Recently, Daniel Davis, a friend of mine, suggested that we create some videos on topics important to me. This led to creation of six short videos that are now on youtube., and I want to share what I learned from this experience and the joy that followed.
My life stance has always been that I’m not good enough as I am and that I need to continually improve, putting forward “my best foot”. This, in part, is what my mother taught me, and in many respects it has served me well. There are times when it is important to avoid saying the first thing that pops into my mind. However, it takes a great deal of energy to screen and censor myself, so what seems like prudent restraint comes at a high cost. In addition to the energy involved in this screening process, there is the loss of self-expression, of sharing with the world who I truly am.
It seems to me that there is a deep urge today to “say it like it is”. We are tired of muffled responses and conversations that hide what is real. On the political left and right there are calls to speak plainly and truthfully. I believe the people are feeling deeply the urge for self-expression. Perhaps if we can hear it from our leaders, we will be emboldened to do likewise.
Returning to my recent experience with videos, I thought my friend Dan was going to interview me, but instead he suggested I do monologues on several topics. A monologue is very different from responding to questions, so as we started one could say I was unprepared. When I was younger, I would have stopped the process, saying I was not ready. I needed to collect my thoughts and perhaps develop an outline. And I would need to practice several times to make the best presentation. In my career, I had professional training on how to be interviewed on television and communicate my message effectively. However, in this instance, instead of falling back to this previous approach which had been successful in a conventional sense, I decided to do the videos as a matter of self-expression. I saw that the preparation I had been trained to do would not allow the real “me” to show up fully.
In creating six videos, I felt free and experienced joy. It was an effortless process. It took less than two hours, even though we had some technical problems with the equipment. Otherwise, we would have finished in an hour. I simply spoke freely expressing my ideas about practicing centering prayer, professional career development in work, growing up at mid-life, self-responsibility, what to do about problem employees, and what to do about problem bosses.
While I am not saying that it is always appropriate to be fully expressed, I do feel it is important to be in a dance with restraint and self-expression. There are times when each approach is appropriate. It is important to recognize that there is a choice to make in each case. If you grew up feeling you weren’t good enough and always needed to be improving, consider the possibility of self-expression more often, so you can experience the freedom and joy it can bring.