Still reading Anna Deveare Smith’s Letters to a Young Artist. I intersperse it between other reading, allowing my subconscious mind to digest and process the information in its own time.
Today, I read an amazing quote from her March 2003 letter entitled “Urgency:”
Don’t even bother coming out onstage–or doing anything in the realm of artistic communication–if you don’t have a sense of urgency. Nothing is cool here.
Smith in the next chapter discusses “The Death of Cool:”
So the death of cool…would do what? It would probably bring more tones, more color, more emotion, more love, more raw spirit, more argument, more energy. More authenticity? More compassion? More laughter? More tears? More open hearts?
Try it. Be uncool. As uncool as you can possibly be….Be hot.
These words were a revelation to me. In my youth, I was as far from cool as I could be. I didn’t eat the right foods, follow the right musicians, wear the right clothes, or lust after the right celebrities (or gender, for that matter). I laughed too loudly, argued too fervently, and imagined too wildly for most of my peers.
I was a geek, a nerd, an oddball, a wierdo, and a spaz.
Somewhere along the line, I learned to conform. I learned to fit in…to a certain degree. Enough to keep a job. Enough to avoid controversy. Enough to get by.
But that conformity came at a price. With conformity, I wrapped up my energies and passions and enthusiams, making them user-friendly and as inoffensive as possible. I buffered the world against my “uncoolness,” which probably made a lot of people much more comfortable around me.
But I died a little, too. That part of me who went wild with enthusiasm over Broadway musicals, worried passionately about the plight of the sea mammals, she kind of took a back seat to the me who could create excellent spreadsheets and write great business correspondence.
But I only died a little, and it seems a ghost of that person still mucks about inside me.
Because when it comes to science, I’m uncool.
When it comes to politics, I’m uncool.
When it comes to music and art and literature, I’m uncool.
When it comes to Doctor Who, I’m totally uncool.
And at the ripe old age of 47, I think I’m coming full circle with my geekiness.
At the risk of being absurd, I believe embracing my lack of cool might be the coolest thing I’ve ever done…
Peace to you–