Little Flames

“Consider renouncing specialness – including being important and admired. Renunciation is the antithesis of clinging, and thus a radical path to happiness.”

– Rick Hanson, “Buddha’s Brain”

A challenge to being a musician, or any type of creative, is the domineering sense of self that can get in the way of art. Self-importance can come with the territory of creating something you perceive as beautiful. It’s an irritating habit, but it also helps bring awareness to your art. There’s a sense that you don’t want to be a big asshole claiming to be the greatest thing ever, but a significant amount of self-promotion is necessary if you “make it” or whatever they say.

If you make art and don’t care if anyone sees/hears/experiences it, then where’s the drive to post on YouTube, or share on social, or get your paintings up in a local coffee shop?

Alternately, if you really care if people see/hear/experience your art, then how do you know there’s real substance behind your art, that you’re not just pandering and people-pleasing, that you haven’t “sold out”?

I’ve experienced the self as an obstacle. The self, just an imaginary construct, disconnects me from others and from reality itself. The more “me” there is, the more isolated I feel. The less I think about myself – if I’m absorbed in an engaging task, communing with loved ones, reading a good book, or serving another – the happier I feel.

Of course, there’s huge value in introspection. Introspection can seem a self-involved pursuit, but it’s really about taking the self and plugging it into a universal experience. This thing I’m going through, it has been lived by humans for thousands of years.

In the spirit of reducing the size and scope of self, or ego, I want to be mindful of what I’m posting on social media, which I tend to avoid but which I’m supposed to use (as they say). And I want to be mindful of what I share on the internet in general. What’s the purpose? Am I trying to say, “Hey look at me, I’m so great and this is why?” Or, “Bestow love upon me because of this insight?” Or, “Please validate my lived experience so that I can finally believe I’m living a good life?”

Or is the purpose of a post rather to share something that lit me up, that I was thinking about, that made my life better in some way and therefore might offer you a little flame as well?

That’s what I want to do, I want to offer little flames. I want to share the things in my soul because it isn’t my soul so much as the soul of the world, the root of truth, the lived and shared experience, the thing that connects me to you. To feel a little less alone, a little more a part of something.