My children have accused of me of “diva moments.” It is not at all an unfair accusation, though I take seriously my role to minimize it.
Note, I say minimize, not eliminate. Well, I note it anyway. Because until I now I’ve always felt a twinge of guilt associated with these moments when my concentration is so narrowed and my lens so telescopic that anything outside the frame is as unwelcome as Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Vacation movies.
I was trying to explain this to my kids’ significant others the other day and the more I tried, the more I infused it with humor to mask my baseline discomfort at the idea that I was giving myself permission — at times — to be an asshole. This is fundamentally at odds with who I attempt to be as a person who values and celebrates others. The incongruence of these two opposing values stung at me for a long time after like the road rash The Bride picked up on Mother’s Day showing off on a skateboard she had no idea how to ride.
I still picked at the scab the next day. My future daughter-in-law’s question buzzed at my ears like Tinnitus. “Well, if you know you are that way, why do it?”
Sigh. It’s hard to explain I wanted to say.
Finally, I landed on something this morning that put my mind at ease just a bit. The world is noisy. It’s fleeting and skittish as if the whole of humanity share the same ADD disorder. Twitter is a billion-dollar example of capitalizing on this collective impatience and — dare I say it? — self-centeredness.
To have any degree of accomplishment (that’s not the word I want… I think “mastery” is better, but I’m still not sure) in an art, be it words, song, dramatic interpretation, painting, even chisel to stone, it takes both a focus that is at odds with the world and an “otherness” that wants to create something of value for all.
I lack mastery in all but a very few, a select few, fields of artistic expression. But in those that really matter, and even to some extent the pursuit of learning those that far elude mastery, I can’t do what I do with the clatter of this world fighting for my attention. The closer I get to the putting three or five or seven words in the exact order to say the exact thing I want, the less patient I become, the more heightened my irritation is, as if I unconsciously call the battalions to high alert to the ramparts of my mind in defense of this moment in time and space when something outside of me, better than me, and yet a small slice of the fulfillment of me, happens. Why do it? she asks? Because I’m not sure It’s not necessary.
I realized later had I been less concerned with my own ego and entertaining them, I would have thought about the question my son’s lovely lady asked. I would have said to her — a wonderful dancer from childhood, I am told — “Because it’s a bit necessary I think. Didn’t you find it so in the studio?”
I’m guessing she would agree with me, because she too has a little diva in her, or at least I suspect she did to be as good at her art as she used to be. Don’t we all have a little of this in us, right there nudging next to our finest moments, perhaps jading them with a bit of ourselves that we know are not as colorful as the art we try to produce?
I am constantly reminded how flawed I am. I am constantly aware of how hard I work to smooth rough edges that take hours of spiritual discipline to sand away yet can become married in a moment of elevated voice and sour-filled expression of selfish pity.
I suspect it’s necessary, these diva moments, this side of heaven to keep us humble and to keep us learning until that day when we finally get it right, on Earth as it is in heaven.
At least I hope it is, which heightens my awareness of my responsibility to do what I do while minimizing my diva moments even if I don’t really want to eliminate them.