Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday and henri

Hidden Greatness

There is much emphasis on notoriety and fame in our society. Our newspapers and television keep giving us the message: What counts is to be known, praised, and admired, whether you are a writer, an actor, a musician, or a politician.

Still, real greatness is often hidden, humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It is not easy to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. We must have strong self-confidence combined with deep humility. Some of the greatest works of art and the most important works of peace were created by people who had no need for the limelight. They knew that what they were doing was their call, and they did it with great patience, perseverance, and love.

This one is Henri Nouwen again. I post this one as it has been something I have been struggling with a lot this week. Just feeling very much like a big faker with my dreams and the doing of 'my art' and having one of those stretches of time when I feel like everything I write or create or try and do is just pointless and dumb and too small and misdirected and this voice keeps yealling at me: "who am I to think of my self as any kind of artist when I'm struggling to really produce anything of real value" (how does one evaluate, really). It's strange as I thought I had kind of conquered this feeling since it hasn't reared it's ugly head in a very long time. I mistakenly thought I had killed it. So that is part of my disappointment. I think it was triggered by some comments I heard recently from a couple of completely unrelated sources talking about what constitutes a "real artist" and terms were being thrown around such as: emerging artist, producing artist, product, working artist.... There were others that I can't quite recall at the moment. I just remember feeling about 1 inch tall afterward, as I don't really consider myself "producing" much of anything - for the "market", anyway. Funny thing is, before letting these things get to me....I was loving just allowing myself to play around with things and experiment.

In writing this I know that I tend to get ahead of myself and also be hard on myself when I should be much much gentler. This quote reminds me that the little things do matter, that it doesn't matter if I am the only one who is aware of my awkward secret fumbling toward the dreams. What matters is that I do what I feel I should do, regardless of what anyone else thinks, or knows or says or whatever. Sometimes I just get so frustrated when shit like this gets to me.

I am thinking that this is a discipline to cultivate: "strong self-confidence combined with deep humility".

So this is my Ash Wednesday confession.
And now I am off to Kitchener.


sequesthered said...

that quote is awesome. i've been going through the same kind of thing, but in my younger way. is that from a book?

Lisa said...

lovely lovely lovely...

perfect jump start to my lent -!

~ C ~ said...

Excellent post, Julia!

Why'd it take me so long to find your blog???

hulia said...

Hey Ladies!
The Henri Nouwen quotes (that I often post on the blog) are actually from a book of Daily readings written by him called 'Bread for the Journey'. I've been getting each daily reading sent to me via email for years by the ever so generous Henri Nouwen Society - without even buying the book! You can too! go to These reading have been a life line for me. If you are not familiar with Henri Nouwen, do yourself a favour and begin to read his books. There are plenty, and they will change you.