Image source: www.cortosoftware.com
The passing of David Bowie (and Alan Rickman, and, and…) has got me thinking about the way I react to the achievements of those who die. When someone famous is no longer with us I have to look at their life’s work to relate to them now. That can be an overwhelming, awe-inspiring experience for me, no matter who they are.
As a productive creative person who is often disconnected from others, I always took consolation from the fact that someday people would be able to assess my entire output. I felt that I would then be connected with them in a way that I hadn’t been. I’ll even admit to wishing that I could be alive when that assessment occurred, to really connect with people over my life’s work.
What a stupid idea.
It finally struck me this week what I was really wishing for in that fantasy without realizing it: I planned someday to reach a state where people treated me like I was dead.
When I think of it that way, the enormous fallacy of the idea is revealed. Rather than connecting with me, a living, breathing person, people would instead connect with things I’ve done, the big unchanging representation of who I had been. Instead of taking joy from interacting with others, I would be like a kind of zombie, standing there watching people interact with the work I’ve done, unable to truly connect with them at all.
I’d be lonelier than ever.
I’d feel as though who I am, what I have to offer, would be completely nonexistent, that anything I did in the present wouldn’t exist. I would be disconnected like I am now, except that I’d be so eclipsed by that ball of dead me that I’d have no hope of emerging. That isn’t really what I want.
That leaves me to contemplate an alternative. Stop leaving my poems, songs, stories in the closet. Decide what’s good that I’m doing, and commit to sharing it.
And then, if it becomes successful, taking the rewards and putting them to work, because the sharing is really what I want. The success would then ideally enable me to do more sharing, rather than be a pathway to the living death I’ve previously envisioned. In addition, I could aim for the right kind of success, and aim away from the wrong kind.
It’s all academic at the moment, but it’s nice to see the ridiculousness of something I thought I wanted for so long. Does it seem crazy to you that I wanted that? Do you think I’m missing anything now?