Give The Gift

893. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Amy and I meet for coffee every few months. We usually meet early in the morning, bleary eyed and mostly exhausted by the path we’ve chosen to walk in this life. That’s why we schedule the date: we are exhausted and seeking inspiration. By the time we part a few hours later we are on fire with possibility. It happens every time. We spark each other. We ignite the imagination and remind each other of the riches of art and creativity in a community that understands the creative through the lens of commodity. We leave behind our need to assign value to our work and simple revel in our reason why.

Early on in life, artists learn to either diminish or inflate their gift. In looking for their place in this tribe that knows value only in monetary terms – and art cannot really be understood in such an abstract value system – they default to judge their own work. In the absence of any meaningful valuation they create a shadow standard. They cannot find a place so they invent one and the invention usually comes in the form of a value box: good enough, not good enough, appreciated, underappreciated, understood, misunderstood. It becomes an inner debate, a reason to hide, a certainty of inauthenticity, a story of hidden genius, a disdain for an ignorant community. It is a story of separation or suffering, a story as disembodied as the commodity system that inspired it.

I shared with Amy that a major part of my learning this year has been to get out of the valuation game. I’ve surrendered my shadow standard and am no longer interested in placing my work in a value box. I’m out of the business of inflation or deflation. I have a gift and need not concern myself with its reception. Mine is to give it. Mine is to give it as boldly and joyfully as possible. The value debate sucks air from my offer.

I’ve learned that arts live at the center so I need not seek any other place. They are connective tissue and any form of separation (belief that I am special or less than useful) is anesthetic; it is the antithesis of art. Art joins. Art enlivens. It awakens. It unifies. It does not fit in boxes. It is ordinary, ubiquitous, a path available to every human being. Gifts are meant to be given without condition. Gifts are meant to be opened and celebrated..

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