Fame and Infamy

Most of the spam I get on my WordPress site says things like: “your site traffic is a trickle because your blog is pathetic, send me $$$,  learn how to be a Real Blogger!” or “I love how your blog looks on my new (insert brand-name) (insert electronic device) get yours now!.” However, I recently received a comment in my spam list that said roughly: ‘I don’t know how I got here, I am not sure what you are talking about, and I don’t know who you are, but you are going to be famous soon if you aren’t already.” Even if this one was computer generated, it amused me and got me thinking about fame and, of course, the obligatory question of why am I blogging.

In my case, one of my (multitudinous) motivations for blogging is as a means of self-defense. There has been an interesting pattern in my life where every couple of years there is someone who becomes very excited about my work and decides that if only they were managing me, they could become rich and famous. This is my first red flag. I have done a fair amount of support work for different kinds of events, from working as a dispatcher with the inter-agency wildfire office to ecstatic trance workshops. Making sure everything is where it needs to be when it needs to be there and the logistics of food, transportation, housing, supplies,etc…, are all taken care of and paid for is a demanding job. In the civilian world, there is also promotion. The manager needs to get enough people to show up willing to pay enough to fund the whole thing.  That is all dependent on me showing up and doing my thing, but the manager/promoter is working full tilt behind the scenes. Managers might get rich, if they work hard enough, but their name won’t be the one drawing the crowd.

A notable lack of enthusiasm for my interests and well-being in the proposal and the lack of understanding of what an agent/manager/promoter does is my next red flag. Managers sell the time and life-energy of their clients. Good ones treasure this , as it is a limited commodity. This is one of the primary  reasons why it is so difficult to contact celebrities.  It amazes me when the would-be promoter insists that I spend infinite amounts of my time listening to their complaints about how I am not  (insert complaint) and how the solution is for me to spend even more time with them  listening to their complaints.

Every moment of my time spent with this way is wasted. It is effectively money down the drain. If you come to me and audition, as it were, for the job of my manager, you need to demonstrate your competence to me. If you don’t come up with the workshops, the paying participants, or the money, and you squander my time and energy, you are failing your audition. And you, the manager, will not be taking home the big bucks. Why my insisting that any wanna-be manager has to demonstrate their competence causes such an enormous amount of  resentment and ill-will on their part has been a mystery to me.

I  find it especially confusing because I am not advertising for a manager. I sat down and ran the numbers on what it would take to make a living doing weekend workshops years ago. It is not worth it, even if I have no manager, do all my own work behind the scenes, and take home all the money. A three-day workshop takes at least  five days of my time, because I have to travel the day before and the day after. It is even more time if I go overseas.  Meanwhile I have to make sure I have my home-front covered. That can get expensive, either because you are paying some one competent to take care of things, or because things did not get taken care of while you were gone. It is really not a privilege for me to spend my  time away from home in trains, planes, hotels and restaurants. It is costly on every level. It is also exhausting and draining at best, more so if the organizers are difficult to deal with. And that is before I even get to my presentation. So when the wanna be manager starts on the ‘you are so lucky to be doing this’ rant, that is my third red flag

I don’t underestimate what I can do as a presenter, but I don’t over-estimate it either. From my point of view, most westerners do not have the neural hard-wiring to go in and out of trance states at their own volition. Even though the ability to alter our states of consciousness at will is inherent in our human existence, most people do not know how to access it. Our brain is wondrously adaptable and it practices something called synaptic pruning. Very simply that means use it or lose it.  We have put our children in chairs for most of their waking hours, and we chastise them for daydreaming. The synapses connecting the conscious verbal intellectual mind to the body and to the infinite realms of the imagination get pruned.

However, the brain can be stimulated to re-pattern itself and re-establish these connections. I use sound, I use story-telling, I use body posture and movement, and I use my own neural template to facilitate that re-patterning. There are some interesting studies on how that all works, but that is a different blog. Suffice it to say that it is strenuous for me. If I do my part right, the trance work feels good. There is a sense of connection to a greater community, human and otherwise, that feels good. Old blocks releasing and gaining a sense of ones own body and purpose feels good.

Meaningful work  by the individual is what consolidates those good feelings. Some of the most touching feedback I get years after the event. It took ten years for one man who is a Kuwait war veteran tell me that he felt like a sociopath when he returned to civilian life from fighting because the only time he came alive was when he was in a kill-or-be-killed situation. He wanted me to know that his experience during a single ceremony with me had given him back his sense of humanity and allowed him to become the healer he wanted to be. He took a very brief experience with me, and turned into something life-changing for himself. And he found a way to share that with others. We relate from positions of strength and mutual respect.That gives me sense of satisfaction.

One of the basic tenants of advertising is the most cost-effective avenues lock in your repeat clients. I had one wanna-be manager type tell me that I needed to start selling photographs of myself because what people wanted was a piece of me and the secret to success was to make sure that I cultivated that desire without ever satisfying it. Needless to say, we have very different ideas of what defines success, and that is yet another red flag.   I once saw the spiritual teacher Gangagi throw every cushion on her couch at a person who announced she could never get enough during satsang. It was a humorous way of addressing a very serious and deep-seated issue , but I find that pointless repetition simply for the rush drains my energy.

What I see with both the wanna-be managers and those who plagiarize my work is that they want the rush without the work (click here). One went so far as to wear earplugs during a ceremony facilitated with Peruvian whistling vessels, drums and rattles, and voice. The outburst of vindictive rage, blame, resentment, and insult when I tell these people they need to get on with their own lives is intense. Interestingly enough, some of the angriest of these still follow (and criticize) my work. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, even when liberally leavened with spite, so I try to keep some distance on the whole issue (click here).  But pathos is the word that comes to my mind. It is truly tragic that not only are such people resistant to doing their own work, they actively resent others who are doing so.

Right now,the  standard fee for a weekend speaker runs a minimum of about $5,000  plus travel, food, and lodging. That means they agree to appear at an event, do their spiel, and go home. After taxes, expenses, and lost income from other activities set aside to present, that works out to about a living wage. Will I do workshops in the future? Maybe, on occasion, if I feel the risks to my health and investment of my time and energy are worthwhile. Meanwhile, infamy is still  fame, as long as my name gets spelled right. .

The blog, on the other hand, allows me a public presence with a private life.  Anyone with a computer can read my words firsthand. Comments allow personal interaction in a way that workshops don’t. And it gives me the freedom to get on with making enough money to pay the bills without having to deal with invitations like this one:

  • Would like to invite you to our conference...
  • you would have to pay for your own
  • food, lodging and transportation
    and  it would be an outdoors presentation
    with hardly any sound reinforcement
  • or pay.

(click for more)

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