What is real power?

(Good old Amanda, asking the small questions.)

We’re coming to you live from Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, on a hot-as-summer May afternoon, where we’re marinating in existential angst. Today’s special: deep, probing questions about the nature of power.

I’ve written about how my sense of power is tied up in my income. (“It eats away at your ego, when people keep offering you so much less than you’ve come to think you’re worth — you start to doubt your own value, no matter how much self-confidence you have.”)

Little girl with sparkler

This is how real power makes us feel

I’ve written about how despite what our consumerist, capitalist society would tell us, real power comes from compassion.

I’ve written about feeling a lack of power as a woman, a mother, and an artist (triple whammy) in a culture that values none of these things.

So I got very excited when Jordan sent me a link to Art, Money, God: Economic, Cultural and Spiritual Power in a New Era, an event happening this Sunday night in NYC. My first thought: “I’m not the only one who thinks about these things!”

The opening line of the event description just gets me:

“What is the role of art in a society that worships money?”

I’ve wondered that myself once or twice or a hundred times. (“As an artist, for everything I create, I am taxed the cost of no one paying me to do it; and then, when I try to market what I make — so, y’know, people can see it — I’m taxed for every hour I spend doing that.”)

Then, a little further down in the event description:

“We’ll hear from artists and community leaders who are changing the way we value the arts and actively engaging stakeholders, gamechangers, and communities to unite under the vision that art is a spiritual, political, and human act.”

YES.

To my great heartbreak, I’ll be out of town Sunday. If you’re in NYC, please go to this event and take copious notes and share them with me next week over a cup of coffee (it’s on me).

The listing for this event led me to the website of a glorious-sounding organization called Art Monastery. Just those two words together make my heart light up. And then, their mission statement talks about encouraging the process, products of art-making and the inner life of the artist.

“THE INNER LIFE OF THE ARTIST.”

These words arrest me. The fact that I have an inner life as an artist is what I cherish and condemn most about myself, simultaneously. My g-d inner life that cannot be shoved into corporate America or liking things other people like or doing things the way other people do them because all I want to f’ing do is write but I am not allowed.

Says who?

Says me. Because no matter how many times I write the cathartic blog post about how my power is not the same as my paycheck, I still hold myself back. I still don’t think I’m allowed to just write. To devote my life to it, rather than “fit it in.”

Sigh.

Power is having your own back.

Power is resisting the urge to apologize for who you are or what you want.

I no longer think I’m going to write a rah-rah blog post that propels me into truly making the leap to write full-time, but maybe this will be the one.

Maybe I will own up to the power of who I am.

Photo by Evan Long on Flickr

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