I’m going to ask you to make a larger investment in this blog post than normal. What comes next will make much more sense if you watch this video. This is Ash Beckham, an LGBT advocate, delivering a TEDx talk in Boulder CO. It’s 11 minutes long but worth the time. It’s not really about what you probably think it’s about. Just like this post.
Watch the Video.
So what’s my closet? Well, to be honest, I probably have a lot of them. I think most of us do. There was one closet that came to mind as I listened to the video the first time. It’s my darkest closet. The one that scares me the most. And I think it’s going to surprise you.
My whole life has revolved around the idea that I’m creative. Actor, writer, photographer, story teller. Here’s the truth – I have virtually never allowed myself to really do any of it. I talk a good game. I talk one helluva good game. Since I left college I’ve been on stage once. Virtually no one has seen any of my writing. Or photography. I have to be forced to play guitar or sing in public.
I’ve gotten away with just teasing creativity for years. People are going to want to argue that I’ve done plenty creative things. What I’m saying is that what I’ve done is the equivalent of sliding things out from under the closet door. You can only get little things out that way. And you can stay safely in the closet.
In the dark.
Where you won’t have to face the “hard talk”.
You see I am avoiding having the hard talk with myself. If I come out of the closet, really take a shot at being creative, putting myself on the line, there’s a chance that I will crash and burn. That’s what most people do.
(Is it? Or is that just an excuse to keep that door securely shut? So maybe I won’t be recognized as Hemingway. How many people are? Wait, I know that answer. Exactly one. Same number for Dickens and Grisham and King and Steele. Is this about being creative or being successful?)
I stay in the closet because I won’t ever fail in there. Except for the fact that staying in there IS failure. No one can challenge my carefully crafted self image as a creative person if they’ve never seen my work. I’m Harper Lee if she had stopped writing before “To Kill A Mockingbird”. To that end I carefully never complete any of my creative works. I’ve talked about a photo show. Never done it. I’ve worked on a novel for four years. Never finish it. A collection of short stories. Not quite ready yet. I never quite practice the guitar enough to get any better at it.
I need to have that hard talk with myself. Which means I need to come out of my closet. Kick open, pop open, slide open, ease open that door but I need to open it.
Take a shot.
Do my best.
Find out who I can be. It might be a mediocre story teller, novelist, photographer or actor.
Or I might be the second Hemingway.
Time to begin opening that door.