I believe that keeping secrets take energy. It takes mental discipline to maintain secrets, so having too many of them becomes a burden. In the other words, living a life of complete honesty and transparency may be very relaxing and relieving. That is, if you are not seriously bothered by the consequence of telling and living the truth.
I have many secrets, and secrets mostly originate from fear. Fear that something bad is going to happen when they are revealed. A secret is a social convention — there’s no secret where there are no “others” to think of. So the main motivation behind secrets may go along the lines of: “if others knew [your secret] about me then they’ll think/say/do this which will be bad.”
Notice there are a lot of assumptions in there. In a way, you are putting words into others’ mouths. But what others think of you isn’t really the problem. The real problem here is what you think others think, and when your fear is the one dictating that, there is no escape — it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So we keep up the pretense, and indulge in our own illusion of what others think of ourselves by concocting images of ourselves that we feel are desirable and appropriate. And it hurts a lot when you perceive that someone found a chink in your armor.
One of my fears that I struggle with my music is this fear that if I somehow set out to make this sort of morality-driven music, then people will expect me to be a “good” person. As in ethically perfect, morally upright, do-no-wrong human being. If I write compassionate music, I surely must be someone who gives abundantly to all charities and volunteers at the local shelter and go build houses for the homeless. I don’t know where such an idea comes from, but judging from people’s reactions to politicians and bands like U2, I do perceive that kind of expectation. When you put up conscience as part of your identity there’s expectation of you being 100% that.
Well the truth is that I am a struggling human being. I set out to achieve my dream in music over 20 years ago and thus far I failed to achieve it. The truth is that I’m a lone basement musician. The truth is that my office/studio is a filthy mess. The truth is that I consume illegally distributed media. The truth is that I have failed at keeping consistent routines of practicing, dieting, and exercising. The truth is that I was trying to show only my good sides so people will think I am an expert or I have some value to offer. The truth is that I lie.
The weird thing about being an artist is that there is a perception of audience seeing the art and equating that with the artist. That’s only partially true. What gets put into the art is a distillation of a particular aspect of who we are. Few art, even a body of work can represent a real, whole human being. They are not meant to do so.
I am making music because my life feels so hopeless and pointless without doing so. I write about empathy and compassion because that’s what I care about. If it happens to have a positive impact on someone’s life, I’ll be ecstatic, but that’s not the main reason why I do this. I’m just an idiosyncratic, quirky, erratic, inconsistent, selfish human being. I have a lot that I’m hiding, but I will do my best to come clean on them, because keeping up pretense sucks my energy. Sometimes I wish if I was a hobbyist musician, content to make personal creations in his basement just for his personal enjoyment. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s not what I am. I make creations to share, and by sharing, I am also presenting me, the artist. And I will do my best to minimize my secrets because I am trying to reduce the parts of my life that’s driven by fear. Whatever the consequences are of being who I am, I better learn to live with it.
Because the consequences of living a pretense are even more devastating. I’ve lived with that long enough to know.