patience, reward

the other morning margaret learned she won an oregon literary fellowship. the public announcement was to be that night at a reading featuring christopher hitchens. they comped us two tickets. in the sold out schnitzer auditorium margaret's name was announced - along with the other winners - and she stood in the warm glow of applause. we returned home to find in the mail a letter announcing the same news and a check for more money than we've seen in a long time for anything, certainly for creative endeavor.

we determined it's been at least a decade since she began writing in earnest. and what to show? a smattering of publications? a more substantial stack of refusals? the rewards are meager, few and far between. this fellowship felt like a long-forming reprieve, a tacit acknowledgment from the powers that be, a move up the ladder to the next level. sadly or happily, margaret realized this: we are so acclimated to rejection that our default state is to expect it, one presumes in fact, to invite it.

accepting and honoring what you deserve can run counter to one's internal mechanics. but margaret deserves it. for sure. at the same time there is a buddhist precept (i think, maybe it's from an old cowboy movie) that says: accept good news and bad news with the same emotion. this is what we are trying to do. Being grateful without being entitled. Altering the default setting to the one that engenders more scenarios like this, less piles of 'no thank you'. And yet at the same time committing to the work, not the response. The pursuit of applause is a hollow undertaking. It's delicious and satisfying but it's only garnish, not the meal.

also, it was a kick-ass start to 2010.


Elizabeth Munroz said...

Congratulations. I cannot feel cowboy neutral, but very happy for Margaret and you basking in her sunlight. BTW, your labels... art, margaret, rejection... perhaps, for balance, add acceptance?

lady said...

yes, i agree with elizabeth.
that is part of the lesson after all.

bp said...

excellent point elizabeth. i added a 'celebration' tag.