Facebook — A Modern Day Memoir

MemoirsI was emotionally stirred this morning, as I read seven accounts of writers experiencing the effects of having written their memoirs. The authors bared their soul to the world and received a form of validation in the process. The artful pleasures that illuminated their past were tastefully raw and revealed the human condition in a universal manner that all readers easily understood.

The one comment or point of revelation shared by all seven was that of making choices. In reducing ones life to the page, a selection of entries were decided upon. The chosen stories were filtered for entertainment value and truth. A morsel of revelation was also present. A modern day “ahha” moment, if you will.

I contemplated if I were capable of sharing the intimate parts of my private life publicly. Would I be condemned or praised for sharing my reaction from a conversation with Mrs. Van Husen, a gold medal Olympian from Germany who became a publicist for Adolph Hitler? Or, in our politically correct society would I have the courage to share the internal thoughts I debated in my childhood, while holding a woman’s swimsuit in my hands after talking with a gay neighbor?

Having grown up in the world of theatre and motion pictures, I’ve had more experiences within our liberal world than most would see in a lifetime. The stories would certainly shock the weak minded and amaze the intelligent with insights into the human condition. But, few would expect to learn, that with all the freedoms and generous offers afforded me, I chose to live a conservative life.

It’s all about choice. Not tendencies or leanings, but decisions.

We are free to Facebook what we want others to know about us. Some write too much, giving us no room to contemplate the depths of their soul. Others write little for fear they won’t be accepted. Then there are those who write only the positive, trying to make us think they are perfect, removing themselves from any form of humanity.

Facebook is like memoirs. Every entry is a choice to reveal something about ourselves. We can chose to entertain or bore our readers. We also chose how vulnerable we’re willing to be — Demonstrating our true self or creating a false image to hide behind.

The seven authors were courageous and opened my eyes to the power of revelation through vulnerable sharing. It made me wonder how many followers a person might have on Facebook if they honestly shared their thoughts and feelings. Would their numbers rise incrementally or drop rapidly into the basement? Would the person be praised for their comments this year and be haunted by it twenty years from now?

I have learned that the more tolerance community requires, the more judgmental those around us become. When the Ten Commandments guided our nation, camaraderie was present because we all had fallen short. Listening to each other’s experiences and stories gave us insights into life that helped us fight the good fight. But, today we hesitate to hear those who may disagree with our position or beliefs, for fear we may not be able to defend our perspective with persuasion and dignity.

The risk of revealing our true self is greater today than forty years ago. Yet society needs truth more than ever. Unfortunately there are few willing to risk their future in order to share elements from their dysfunctional life for the sake of humanity. Instead we are entertained by extremists who seek only attention, rather than the common good that benefits us all.

Today, the greater the spectacle the more followers. But our hearts need the truth. We need some imperfect person to remind us of our humanity, while instilling hope into our lives. We need real people to live as an open book. Then we will have the courage to decide what revelation from our life is worth sharing in our modern memoir published on Facebook.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers

The Heart of an Artist

Artist DefinedThe Artist is a powerful creature who makes a difference in our lives. He creates for us beauty from ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness. He makes us laugh in spite of our dire circumstances and brings a tear to our eye when we need to be reminded of our humanity. The artist is a healer of our soul and one who inspires us to be our better selves.

I’m giving an inspirational talk tomorrow night to a group of business people on the topic of artistry. It’s my hope that those in the room who have mastered their craft or developed great business acumen will consider how they might bring heart into their workplace.

Revealing heart through one’s art is a risky venture, especially for those who have been abused in life. However, I can also tell you that being accepted for who you really are is far more valuable than being accepted for who you might pretend to be.

The opposite also rings true. To be rejected for who you pretend to be generates an unprecedented level of bitterness, while rejection based on who you actually are tears the heart, unless you’re confident in who you are – then it doesn’t matter.

The amount of power we find within ourselves when we fulfill who we were made to be is tremendous. It makes me wonder if those who fear the strong are the ones who program society with the hope of achieving some form of a safe haven, without any divergence. The fearful are rarely strong enough to be themselves and hide behind a cloak of societal pressures and political correctness.

It’s therefore the artist’s job to bring awareness to the masses in hopes that enlightenment might grip the heart, mind and soul of the downtrodden. To that end, all artists who choose motion pictures as their venue of choice must find new ways of expressing themselves to bring insight and hope to those around them.

Artistry isn’t black and white, but millions of colors. It takes on different forms and may even be misconstrued at times. I remember one person shared her feelings after reading one of my short stories. She was so spiritually touched that she suggested I become a pastor. A man told me after seeing one of my patriotic works that he’d vote for me if I ran for office. A teenager who felt empowered by one story suggested I become an advocate for women.

The great thing about art is that it opens minds to consider things of the heart. These people weren’t impressed by my stories and films, but by what already resided within their own heart. My art just helped them to see the one thing they held deep within themselves. It only took a spark to fan into flame their dormant passion.

The day will soon come when the people who watch or read my art will no longer suggest I become that thing stirring within their hearts, but instead will embrace their own passion to make the world a remarkable place. For its art that brings each of us to the place we need to be in order to make life-changing decisions that will touch our communities.

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers