"the privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are." -carl jung
i used to have a favorite t-shirt designed by my friend jen lee that read, "just be true." i really miss that shirt. i lost it at a yoga festival a few years ago.
but even though i no longer wear the words on my body, i carry them in my soul.
a few weeks ago, i worked through a values exercise with a class i was teaching to clarify our most important personal values. top of the list for me: authenticity.
i work really hard at showing up as my genuine self. i don't pretend to be anything i'm not. i enjoy being a beginner, living in the learning stages. i also enjoy developing expertise, but i understand there is no quick road to that. i'm not a fan of fake or imitation. i even cringe a bit when people say, "fake it 'til you make it." (for many valid, spiritual reasons, but that is another post.)
i am very sensitive, as i'm certain most people are, when my ideas, art, work or projects randomly show up, presented and claimed by someone who is not me.
i blogged about this very thing a few years ago: stealing buddha. (holy moly, nearly FIVE years ago!) i reread that blog before i started writing this one. because the message i keep getting is to just let it go.
but in the years since that post, casually using others' work has become even more commonplace in our culture. it is often just called inspiration. i see it as a spectrum of intentions and behavior that we must check in with on a regular basis. if we operate from a place of replicating someone else's work, we are not using the time to truly discover our own unique thing.
. . . . .
inspiration: when you are drawn to a piece, practice, project or person and there is an energetic flash of connection and you think, "i want to do something like that." amazing. i am endlessly inspired by so many artists and thinkers, i can't imagine what my life and work would be without them. i honor their influence and the work they have done by connecting with them, learning from them, and publicly recognizing the source.
practicing: this happens a lot in creative fields, when someone practices the work of another to learn the technique in their own practice, trying it on to see how it moves within and relates to their own style and body of work.
duplication: when you put out the same work or ideas as another, without doing the foundational work or having a depth of understanding and meaning about the process. the end result is often accompanied by a sense of secrecy, hollowness and desperation. there is an overwhelming feeling that it is not connected to who you are. your intended audience feels that, even if you don't.
race-to-finish-first: this is the person who sees others working hard and putting in time for a future release of something that looks like it's going to be fantastic. they quickly throw together what they perceive to be the elements of the work so that they can be the first to release a quick, fake copy.
impostor: this is a little more involved than copying. it is when someone takes on characteristics and practices of another and presents as a particular kind of person with specific knowledge, experience and skills, when they haven't developed those things. this is not to be confused with impostor syndrome. (although sometimes people say they struggle with having impostor syndrome, when they might want to consider that are actually engaging in impostor behavior.)
stealing: if you use or copy another's idea, art or work to make money or to gain popularity/publicity/attention, it is stealing. this is doubly true if the person you stole from earns a living from their work. your stealing cuts into their livelihood.
. . . . .
we are all influenced by the work of others. but it seems we are losing touch with discerning the range of influence. dabbling anywhere but the inspiration-practicing end of the spectrum prevents us from discovering our own true gifts.
it prevents us from discovering and being our own true selves.
let's be true.