Monday, July 17, 2006

All About Me ...

Today, one of the 3-Day coaches wrote to me and asked me to host a Getting Ready Workshop. These were hatched a few years ago, she explained, as opportunities for experienced walkers to get together with first-timers and answer their questions. Anna, my coach, suggested that I host one. Nice of her. And I readily accepted. Whatever I can do to help the 3-Day.

Truth is, I dig public speaking. It makes me nervous, but nervous is good. Nervous means you're challenging yourself. Actually, I'm not nervous often enough. I play it too safe.

So last week, I was nervous before Brian and I got down to recording tunes. "I should have had a glass of Scotch," I said, in the booth. "You don't need that," Brian said. And he's right. I don't. And I don't want to start equating alcohol and courage. Whew. There's a slippery slope.

L.A. Dave is getting more interest in the book. In addition to Entertainment Weekly, he's also going to be on a gaming network's show (G4 is it, Dave?), and today he wrote to mention that Keith Olbermann called about booking him. Holy crap! This is getting big! Letterman is the brass ring. I'm thinking Letterman thoughts.

Which has gotten me to thinking about success: We all strive for it, but who among us are prepared for it when it arrives? Maybe you are. I don't think I am. I'm uncomfortable talking about myself. In groups, I'm the person who listens, takes it all in. Even one on one, I tend to be pretty quiet. What can I say? I have chatty friends. They're usually happy to talk.

A few years ago, during a very rare family meeting, my brothers hit me with this criticism: "It's always all about you, Beth." They were referring to my father's birthday that year. I had recently recorded a song for Dave's birthday, and mom had heard it for the first time that day. That night, at dinner, with everyone assembled, she encouraged me to play it for everyone else. I resisted. She persisted. I relented. They listened. I wanted to disappear. The attention felt weird.

And then my brothers piped up with the "all about you" comment. Their objection was that I played the song on my dad's birthday, that I should have let the day be about dad.

"Mom asked me to play it," I said, in my defense.

"You could have said 'no,' " they said.

What I told them that night was this: "Look, you each have lives. You have wives. You have children. You have careers. I just have me. I wish I had what you have, but I don't."

So what exactly am I supposed to talk about? When someone asks, "So, Beth, what's up?", it's pretty hard to avoid talking about myself. I guess I could talk about the weather.

A friend once gave me a quote written by Marianne Williamson. It's been attributed to Nelson Mandela, but it's Williamson's. It's this:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

For years, I've held myself back, both consciously and un, for fear of my brothers' very accusation (which came anyway): "It's always all about you." Well, yeah. Who else is supposed to be about?

Someday, when I sell the screenplay or have the opportunity to perform a song, am I supposed to keep that a secret? Am I not allowed to own my accomplishments? We're taught that it's not polite to brag, but is it bragging to speak about achievement?

What's wrong with being proud of ourselves? And if we can't share our triumphs with those closest to us, who's left?

I'm not a religious person, but on my wall of quotes is this: "To whom much is given, much is expected." Yup. I have been insanely blessed. There is much I can do. Some might say that I can simply do it, that there's no need to call attention to myself. But what if what I do is public? What if I went into politics? How do I act as a public servant without people knowing? Stupid question, right? But you see my point.

What I've come to understand is that I can't control other people's reactions to me. That those who truly love me will always love me. That anyone who turns away from me if I achieve any measure of success is simply loathe to face their own unwillingness to take risks.

One of the other quotes on the wall is from Julia Cameron, author of "The Artist's Way": "Expect the universe to support your dream. It will." But implicit with the expectation is effort. Dostoevsky said, "Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what people fear most." He was one smart, tortured Russian. And Springsteen said, "Whatever your abilities and talents are, your time is finite." And Willa Cather said, "The end is nothing. The road is all."

And just now, in my iTunes, Tom Cochrane started singing, "Life is a Highway."

I have spent too much time driving too slow. Or maybe I've been a passenger on my own journey.

But getting in the booth last week and spending time each day since then finding more material has gotten me revved up about my life. Funny how facing a fear will do that. One giant step for Bethkind.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the blog. It's all about you.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, all about you, it always has been and always will. That's why you're not married. Marriage is about being one with another person. You are selfish.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Oh dear, what a conundrum: While I'm alone, it's all about me, but that prevents me from marrying someone. If only I could be with someone so as not to be selfish anymore. But I can't be, because I'm selfish. What horrible, horrible news. Clearly, I must go do something selfish to make myself feel better.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nope, just tone down your current level of slefishness.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Oh, please, sir, tell me how.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could start by dropping the sarcasm. It's not always flattering.

11:03 PM  

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