one! It's fabricated and agreed on in the public without much if any reflection on the Truth of it. It's used to suppress the Voice, to close down conduits for messages of hope and Awakening. Like so many great and powerful medicines, it's quickly co-opted and twisted by the human ego.
What's the remedy? Drop the criticism and get creating, cheerleading those who are brave enough to step out and create.
What inspires me more than skill in Whitney's latest album is the transparency in sharing her ongoing journey through darkness into expansion, into embodying self-love. It's the same thing that inspires me about Michael Jackson's music and message. And the energy of no-self love, fueled by public flaw-seeking, and very public shaming, ultimately ended the life of a leading edge visionary who's messages, while uplifting, were inconvenient to fully live by the same critical public.
We can never know the full truth about the life of another, particularly those in the public eye. After getting behind the curtain where the little wizard orchestrates the world of entertainment and media while I was working for Creative Artists Agency (CAA), my eyes were opened to the reality of these businesses. There is very little about the entertainment business that is not a business, and one highly invested in controlling, molding, and manipulating public perception. Public perception is its commodity, and he who controls perception controls the purse strings.
Just because something is on TV or in a magazine, doesn't make it the truth.
But how many times have you and I been led to believe something we saw in the media and create an opinion, maybe even an opinion with a great deal of emotion around it, about a particular artist? Can you know for certain that it's True?
Let It Go, Rise Up! Create! Share! Don't let the voice of the critic within stifle your creativity. Don't let lack of skill around your gifts keep you from sharing them. Skill comes from discipline; working with the tools of your craft consistently enough that your creativity moves effortlessly through them. That happens through time and effort. And it's completely worth it! The voice of the critic (and there are plenty out there if your looking for them) will always attempt to suppress this Flow.
The more you and I Create, and choose to create regardless of the voice of the critic, we will and are out-creating the suppression, are embodying and spreading the wings of Freedom.
These seeming "falures" of the past are the very medicine for awakening and freedom now. By engaging with the energy of these experiences that dot my past, free from judgment, in the willingness of self-love, I heal. And I heal not just myself, but all of my relations. These places I've fallen down in the past are the places that I teach from now. As I bring more Awareness to these places, they become fuel for Creation, for Love, for anything and everything.
"That by which we fall is that by which we rise."
~ Kularnava Tantra