Musings on creativity, expectations, surrender, and trust in your purpose.
Since 2018, I have published an article or a podcast every week. But I’d been publishing consistent content long before that date. I have had a few websites and publications along the way to frame and shape my interests and business focus over the last 15+ years.
My first published writings appeared on Gay Guide Toronto (which became TheGayGuideNetwork) under the column, “Flex,” in my early days as a personal trainer. That morphed into “Flex Your Mind” when I discovered personal development. Since then, I’ve published on my various websites: Integrated Fitness, All About Meal Planning, EatMoveBe, and lastly Th-Ink Queerly on Medium (all of which are closed or archived). Today, I submit my articles to various publications on Medium for reach. Then I re-publish them here on my website for posterity.
In June 2018, I launched my podcast, Living Out, which I renamed the Think Queerly Podcast after 100 episodes. With the 175th episode in the queue, I have published more than one episode per week since launch.
Why am I telling you this story?
I read an article by Steve Pavlina this week, “Being Appreciated as a Creator” that sort of annoyed me, in part because it’s true on one level:
“As tempting as it can be for creative artists who are first starting out, I encourage you to drop this idea of creating into a void and hoping to find an audience later. Find your starting audience before you create anything. A one-person audience is totally fine — plenty of room to grow.”
Pavlina is speaking as a creative entrepreneur. If you create something, but there’s no one to appreciate it, is there a point? If your initial desire was to make money, not having an audience is a problem. But what if you are compelled from something deep within who you are? What if you can’t help yourself but to dive deep into a subject that gives you life?
Many creatives have struggled with those questions, and it’s where I find myself today.
On a walk yesterday, I shared Pavlina’s thoughts with my partner and how I was struggling with waiting. An article about failure and success that I submitted to a publication was rejected, but the editor offered constructive feedback. I reworked the article into two parts and submitted part one last Friday, which is about the meaning of failure. Will this update be accepted or rejected? When will it be published if accepted? When can I publish episode 175, which speaks to said article? And finally, I am waiting because if it’s not published this week, I will have missed a week of publishing.
That’s a laundry list of too many expectations, unknowns, and things I cannot control. Do you ever feel like this? I do have a choice. My options are:
- Do nothing;
- Publish the article on my website and not get as many eyeballs on my message, or;
- Hold my damn horses because there’s nothing I can do to influence if or when another publication’s editor will accept my work.
I’ll take option 3, please! Talk about surrender and letting go! Thank you for another life lesson, universe.
This situation reminds me of a passage from Verse 9 of the Tao Te Ching:
“Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.”Mitchell, Stephen. Tao Te Ching: A New English Version. New York: HarperCollins, 1998.
This, in a very round-about way, brings me to my final point: my deep fascination with the Tao Te Ching. It’s been just over a year that, without conscious intent, I began a journey into contemplating and discerning the principles for living a good and humane life that are found in the Tao.
At first, I was looking for ideas to support my interest in queer leadership, but I was also open to whatever would show up. It wasn’t until I read verse 56 that my journey really began. This led to me adopting the term, Human-Heartedness (thanks to Alan Watts) which I felt was the raison d’être of what I was seeking to understand, develop, and share.
Unbeknownst to me, my idea started to take the most discernible shape in my recent, Where You Stand Moral Leadership Series. My original idea was to outline a framework of what could become a coaching project to help people establish their moral foundations and purpose in life to live into their greatest potential. To my newsletter subscribers, I had promised the fourth instalment last week, thinking this would be the last part of the series and would complete the construction of the idea.
However, Part IV seems to have taken on a life of its own. “Towards a Harmonizing, Universal Morality Based in the Tao Te Ching” is the title of the article and it should be published within the next two weeks. Here’s an excerpt that frames the larger idea:
Human-Heartedness is a unifying practice based in transcendent character traits and values. Practiced together, these values work towards a harmonizing, universal morality, a landscape upon which everyone can find a place of belonging and understanding.
What’s the moral of this story?
I can only speak for myself relating to my journey of developing a philosophy — a way of human-heartedness. There have been times of self-doubt and feeling like an imposter. What I have come to realize is that I have to trust. I have to trust that what I am doing feels right. If I’m not happy with the external manifestations in my life (money, possessions, where I live, etc.) then I have to change my approach or accept and trust that this passion project is who I am.
And if I don’t follow this path, will that make me a failure and lose trust in myself?
The Where You Stand Moral Leadership Series
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