Monday, 29 December 2014

the art of asking or just take the doughnuts

Ranked as one of its top literary picks for the past year, Brain Pickings’ maven Maria Popova interviewed author Amanda Palmer on her new work with the subtitle or: how I learned to stop worrying and let people help, which seems to be a very necessary and circumspect exploration of compassion and self-esteem.
The lessons speak in the language of creativity and talent but the message is not meant exclusively for the artistic set, as we are all trying to carefully navigate the chasm between individual and social entitlement narratives, wanting too much, and the inability to welcome that which we truly need—all the sharing and caring and small kindnesses that make us human to each other. Palmer provides a series of imaginative images that don’t allow one to forget their callings—decrying the common measures of success, saying no one is to the manor born, and long before any one of us is illegitimised, recognized, we need to christen ourselves with a spell and magic wand of our own making and feel ridiculous doing so. Problematically, most of us don’t think our passions are worth that kind of bother—especially when others might be charitably disposed to help—and yet, most of us will still have the gall to ask when is our ship coming in. We may have adopted some sort of purist standard to apply to our entertainers and celebrities—maybe so we can see them fail, and are certainly quick to call fraud, poser and imposter even when trifling assistance is ultimately a means to a greater end. Henry David Thoreau, as the author illustrates, gave up a lot of comforts to pursue a quiet and contemplative life on Walden Pond and eventually came to realise his goal.
Thoreau did also graciously accept help when offered by kindred spirits—including fellow author Ralph Waldo Emerson and his mother and sister who brought the hermit doughnuts. Most of us would think less of what Thoreau created because of that detail. What do you think? Do such aspirations only belong in the rarified world of artists or is it a universal and daily struggle?