Everybody acknowledges that there are people that are considered powerful. We can probably name them. They probably think of themselves as powerful, too. As an artist, how do you escape the idea that you are powerless and that powerful people are preventing you from succeeding in your art? Every rejection letter, every failure to be selected or have your work hung in the exhibition, every fruitless audition or wave of indifference to your latest creative work can reinforce the idea that you are powerless and that other people have power over you. This can be true in life, as well as in art. You can begin to feel like a helpless passenger on the way to your own destiny.
But what is power? Can it be touched, tasted, or felt? Can you spend it? Is it tangible, like a substance, or is it just an idea? If it’s an idea, what stops you from changing the idea? Power is not as substantial or permanent as people imagine it to be.
For the purpose of discussion, I’m going to suggest that power is the complicity and compliance of the intimidated and enthralled. In other words, powerful people have power over you, because you give it to them. They might intimidate you or you might be so enthralled with their abilities, reputation or popularity that you hand all of your control to them, but it’s more about what you give up than it is about what they assert.
Sure, they might use the fact that you’re intimidated or star struck to lay it on even thicker, so that you are even more subservient and docile, but the truth is that by not walking away or confronting the fraud, you largely volunteer for your own intimidation and you certainly permit becoming overwhelmed. You are, to a large degree, complying and complicit in your own feelings of powerlessness. It’s all in your own mind.
I don’t want to blame the victim, but the concept of power is utterly dependent on the people being oppressed propping it up. Sure, you can’t easily take your power back on your own, and the powerful love to use other powerless, intimidated and enthralled people to bully you on their behalf (trying to avoid their own feelings of intimidation), but you can move in the direction of reclaiming your own power. It only takes a few people to stand up to the intimidation, or to break the enthralling spell and see the powerful for what they really are: ordinary. That’s all it takes for changes in the power structure to begin to take shape.
Reclaiming your power is about courage and clear sightedness. You need to stand your ground, rooted in your own authenticity and integrity and you need to break through the illusions and spin to see things for what they really are. Once you do both, you can begin to be the master of your own fate. You can create the art you want, the way you want to create it. You’ve nothing more to fear and no shadow to be hidden under. You’ve reached the light.