It’s a good thing I wasn’t put off by the title of Anna Deavere Smith’s book Letters To A Young Artist.
First off, I’m not young.
Second, how do I know if I’m artist? I don’t paint. I’m terrible at drawing. Does web writing count?
It was the name of the first chapter, Presence, that drew me into the book. I thought, awesome – the book begins with a word on mindfulness…how cool is that– this actress (who I LOVE from Nurse Jackie) is touching on one of my favorite topics.
It wasn’t until I actually began to read chapter 1 that I saw she wrote on Presence, as in stage presence– that magnetic quality performers need to captivate their audience.
Hmmm. I’m not really seeking stage presence. I’m never on stage.
I kept reading to discover her definition of Presence relies on a deep presence of being. It comes from the inside.
She wrote, “Presence means paying attention to find any opportunity to engage.”
Now, this is something I seek!
The book was written for young artists, however I believe many can benefit form Ms. Smith’s wisdom.
I certainly did.
Her words on self esteem — “Self esteem cannot really be built from the outside. Real self esteem is an integration of an inner value with things in the world around you.”
There’s so much in there that speaks to anyone looking to connect to a deeper, more authentic expression of herself.
So I guess that makes us all artists… as we create the greatest work of all.