Have you wondered about the relationship between an artist and the audience? And, I'm not referring to the successful celebrities and their fan following frenzy. I'm talking about those unassuming people we see in our everyday walk of life. The ones who seem ordinary at the outset but carry a special skill within that outshines when pitted against the rest.
Don't we all know of, in our immediate circles, a master chef, a pitch-perfect singer, a skillful painter, an imaginative craftsperson, a graceful dancer or even someone who's a bit of all of these? These are artists in their own right, some perhaps bidding their time to make it big and some just content being a devotee of art. At different points of time, we could well be that artist or one among the audience.
As an audience, how many of us walk up to the unsung hero and applaud his/her efforts? How many of us generously spend from our tightly-held purse of appreciation without a grudge or an expectation of a return compliment?
It's easier to be a mere spectator of the artist's mastery over respective genres, pausing only briefly to register his/her excellence. And then, move on. Without a word. To either wallow in self-pity or to sharpen our own set of strengths to feel worthy enough.
I often wonder why we don't praise easily; or generously and genuinely enough?
I assume it's because we are entwined in low self-worth and insecurities. It's very likely that we are ourselves a struggling chef, singer, painter or dancer and lack the confidence to showcase whatever talent we have. We begrudge the other person who has risked criticism and is brave enough to expose the raw self. The feelings of 'if only', 'what ifs' and 'why me' throng the egoistic mind, building up an invisible, impregnable shield between the self and the artist or even rest of the world.
Perhaps, this is also a reason why we're able to freely congratulate and applaud someone whose skills are disparate from ours. Here, there's no basis for comparison and therefore no green monster raising its ugly head. Again, it's easier to be in awe of a celebrity figure because somewhere in your mind you have accepted the fact that the artist and you are on different planes and there is no scope for the juxtaposition.
However, when the tables are turned and we do not see our talent being recognized and appreciated, do we smile knowingly? Ah, the complexities of a human mind! As slaves of an art form, we are constantly seeking a discerning audience, some constructive feedback, a bit of admiration or adulation.
Appreciation from external quarters is a validation of all the hard work the artist has put in to create a beautiful artwork for the world to see, touch or experience. The words that speak highly of a job well done serves as a throttle for him/her to do better each time.
A creative person's world is often lonely. Even among a company of those similarly endowed, he/she embarks on a long-winding path that is traversed alone. Thick boughs of a criticizing audience dotting the sidelines form an intimidating canopy. The path itself is strewn with thorns of self-doubt and fear. At such times, when a kind face waves out encouragingly and cheers him/her, all the obstacles seem to fade out into the oblivion and the journey becomes enjoyable.
The perspective changes dramatically by simply reversing the side you're on! Yes, it's tough to make that switch but not completely impossible. So, the next time our ego stops us from patting someone's back, we must try to put the self for a while in the artist's shoes. It might then be easier to smile easily and say those simple but difficult words, "You did a great job!"
What are your thoughts? Would love to know what you think.