By Larry Feinstein

Larry Feinstein

“No one outside ourselves can rule us inwardly. When we know this, we become free.” — The Buddha

As some of you may know by now, I pretty predictably put up a story every Sunday morning. I write it Friday night and finish it the next night. I confess to checking my Facebook pages, most of Sunday, nearly always while I’m on Flaming Lips. My survey always spill over into Monday.

After all my years of doing this, I confess to being impacted by how my stories and now, my weekly news podcast, are received, in terms of numbers and comments. Recently, I wrote a story about imagination, I think a little different for me. Concepts are tough to write about. It is so easy to make them feel distant, disconnected and impersonal, exactly the wrong direction for me.

All my stories are personal. Anything anyone does that involves sharing yourself with others has got to be. Maybe I should make that my writer mantra. This is the exact point at which the conflict can occur. You really need to decide whose opinion you want to hear; what really matters to you. All of us share these moments throughout our lives.

Last week, I felt bummed that my Imagination story wasn’t better received, getting me on this whole jag about what’s important to me. Somewhere in there, I knew my next story was writing itself.

I always want to feel I did the best job I could, with no need to apologize for my imperfections. I know it is about the strength of my internal world, first and foremost. How I feel about a story or my podcasts really matters to me, because I am going to be sharing them with you. I continually have to remind myself to let go and live out there somewhere.

Why, I don’t know, but I got my mind lost in the whole idea of the approval of others and how it can often take on a distorted significance. It roots early in our lives, at least it sure did in mine.

When I was a little kid, I made my father laugh, which was one way of getting attention and love. It is so easy to see how this can so easily mutate into approval and back again. Growing up most of my life with just my mother to carry the load for my brother and myself, made me a little more sensitive to her feelings. I am glad for that, always have been.

I remember feeling fairly upset back in my NYC days in the broadcast advertising business. This was the late 1960s into the 1970s. I was already in my 20s, but still felt like an undercover, almost hippie. We all had to wear suits and ties and carry attaché cases. Your hair could never encroach upon your collar, God forbid.

I remember the time I visited one of the floors at my first advertising agency, where all the “creatives” worked. It was like a playpen for grownups. One guy had a barber chair in his office. There wasn’t a tie to be found anywhere. They did whatever they wanted. What was their secret? I really don’t know, other than assuming the suits were intimidated by creatives, most of whom were likely stoned all the time, too

I was imprisoned in a rule-oriented world, which can be very infectious, a potential soul killer. Giving up fractions over a long period of time can grow into a boulder, sitting on your chest, making it hard to find your breath. It took nearly 20 years of feeling terribly compromised on so many levels, before I let go, deeply inhaling my own life map to explore.

Along the way, the idea of feeling authentic began to matter more and more, too. Striding right alongside that idea has got to be forgiving yourself your imperfections, not be confused with justifying your actions. Long ago, I gave up the idea of seeking approval at the expense of honesty.

It’s funny, I do check on my numbers and I have flashes of insecurity if I think they are low. I am guilty as charged of having a small mind. It is interesting what happens next. This rotten seed of an idea births a bunch of crystalline thoughts about self-worth, a reaffirmation, coupled with a whispered commitment to be as truthful as I possibly can, turning the page until next time.

I am glad when something like this happens. It is a creative slap in the face, painful and stifling at first and then magically liberating in the end. It’s how this stuff works. The pictures we paint with our lives are what matters, a gallery of the mind. We keep relearning each time we finish one, perfect in its completion.

We never stop painting, each one an immaculate, internal masterpiece and that’s the lesson.

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