Friday, February 11, 2011

Generosity of Spirit : Self Knowledge

Artists are of necessity so self-involved that they can be dispiriting to be around unless they also, habitually or more self-consciously, show interest in, and gratitude for, others (sometimes a self-conscious expression of gratitude strikes me as more touching for the effort behind it.)  So, I do what I can to show I've noticed someone's work, and celebrate their high points, and commiserate on their lows.  Most often I do this simply with a Facebook message, which trite as it sounds, still counts.  I also buy the occasional cup of coffee or glass of wine.  In sum I hope to acknowledge and celebrate others' presence.

Acknowledging one another is to me the wit and soul of generosity--not material generosity, but generosity of spirit.  Sometimes such generosity seems to be missing in artists or is occluded by habitual snarkiness and cynicism, qualities that never seem to go out of style, especially in the young.  When I do see generosity of spirit expressed by others my own spirit soars and I feel bonds of loyalty difficult to break.  When I see it rarely or never arise I can sour and I must watch that I don't make it too difficult for myself to be won back.

I look for generosity as a species of self-awareness in others, a quality without which trust mightn't be possible at all.  When it's present, however, anything seems possible.

If "generosity" were a coin, on one side would be an emblem of acknowledgement, and on the other, an emblem of self-disclosure; of seeing, and, of showing.