I'm addicted to NBC's "Smash". Positively addicted. The show is about a brilliant team of talent, creating a Broadway musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. I love how the show depicts the struggle of the artist and how the inner angels and demons wrestle for center stage. In the episode "The Cost of Art", Ivy, who's vying for the part of Marilyn, tells the director Derek that she just wants to feel safe. And Derek replies, "Then go back to the chorus. There's nothing safe about being a star."
Scenes like that have a special way of kicking me in the gut, because I know that feeling. I so know that feeling. I want to take a risk, but I also want to know that everything's going to be okay. I don't want to lose the other things that I value—the safer, the consistent, more practical things—in the process.
When I asked what would you do if you weren't afraid, Giulietta commented, "I shudder to think where I would be if I had not slapped fear in the face and taken a chance on myself." And I wrote back, "It just occurred to me that we’re not talking about driving without a seat belt. We’re talking about listening to the part of us that wants to stay alive."
It reminded me of an exercise at a writers' retreat I attended a few years ago. We had to identify the demon—our biggest fear—that was keeping us from taking a chance on our hearts' desires.
The instructor told us that our demons serve a purpose and our fears are trying to protect us. They're trying to save us from hardship and pain. So they fight hard to maintain their tight grip, and in the process hold us back and keep us stuck. After she explained this, she asked us to write a letter to the demon.
This was one of the post therapeutic things I've ever done, because it helped me set aside my own defenses. Instead of being all, Back off, you rotten, evil demon!, I was able to say, Hey, listen. I understand you've been trying to do me a favor. In the past, I've needed to hide behind you and your warnings and your fear. Thank you for protecting me. I wasn't ready to step out then. But I'm ready now. So you can go away now. I'm a big girl. I can do this. It won't be easy. But my writer self is speaking to me now, and it's gently urging me to come along. To let you go. So thanks again, and goodbye.
Of course the demon comes back every now and then, because demons are persistent like that. But the angels are persistent too. I can tell when I'm listening to the angel because of how it feels internally. I get a freeing sensation, like a weight being lifted. I feel like I can fly. The demon is heavy. The angel is light. The angel is my star. It is within me.
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