|In the Mirror Self Portrait ©1977 Dora Sislian Themelis|
Oil on canvas
Quite a few posts back, when I was reading The Artist's Way, I wrote about someone who I identified as the Crazymaker, which was a term in that book for a friend who takes up your time and saps your energy for their own gain. In Week 8 of Walking in This World the author talks about discovering a sense of discernment. In plainer terms, trying to stay focused on making art not making it, and the difference between opportunity and opportunists.
In this book, the Crazymaker term is applied a little differently as to the opportunists and is called the Piggybacker. And Wow, is that a true visual! I knew I had a Crazymaker on my hands, but to think they were also a Piggybacker makes the whole thing more real. True to the term, this person was an opportunist, riding my wave at every turn. What I did, they did too.
If I said it, they said it. If I tried it, they tried harder. If I went to a place they had to be there. And everything was their idea. Even now, that I've stepped back and away, they're still trying to hang on to my coattails. Someone once said to me "You're the real deal, they're just hanging on that some of it may rub off on them."
The Piggybacker, as described in this chapter, is an opportunist who offers an opportunity by saying "I can help you" instead of "I need your help." The better we become as artists, stronger and more visible, these others are that more attracted. "They divert our creativity to light their own path." This is so true.
The problem is they go along undetected, undermining our direction until we finally figure it out. As in my case I had no clue! I thought this is a friend I'd known a long time, a fellow artsy type, with which I had similar interests. Not until lately did I get it that they were hanging on me for their own benefit. What a dope I was!
Flattering, persuasive and dangerous, they can choke us like weeds do flowers. They would say "This will only take a minute" and their minute could take forever to detox from, which costs us our creative focus. Done! As open souls as some of us artists are, well me anyway, if we agree with the crazy Piggybacker we could fall into something we didn't bargain for!
Real opportunity feels good, feels special and right. Opportunists come with pressure and impulsiveness. How true! I know because I lived it.
You can't understand how free I feel that I've unshackled myself from that oppression. The only thing I feel now is stupid that I allowed that to contine. Since leaving that angst behind I've moved so far forward it shocks me. But how and why did I stay friends with the Piggybacker for so long?