Q. Where are you coming from?
A. To be honest with you, it varies from one moment to the next. Sometimes I’m coming from a place of peace and love toward all humanity. At other times, I’m coming from anger.
A. Well – I like to call it “righteous indignation.”
Q. Are you indignant at the moment?
A. No, not really.
Q. Are you coming from a place of peace and love toward all humanity?
A. Well, I wouldn’t say all humanity —
Q. Then where are you coming from at this moment?
A. A very pensive place. A place of thinking things over.
Q. Why is that?
A. I imploded the other day. I shut down from stress. I got to the point where the deadline, however self-imposed, was so much more important than any other thing in life — including my own self-care — that I literally shut down. I became non-functional. I imploded.
Q. Did anybody witness the implosion? Or was it completely internal?
A. Oh, it was seen all right! I wonder, however, if they knew the extent of it.
Q. Were you trying to hide it?
A. Yes and no. I didn’t hide the fact that I was upset about something. But I don’t think I conveyed the full extent of the inner implosion.
Q. Why not?
A. It would have been rude, ugly, and self-centered.
Q. So you suppressed it?
A. Well, I never exactly expressed it.
Q. What did you express?
A. Oh, some minor peeve that everybody knew I would get over in minute or two.
Q. But what was really going on?
A. Extreme insecurity. We all implode every now and then — but me personally, I prefer to implode in private.
Q. So you were afraid that they would detect your implosion?
A. Exactly. As I collapsed inwardly under the stress of pressure and deadline, I began to throw out smokescreens, in an effort to divert attention away from the implosion.
Q. Did it work?
A. I think so. I think they just thought I was irritated.
Q. What exactly do you mean by “implosion?”
A. Well – it’s hard to define. This graph, however, may be useful:
Q. Where did you get that graph?
A. Free Thesaurus.
Q. To which of those external manifestations did your implosion lead you?
A. What do you mean?
Q. I mean – on the circle there – did you explode? Did you go off? Did you collapse?
A. Almost all apply. But mostly, I think I “broke.”
Q. What did you break?
A. I broke my resolve. I broke my code. I broke my standard as to how I am to comport myself among the others.
Q. The others?
A. The other Artists. The Artists who were, at that moment, in my midst.
Q. What is your code?
A. I could write books about it.
Q. Can you capsulize?
A. I’ll try.
A. My code is not to be a people-pleaser. Not to say or do things because I am trying to get a favorable reaction from one or more of the other Artists. Obviously, I cannot please everybody. And in such a small, close-knit group, such measures — born entirely of personal insecurity — are transparent.
Q. Have you not only told me what your code is not?
A. Can you repeat that, please?
Q. I said: “Have you not only told me what your code is not?”
A. Ah, I see. I have in fact only told you what I aspire not to do.
Q. But what do you aspire to do instead?
A. I aspire to act according to the standard.
Q. The Moral Standard?
A. Well – that goes without saying. But it’s not the standard that is most applicable in this context.
Q. What standard is that?
A. The Aesthetic Standard.
A. I believe in an absolute aesthetic standard. Just as with morality — and in my view, ethics — there is a standard of Beauty for which we all must strive.
Q. How does this apply in the context of the Artists?
A. Because we’re trying to get it just right. We’re trying to make it as beautiful as we can make it. And if we fall short, we feel it. It drags down the energy of the whole room. When we come closer to it, we feel that too — and it lifts up our hearts.
Q. Wow — so, this people-pleasing of yours, it interferes with the striving for the standard?
A. Of course it does. People-pleasing is ugly. The standard is beautiful. But the gist of this discussion is merely this:
As long as I stay focused on our mutual desire to reach the highest Artistic standard, I will avoid my self-centered desire to make positive impressions on the other Artists. And then, ironically, I will probably make the best impression I can possibly ever make. Because it will no longer be I who seeks to impress. It will be that which I and the other Artists have mutually created.
It is that final Artistic product that I hope — that we hope — will impress the world.
The Questioner is silent.
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