The Transformative Fuel of R e j e c t i o n
[WARNING: if you have ever experienced rejection you may relate and weep uncontrollably]
key words: sting, slap, dreaded lessons, fuel, resilience, redemptive
CONTEXT: This past week or there about I received a rejection from an art jury that none of the 12, count them, TWELVE pieces, I submitted, so beautifully framed I might add, would be accepted for a summer show.
Ouch. (YES, ALL 12, stop making me repeat it!!)
IT is frequently said, that whenever one door closes, another opens.
Well, I am not yet feeling the draft.
Oh how the weary world does like to leave it's textured patina upon our aging skin. No one gets out unblemished. Inside or out. Just days out of another substantial disappointment, I am reeling in the emotional line, shortening the leash of malcontent and focusing the tautness for a catch...too much slack and I have no power, to little, SNAP. The ancient story of trees surviving the storms of spring, flexibility required, strength a must. Branches sacrificed in the process.
Life continues to demand daily acts of courage from us, whether we are conscious of this or not. Sometimes all too evidently as when tragedy, illness or complex loss strike...but often, much subtler versions, like the daily struggle for momentum and motivation to simply show up, and, often, grow up, in the process.
But first, before we delve further, may I simply offer up a collective,
BIG, tired, discouraged, limp, full bodied release of an e m p t y i n g soulful S-I-G-H.
You see, we cannot leap fully into our next endeavour, truthfully and energetically, until we release the holdings of our tension, attachment, fear, hurt and judgement . 'Just what the heck does this (rejection) mean anyway? ' 'Does it define me?' Whispers ego 'Does it predict my demise? 'fear gasps,
'predict my aimless, dead future as an artist?' 'My futility in banal endeavours and mediocrity? '
' OH GOD NO!!! NOT THAT!!!' I Cry silently to no one.
And for a time, perhaps only a fleeting second, or mere minutes; maybe hours or a few days, we question.
We do sting. Because showing up is an act of courage. It is an act of heart. It is brave to be an artist. And it hurts to be in the cold shadow of rejection.
We do self doubt, worry, fear. We hand our power over to the jurors, the condemners of our fate; perhaps our ex, or our employer and we unconsciously say, “well you must know better than I what I am, what I am capable of...”
In a flash it occurs before we know what hit, tears instantaneous, shown or swallowed down in mustered pride; before the mind even digests the words, how does my body know so well?
The depths of the cut. The ego feels the slap.
We can stand off, defiant in the face of this embarrassment, “ do you not know who I am?” perhaps ripples across our otherwise humble ideas of self...hmmm, that's an odd reaction, we ponder in curious concern of our lurking megalomania.
But ego lives in us all, the same and identical ego. Individuality doesn't live here, nope, our soul has our true blueprint.
If we are listening. (insert last blog here.)
Yes, we are called to listen again. Listen to the sounds and signs that will lead us out of the dark questioning of disappointment. The story book forest of trolls and gremlins, larger than life shadows, claws and looming darkness.
Rejection I'm afraid, may only be a paper cut, but oh how it does sting.
We are all, at times, both the jury and the juried. Acknowledging this, we must recognize the trappings of judgement, closing off and shutting down. SOUL, and that is where creativity lives, is EXPANSIVE. Judgement and rejection, on the other hand, constricting.
IF left unchecked or unacknowledged, the experience of rejection can run the potential to distort our better judgement or throw us into a fit; running the risk of tantrums to indignant denial heightens, triggering as well, past losses and rejections that amplify our ailing identity, or,
preferably sometimes teach us simply, to roll with the punches. This latter option is for the very graceful or, 'em, sometimes, the well rehearsed. Therein lies the essence of resiliency.
The dreaded lesson? Simply practice. Practice getting back up off our knees, straightening up, dusting off and quietly walking on toward our next....?
'DOH!!!!” THERE it is again, the next what??? Fear lurks, jumps us innocently walking by; we struggle, wrestle to the ground.
THE UNCERTAINTY is the killer. The next....WHAT??? How we do love to know.
Actors face denial daily. Auditions, auditions, auditions. No thanks. “We'll call you.” Well, no wonder actors are notoriously painted as neurotic and insecure, let's cut them some slack!! Buskers may not make a dollar playing their hearts out all day....
Writers too, have stacks of rejection letters from publishers, politely declining hard won tomes and prose. Indeed, I have my very own stack to show you one day over high tea and tears.
“It's not you, it's me.” the zeitgeist tag line of universal recognition; succinctly encapsulating the head game of human REJECTION.
It does beg the question, Why do we create? Why do we sustain such continued injury? It is me, isn't it?
WHY then indeed, Why do I create, Why do I paint, draw, dance, sing, write.....Should I give up?
Do I quit? Does the world want me to stop? Should I be baking cake instead?
For all it's joys, the creative process is not without its many pitfalls and rejection is perhaps the most fickle and potentially toxic one. We must guard against agreeing with those who would like to see us stop. (Let us not forget, sometimes that can also be cleverly disguised envy afterall)!
So on the heels of an art committee rejection I return to the drawing board. And encourage you to do so, whatever the nature of your possibly tattered ego state or recent run of rejections. What else can we do? It is our salvation and that is why it matters so much to us.
Even if you are riding the high of success, the dizzying heights of a strong successful platform, well, more power to you, please do lead the way....light the path for those of us temporarily spinning our wheels in the ditch.
I CREATE because I l o n g to add something of value. To my life, to the world, for those I love.
I create because I yearn to improve. To expand, to learn, to grow. I want to wake up over and over again, and resist my own consciousness falling asleep. I create because I have to express myself or I would simply shrivel into misery. I know that version of myself and trust me, you don't want to meet her.
To create is in our bones.
It is our soul blueprint. Our resolve must be to get better and better until they can no longer turn their back on us. Until the doors of opportunity blow open with the force of a gale.....
So now what?
Now I am busy recolouring myself with crayons, or icing, depending on the mood, licking my wounds and infusing myself again with the colour of living; recapturing the fancy that fuels me, not just the pain. For me the scab has healed over, itchy now, it is giving way to the next generation of new creative cells which have healed another layer of sexy creative skin. The genius of DNA. The redemptive nature of healing. GAME ON.
SO if you have been rebalancing from any recent rejections, go ahead, sigh it out. EXHALE the disappointment, empty the trash. And then prepare, yes, prepare yourself.
Oh yes, haven't you heard, ' it's not over until the fat lady sings....'
SO take that art jury, I will have my cake AND eat it too, along with a pretty radioactive bright cherry on top should I so please.
OH, the Game (is definitely back) on!
Fall seven times, get up eight.