Feeling a bit lost and insignificant on the internet, I got to thinking the other day about how to best promote myself and my work.
Because my mind tends to make odd connections, I was immediately reminded of a brief description of heaven and hell that became popular in Christian circles a few years ago. In hell, the souls of the damned were all seated around a sumptious banquet table with every delectable treat set before them. But their elbow joints had been locked so that, try as they might, not one of them could get spoon or fork to their own mouth. They spent their days eternally cursing and swearing over their inability to sample the array of delicious goodies in front of them.
In heaven, by contrast, the souls of the saints sat around a sumptious banquet table with every delectable treat set before them, their elbows all gloriously locked so that no one might inadvertently think to feed himself, but each one could spend his days caring for and feeding his companions seated across the table.
I once read a bio of Ansel Adams, in which the author tried to explain why Adams had become the dean of his generation of photographers. In Adams’ day, there were many talented photographers working in the new medium of large format black and white photography. Images in the high detail, high contrast style in which Adams specialized were produced by many. Adams excelled, however, in attempting to teach the new art to others. He gave lectures, wrote books, mentored younger photographers, and for years he was tireless in encouraging galleries to promote exhibits of work by newcomers to the field. The result is, that Ansel Adams himself is the one whom we best remember.
There is an ancient Jewish rabbinic teaching that summarizes this neatly, in far fewer words than I ever could:
Who is honored?
He who honors others.