Monday, June 7, 2010

A Discussion Was Had

....recently, in the place where I go every day to make a living, about mojo. Life force. Personal oomph. Third chakra energy--however you describe it. About how our mojo can wander off from it's seat of power, dissipate, and simply fade until it's nothing but ether. About how we can “get it back”--as individuals, and as an organization.

As usual, I don't have any answers, but I have a number of questions.

What does passion look like?

Sometimes, passion for a cause is not accompanied by a full orchestra, soaring speeches, and dramatic close-ups in the bloody light of sunset. Sometimes passion looks very boring. It looks like showing up every day and acting with diligence, thoughtfulness, and careful attention to detail. It looks like gritting your teeth, gulping the coffee, pushing through burn-out, and performing all of the unglamorous, fist-gnawingly dull, mundane acts that are the foundation of creating and sustaining anything worthwhile. It's quiet. It's patient. It doesn't demand the limelight and a megaphone. As a result, it almost always goes unrecognized and unappreciated.

What is our responsibility to our own unhappiness?

Growing up in my home, one constantly recurring phrase was, “You should be grateful you get anything at all.” I spent many years crippled by the trap of gratitude. It's very hard for me to say, “This is not enough”. It's very hard for me to say, “I need more.” And it's almost impossible for me to say, “I demand more.” I fear being struck down dead on the spot by God for my hubris. So, I opt to take a vain and terrible pride in my ability to do without, to maximize scant resources. It's a very unbecoming trait.

We can respond to unhappiness by simply acknowledging it and waiting for circumstances, internal or external, to shift. Or, we can demand change; we can put our personal happiness front and center and refuse to settle for anything other than continuous bliss and passion. Or, we can engage in the time-worn defense mechanism of ignoring the importance of our unhappiness--and see how long we can fool ourselves.

We can also overestimate the value of constant happiness. Too much happiness, for too long, is not conductive to creativity. I think there is a sort of Ph balance of angst that should be present in us, in the right amount, at all times. When we're too happy, we're not restless enough. We're not greedy enough; there's no edge, there's no hunger, there's no movement. Dissatisfaction creates tension, and tension creates force; forward momentum. And far more interesting art. The chronically happy simply don't create the most powerful work.

What is the value of endurance?

I fear sometimes that endurance--good old fashioned “wait and see”--has become a lost art in this society. It's okay to be stuck. Sometimes there's nothing we can do but ride out the stuck-ness. Sometimes, the more we squirm and wiggle, the tighter the binds get. In our over-therapized culture, we seem to have developed a collective terror of being stuck. But sometimes being stuck is a gift. It forces us to be still, to pipe down, to listen deeper. It forces us to let go.

What does our mojo want?

Mojo is a living, breathing entity with a mind of its own. Mojo be hungry! Mojo want food! We need to ask our mojo what's going to bring it back to us, give it energy, and make it stay. Mojo can't give us power if we shove it into a cage, ignore it, and expect it to survive on bread crusts and tap water. Ask your mojo what it wants. I suspect mine will tell me that it wants a little fear, some danger, a bit of risk.

Recently, I taught a poetry workshop and asked the question, “What does your inner outlaw look like?” I think mojo is an outlaw in its own way, too. Draw yours. And let it speak.

What does it tell you?


Dale said...

Huh. That's an interesting question.

Viviana said...

An excellent and thoughtful post, Ms Typist!

The Good Typist said...

Why, thank you, Viviana!