I’m sure you know who you are on a Tuesday in traffic, but do you know who you are when you read fiction?
Have you ever thought about this version of yourself? Have you pondered your power?
It’s a remarkable power seldom remarked on. It goes unrecognized, camouflaged so well some lives pass without ever calling it by its name—wise hearts and minds alike tricked by its modest skins.
Maybe we don’t see it because we’re always looking for the power that’s easy to see.
We point our spotlight at the stage—at the writer the actor the singer—when the equally astounding is happening inside the reader, the watcher, the listener.
We rightfully muse on the greatness of McCartney. But we miss the magic of the woman who as a girl saved three weeks’ allowance to buy her first Beatles album. Who played that record every day after school. Who shaped and reshaped the songs as she used them to shape an inner world that will rise to meet her every time she hears “Yesterday” for all her days.
We don’t know her inner world; we can’t see it. But that doesn’t fully explain why we devalue this kind of creation because we do it even when the inner world of “Yesterday” is our inner world.
Maybe we think it’s too passive, too inward, too candied, too absent of struggle to be worthy. Maybe our competitive natures make us think a power given to all is a power given to none. Maybe the social currency showered on manifest creators has skewed our judgment. Maybe we’re too taken with creation as we know it to get to know it.
And in all fairness, how knowable is it?
Creativity is a power with twisting vines and shifting roots. When we try to grasp its edges to learn its form, it grows past our fingertips. It does much of its work out of sight, and not just in terms of the inner-world-audience-participation thing we’ve been talking about. Even when someone creates a thing we can see, there’s a hidden, deeper, and arguably more remarkable mark left on the maker.
What if our appreciation could be stretched to touch these unseen parts?
Perhaps we don’t need to know another’s inner world to recognize its majesty. We just need to make space for it to be a precious thing in our minds. We can know the mountain’s beauty by its shadow alone. And if we appreciate this seat of power in others, it’s only a matter of time before we appreciate it in ourselves.
Once we start looking, we’ll see mountain shadows everywhere. In the man smiling as he reads his book in the coffee shop, in the girl bouncing her head to the music whispering from her headphones.
We’ll call creation by its name and train the limelight on every one of us.
On all the makers of secret worlds.
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