The difference between touching an audience’s emotions vs touching their souls
I’ve been thinking about how the primary goal of any creative expression is to make people feel something. This truly is why we create. We want to evoke emotions in the audience. Ultimately, that is also why we view and enjoy art (and by art I’m including all art forms and mediums).
We want to be moved. It’s that thrill of not knowing how we will be moved that fills theatres, galleries, cinemas, auditoriums. We have expectations based on genre and the familiarity we have with the artists, but beyond that, we want to experience something new, something that gets us out of our everyday emotions.
But, and here is the but… for artists, there is a difference between moving an audience emotionally (surface level) and touching their souls (deep level). And that difference does not come from quality of performance, hard work, or even experience in your field. It does not come because of anything you do, it comes through what you allow.
It comes from surrendering to the idea that you are a channel.
A channel for the sacred, for the divine, for beauty and spirit, for Something Greater Than You. This surrender may or may not be a conscious decision, but when someone gives themselves fully over to this sacred impulse and energy, the result is that an audience is stunned silent. The kind of stunned silence when you have witnessed the raw power of spirit at work, where you are humbled, in reverence, in awe.
The human soul knows when it has been touched by the sacred, and no amount of planning, working, or striving can make this phenomena happen. You can’t set out to achieve it.
You can only empty your Self so fully that the Sacred pours out of you and through you. You can only show up, with such humility and trust in how your are guided, that what emerges is no longer “your talent” but something all of its own power. The greatest artists are those whose trust in this sacred flow is so deep and unbreakable that they appear almost arrogant in their confidence. They are extremely good at what they do, but it’s not just because they practice, it’s because they listen so deeply and so intently to their inner guidance and they heed what they hear.
They refuse to be led down paths they know aren’t the path for them. They say no to work that others believe would bring greater acclaim or income. They are stubborn and defiant and heed only the advice of others when that advice aligns with what they hear in their heart.
These artists don’t necessarily know when spirit is channeling through them, except by the sense that the work feels right, feels aligned, feels like it’s moving. Sometimes they don’t even know this is how spirit moves through them until an audience reflects it back. Because sometimes it’s only the audience that is aware of the sacredness, while the artist worries he or she didn’t do enough or could have done it better.
To be an artist like this, requires resolute determination to trust your Self the most. This doesn’t mean you can’t take direction from where you should be allowing direction to influence you, but it does mean you step aside, open yourself up as a channel, and allow what comes through you to be pure and undiluted by other people’s endless opinions.
No one can predict or promise that your work will touch an audience’s soul. And really, the audience’s reaction isn’t within your control. What is in your control is how surrendered you are, how humble you are, how willing you are to be the servant of the work, the steward of the vision, the trustee of the story.