I usually introduce students and clients to each other between lesson by way of cool tidbits. The other day I said, “Steven, meet Carolyn–she loves the American songbook and is a wonderful singer. Carolyn, meet Steven, he is also a voice teacher and is also a two-time Grammy award-winner!”
Carolyn was duly impressed, and as the brief conversation unfolded to include when those Grammies were won and for what, (2008 and 2012) Carolyn said “well, that WAS a while ago. What have you done recently?”
‘Scuze me, but WTFridge?
Lordy, I know we are perceived as only as “good” as our last major accomplishment–that college appointment, performance or tour, workshop taught, media article or pounds lost, but this comment really got under my skin. The monster that is the World Wide Web reenforces this mind-set every second of every day.
It is a mindset of judging others based on what they are churning out, as if that is the golden measure of skill, worthiness, integrity and tenacity. We live, not only in a violent, rape culture, but one that pays surface appreciation for the results of creativity and collaboration without valuing the time required for both.
That judgement from others is a massive reflection of the resounding and crippling judgement we have for ourselves. AND JUDGEMENT KILLS CREATIVITY and CREATES HEART WOUNDS.
As a life-long Creative, I live with this knowledge every day.
“She hasn’t done anything since she released that album 2 years ago.”
“He must be getting old because I haven’t seen anything about him in years.”
“He won a couple of Grammies but hasn’t done much since then.”
This attitude means “she/he isn’t relevant anymore/has lost steam/insert other moronic conclusion here.” As if the artist/teacher is a pampered cow, for others to milk and live off of.
This attitude reflects the hungry monster of consuming, consuming, consuming, and also the endless self-promotion and social media feed as part of the “cult of personality” we love. We have a presidential candidate that has risen in prominence solely because of his skills in all those areas.
We are good at that here in the United States. We are a nation of Pac-Men and Pac-Women, eating and consuming and demanding endless loops of SPLASH! to fill our empty, nervous spaces.
So here are five examples of responses for when someone asks you “What Have You Done Since Then?” or perhaps, more if the person is more enlightened, “What Are You Working On Now?”
- I am researching ways to cope more efficiently and joyfully with a chronic health issue. It is taking a lot of time and money, but what I have found out is—and this relates to my field because—
- I have sustained a free lance performing and teaching career, where I actually supported myself financially for (x) many years,–have you ever done that?–and am looking for ways to streamline my operation so I can have more time for (x).
- I am writing a series of articles on (x) to help people who are (x)
- I’ve been teaching, performing and caring for a family for (x) years, and have been constantly treading this super-human balancing act. As in agriculture, sometimes fields have to be left fallow to renew, and I am letting some of my fields lie fallow to renew by x, y, z.
- I am working with a consultant to combine my skills in music, teaching and yoga–which are now hot topics but I have the experience of combining them for 30 years–into a more modern brand that can compete with other, less experienced but technologically-savy generations, as long as I want to work.
How else can you verbalize your current status to reflect some of what is required to live life-long creativity and relevance in the marketplace while learning to truly love yourself?
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