Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads. -- Erica Jong
As a mentor, I recently presented a tele-seminar for writers on the subject of finding their authentic voice and how to bring it into their creative writing process. What is one's authentic voice? It is the outward creative expression that rises from the authentic self, the sacred being we were (and still are) at the moment of birth; it is that place within us where the infinite intelligence of life has personalized itself, and its sole/soul desire is to push out and express itself in a multitude of unique ways. Every human being is a creative vessel through which this happens. The practice is to become aware that this is so and give voice to this divine push, each in our own authentic way. No doubt, creative writing is a deeply rewarding way to do this... but it's not the only way.
One of the questions that was asked during the tele-seminar was, "How can I overcome the fear that people may not like what I write?" In a heartbeat that question took me back to 1973: In my early, lean days attending college as a music major, one of the things I did to earn money was to teach music. My students ranged from eight to 80 years of age and their natural musical talents were often very high.
What I found the most frustrating about teaching was that, in many cases, I was able to recognize their true talent but they could not (or would not) see it in themselves. After six months of lessons some of them would throw in the towel. I believe that, for at least some of them, their own fear held them back because they knew if their music started sounding too good they would have to do something with it and -- in the process -- face the risk of rejection or criticism. We held recitals every six months, which would flush them out of their "box" or comfort zone. I saw so much awesome talent and potential choked back by the fear and uncertainty attached to being liked and approved of by others. This is the issue we must all dance with and overcome if we are ever to access our "authentic voice" and be who we were born to be and share the gifts we have come here to share.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." The song of which Thoreau is speaking is not music, it's the unexpressed authentic self, the creative essence of infinite Intelligence -- life itself -- seeking an outlet. What I learned from my students and from the pursuit of my own career as a writer and performer was that it requires courage to "sing our song" whatever it may be. That courage will indeed take us to the very edge of our comfort zone, that dark place called fear: fear of rejection, fear of failure, and perhaps, even fear of success. The only thing worse than failing at something is succeeding andￂﾠ not feeling worthy of the success, in which case we will inevitably find ways to undermine that success. Fear of failure and rejection on the other hand seems to be an issue (attachment) most of us have the opportunity to heal if we are going to be fully expressed in bringing the gift of who we are to life. It's like, "OMG, what will I do if they don't like my song?" Get over it! You are singing your song for you, not them! Your "song" may not be music at all, but it will be something that gives greater expression to your divine nature, to the creative life-force that flows through you.
Perhaps your unsung song is writing, dancing, sewing, juggling, gardening, cooking, mentoring, or __________ (fill in the blank). It may also be found and expressed through a new dimension in your career. Regardless of what it might be, as a mindfulness practice, make a commitment to share some talent or creative self-expression you have been holding back from the world with at least three people you trust and know that you are priming the pump; you are honoring the gift that is uniquely yours to share. You may be surprised at how easy it is when you connect with that sacred place within that knows how to "sing" your song and is not afraid of rejection or criticism -- that place is where your heart and soul commingle and it is where your authentic self dwells, awaiting your arrival.
Is it time to come to the edge of that dark place called fear and uncertainty and let your light shine? Are you being called to express your uniqueness? Finding your authentic voice is for naught unless you are willing to use it. When you live with a willingness to allow your authentic voice to be heard something mystical and magical begins to happen: Your heart opens and your soul soars because you are revealing who you were born to be. Indeed, sing your song for all you are worth... and trust me, who you are is extraordinarily invaluable. Why? Because you are one of a kind. THAT is how important your gift is to the world -- the world needs to hear your authentic voice. Now, the stage is yours... and they are calling your name.
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