Just like that. I committed social suicide on NPR yesterday afternoon.
Our local NPR station is WNIJ, and most Sunday nights, Carl Nelson has a show called Live from Studio A. Yesterday afternoon, I recorded a few tunes with him and talked music, my restaurant, and...<cringe>...politics. Even though I've written several political tunes, when I'm out in the world, I'm largely silent on my views.
One of the songs I played will likely offend absolutely everybody. Truly...everybody. The show won't be broadcast until the summer, so I guess I've got a few months left to enjoy my relatively positive reputation. But when the show airs, I assume that will change. We'll see. I have a show on Thursday night, and I'm going to play the song there too to test just how damaging it is.
But the upshot? For the first time ever, I felt like a real artist.
As a creator trying to make a living from my creations, I feel a constant pressure to make things people will like. Consequently, my creations are generally "nice." Which is all well and good. I like nice. Nice is nice. But when I'm not feeling so nice, it feels stifling. I feel like a sham when I pander to an audience's desire to feel a certain way.
I've always admired real-deal artists, the ones who take big chances. They risk making people feel uncomfortable. They value their self-expression more than being admired. And in doing that, they are eventually admired for their authenticity.
Yesterday, I became authentic. Maybe not popular, but at least I was honest.
And today, I feel lighter, happier, and more at peace. How 'bout that.
My takeaway from the experience is that self-expression isn't always pretty, but it's vital to our peace of mind. We Americans are fortunate enough to live in a country that protects our right express ourselves, and we should take advantage of it. Being able to sleep soundly at night is worth more than being liked.
Last night--for the first time in months--I slept the sleep of the dead. It was incredible. Reader, I wish you that kind of deep peace this week. I'll see you next Sunday. -Em