Feeling sad


I'm sure you've heard that I devote a goodly amount of my time to the Mormon arts community. I promote folks' work here and at Motley Vision and, newly, at Linescratchers (not to mention frequent tweets on the subject). And if you've paid really close attention, you'll know that I was once burned by another player in the community and so I try to be supertransparent so no one I work with will ever feel burned.

But guess what? I've failed. Now there's a young Mormon artist out there who hates me, who thinks I attempted to take advantage of him, that I mocked him, who thinks I'm pretty much a grade-A bastard. And while I'm used to being thought a grade-A bastard (I teach high school, after all), his final email has really been eating at me. And I think I've figured out why:

What if this interaction has damaged the community?

I don't want out failure to communicate to result in one more hater who thinks Mormons can't succeed in the arts. One more bloke who thinks the community is filled with amateurs and fools and, yes, grade-A bastards. What if this animosity drips into other realms and I end up meeting people (in my community!) who enter their first conversation with a sure and certain knowledge that Theric is a grade-A bastard?

I know that it's impossible to get through life without causing and receiving offense and I don't see much reason to let this bother me, but it is bothering me. It is. But I don't see any possible way for me to fix the breach. If he's decided I'm a snake, no apology will be taken seriously. Add to that the fact that I don't feel much guilt (I thought I was being helpful and forthright, no matter how he interpreted my intentions) and I don't see anyway to solve this problem. A couple more night's sleep and I won't think about it much anymore, and I hope the same is true of him. I don't feel animosity when I think of him or our exchanges. Just sadness.

I just feel sad.


  1. I think I'd prefer to be thought a grade-A bastard rather than a amateur or fool.

  2. I tend to believe that the truth comes out, in the end, and the truth is that you are not any of the things he thinks you are. So, the more he is involved in the Mormon arts community, the more he'll run into different versions of you and people who have a better opinion of you. If he can't reevaluate the situation based on more information, that's his problem, not yours.

  3. Eh, you know, he's young. I was very easily embittered then by things I didn't understand, like, "It's just business." I'm only slightly less embitterable now.

    Anyhoo. YOU are not like the person who burned you. Your feelings on that have borne fruit. Very often I stewed in silence about unfairness dealt me (because life is not fair, right?) and it turned out I was RIGHT and I wasn't the only one. But there were times I was bitter about a person just trying to balance what's right with what was more right and I was collateral damage. I didn't understand at the time, but I do now. (I also grieve for lost opportunities when I was too young to understand the value of what was being offered me and its potential.)

    Thus, as Katya points out, as your reputation grows as a good artistic partner and cultivator, either he will come to understand why this wasn't working or he will be the lone voice in a wilderness of dissenting opinions and will not be able to be heard.

  4. .

    Thanks for those thoughts. I do have faith in things turning out in the end, I just want to take all the animals onto the ark.

  5. I know that my interactions with unforgiving people who I feel have expected unreasonable things of me or who have warped ideas about reality have really cooled my interest in playing in this pond.

    I don't relish getting mixed up with people who give me no wiggle room to be human and who think I purposefully did them wrong and then carry grudges that continue to echo out into the blogosphere for years and years afterward.

    It's happened twice so far, and the fear of it happening again has definitely curtailed my enthusiasm and willingness to keep taking risks, trying to trust people, work together, etc.

  6. .

    I can understand that. We never know what consequences our actions will have. If we stick around long enough, even if we're never purposefully jerky, eventually we will either do something inadvertently unkind or something that was not unkind but was still perceived that way. I've been waiting for this too happen.

    And outside of the arts community, it's already happened. Someone decided to stop attending church, I'm told, because of a Sunday School lesson I taught. Someone else, I'm told, threatened to go inactive because of how I was helping my wife fulfill her calling. In both cases, I was making a sincere effort to strengthen the Saints and it seems to have backfired.

    But I hope we never use that as an excuse to quit. We are expected to fail. (Ergo, Atonement.) What matters is that we admit our sins and carry on.

    Of course, that also requires that we can recognize where we've gone awry and when, should it happen, we were not in the wrong no matter what anyone says.

    May we never let misunderstanding dictate the limits of our lives.