#2 The Tender Inner Swirlings Of Herr Lightfoot

Micro-Fame, Bitter Tea & The Great Work

Greetings Friends,

This time around I’m feeling to share some of my inner world with you before exploring the latest developments in my work. Then I’ll finish up with a little dessert buffet of links I’ve found to be particularly inspiring and entertaining.

The Inner Swirl

Warning - Quasi Therapeutic Content Alert - Skip straight to the next section if you’re not into that.

Part One - Bitter Tea In The Realness Cubby

I’ve been on somewhat of a ‘being real’ quest as of late. For me this has involved getting in touch with my inner darkness and revealing to others the parts of myself that I’m most ashamed of. It’s also entailed adjusting the parameters and tone of my most important relationships. Sometimes this has gone well. Other times it’s been an intensely painful circus of Ouch that’s resulted in me having to distance from people I hold very close to my heart. All resulting from the fact that I’ve been upping my levels of realness with myself and others.

In essence I’ve been trying to show up as a more unified whole rather than as a distant coalition of the Public - ‘It’s all good, I’m on track and achieving’ Joe and the Private ‘Life is really challenging and I’m not always sure I can hold on’ Joe. And I’m discovering this is a delicate process because there appears to be a rather narrow sweet spot of emergent authenticity between respecting a general sense of decorum, honouring other peoples boundaries (ie. not spraying my shadow all over the place) and yet still staying true to the ever more resounding voice inside of me that is urging me to put words to what I’m really feeling, but don’t usually express.

And the stakes are high because if the other person isn’t up for meeting me in that same place (often for perfectly valid reasons) then I risk triggering an unintended sense of ‘not enoughness’ in them which is often quickly followed by either their shutting down or retaliating from a place of hurt or shame. And then I feel a sense of responsibility and guilt arise because I love them so dearly and don’t want to see them suffer. Which serves as a whole new invitation to step back from my position of ‘truth’ into a less authentic but more familiar place of ‘faux safety’. Because I really, really don’t wanna be left all alone in my little cubby house of ‘realness’ pouring tea for my imaginary friends and telling myself that my new found sense of individuation was worth the collateral damage to my nearest and dearest relationships.

All this to say is that I’m learning that the dance of opening up to more realness is an incredibly complex one, best practiced with those dancing to similar music at a similar intensity. I’ll keep you posted on how all this unfolds.

Part Two - The Trappings Of Micro-Fame

Since my last correspondence I’ve officially transitioned from being a medium sized fish in a small community pond into a tiny minnow in a much bigger Meta-Ocean. In other words I now have a micro fanbase. And in the spirit of exorcising shame I want to share with you two delightfully embarrassing dynamics which have emerged in myself as a result. The first was a recent bout of Clout Chasing. It arose specifically in relation to my experience on Clubhouse (a new social media platform based solely on live audio exchanges) where due to the newness of the app there was a brief window of opportunity to gain a large amount of followers simply by spending a lot of time jumping from room to room making bold proclamations and generally sounding important by saying things like ‘yes, but have you ensconced all seventeen of Kierkegaards epistemic vectors into your multipolar analysis?’.

Ughh. On more than one occasion I spent time in conversations purely to try and gain exposure for myself, desperate to see my tiny little number of followers swell to what felt like a respectable level. In essence, I sold out. Thankfully since then I’ve been able to integrate this desire for status, but I know the potential is still there inside of me and I shudder to think what I might have done in certain moments if there’d been serious money or any kind of significant exposure on the table. Would I have sold my soul? I’d thought I was relatively immune to the allure of social media status candy, almost above it all. How wrong I was! And that extra bit more humbling because of how quick I’ve been to judge others for doing exactly the same thing in the past. All this is teaching me that we’re often most scornful of those aspects of others that we are not yet comfortable recognising and accepting in ourselves.

The second dynamic has been a case of Imposter Syndrome. In certain moments I’ve become intensely cognisant of just how brilliant the people I’m engaging with are and have suddenly felt unworthy of their attention, as if I’m a student that’s snuck into the teachers lounge in order to steal all the biscuits. What’s given me some solace is hearing from others that they often feel the same thing. Perhaps there is an imposter in all of us, a fraudulent aspect of our psyche skulking around in quiet anticipation of the ultimate de-robing. Wouldn’t be great if we could all just de-robe at once and simultaneously realise that no true emperor has in fact ever been wearing any clothes.

The Great Work Continues

And now some updates on how my work is evolving:

  • What’s calling to me most right now however is getting started on my next book which I’m intending to call Becoming Community Creatures. The Muse is all but shouting in my ear but I feel there are at least four or five more articles I want to finish before starting my next pilgrimage up the literary mountain. I mean honestly Muse, does anyone even read books any more? I’m tempted to just become a Tik Tok dancer instead and chase that instant gratification high, but I should be careful what I wish for because I’m sure after a couple thousand likes on my first Reverse Twerk video the Tik Tok Clout Chasing monster would probably eat me alive

  • And I’m finally Podding again. It’s lovely to be back in a five person container after doing most of my emotional explorations and shadow work in a one to one setting over the last six months. We’re not sure yet if we’ll keep it going beyond the initial commitment of six sessions together but it’s a lovely collection of characters and I feel there is a strong therapeutic bond slowly coalescing between us.

The Treasure Trove

  • I really enjoyed this Atlantic article about People Who Prioritise Friendship Over Romance. It explores the question ‘What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life?’. Replace the word Friendship with Neotribal Kin Buddy and you’d have the title for my next article!

  • Daniel Pinchbecks most recent newsletter explores a number of fascinating ideas revolving around the question What Happened To Art?. One of his conclusions that ‘we may find the next threshold of artistic expression — the thing we are waiting for, in other words — not in traditional art-making but in the launch of new “social sculptures” that orchestrate human interactions’ really struck me.

  • Here’s a beautiful one minute film from Iran called ‘Thursday Appointment’. It’s romantic and touched me very deeply.

  • And last but definitely not least I present to you the one and only Brian David Gilbert (BDG). My dear friend Jason Fox first put me onto BDG’s pitch perfect Building Your Online Brand video but I feel this piece on How To Make Jorts is perhaps his finest. During the lockdown here in Melbourne I was watching BDG most nights and for me he is the perfect blend of sweet, kitsch, nerdy, hilarious and dark. Long live the Independent Youtube Star!

Well that’s it for now my friends. Until next time, sharing all the warmth 🔥

Joe

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