ESP is sometimes referred to as the sixth sense, a hunch, intuition, premonition, telepathy, vision, second sight. Something that exists outside of the normal sensory perception of living, ESP seems to be about feeling, sensing, and trusting. I think that to be a good artist you have to have an element of ESP because creativity is about feeling your way and trusting that the way is going to lead you to the best of creative worlds.
The kind of ESP I discovered today is different, but related, and I made the discovery by working through a personal family situation.
Here’s the story … One of my nephews has just crossed the numerical threshold from childhood to adulthood and is feeling confusion, weirdness and the challenge that a loss of direction can bring, plus the usual crappy stuff you have to deal with when you’re 18. He’s looking for a job, not an easy task for anyone, especially not a shy young man who seems to have no CV and minimal life skills. So, he’s needed encouragement. He’s also needed support from the adults in his life, and as I write my brother (nephew’s Dad ) has gone with him to cold contact 20 employers in his suburb, waiting outside so that after the onerous task of introducing himself to employers and asking for work his son can see a friendly face, debrief and get a pat on the back for a job well done. My nephew may not need this kind of close support in the future but for now, I think it’s paramount.
So the ESP came about as I reflected on our roles in this young man’s life and what he could (should) expect from us. And for me it boils down to three things:
E – Encouragement
S – Support
P – Praise
I love the word encourage because it reminds me of sweet little currants (yum!) but also contains ‘courage’. I think it takes courage to encourage and to accept the encouragement. It takes courage to see the glass half full, to see the potential, to show the way and to see. It’s definitely a shine-the-light kind of word.
Support makes me think of steel and concrete; big bridges and structures. It’s a word that has roots, grounded and sure. It’s an earthy word. A word of shoulders - to lean on, to carry when the going gets tough. I like this word.
Praise is firey. I got so excited when my nephew finished an online course yesterday - I could feel the fire ignite in my belly and heaped praise on him for getting the job done. Fire is catching and can also be encouraging, so the cycle keeps spiralling up. That’s the idea anyway. One last word on Praise: I love collecting cards so that when an occasion arises I can flip through an assortment of postcards and images, old and new, and choose the right one to gift to friends and family. Sometimes, though, I hold onto them, like the one I found a few years ago in Bali. It is small and simple. It fits into the palm of my hand and has white writing on a bold, black background. It resonated with me at the time and still does, which is why it sits on the dresser in my bedroom, still in its clear packaging, a message I see every day (&, yes, it’s in uppercase):
Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant!! card which, even though I haven't given it away, you can now copy and make your own.
And even though the idea of ESP came about through reflecting on the life circumstances of a teenager, it is also a short-hand way to improve out relationship with ourselves:
Encourage – to do
Support – while doing
Praise – when done
So many artists I know, myself included, have insecurities about their talents and abilities. It takes practice to encourage, support and praise ourselves, and it is absolutely necessary – so that we can all be thriving, creative artists.