I had an amusing conversation the other day with a writer I’ve known for several years. This particular guy has a penchant for the comedic and the absurd, which always makes for interesting (although not always coherent) conversation between the two of us. I enjoy our discussions, especially since they tend to escape those useful, but often frustrating, constraints we know as “logic,” and allow for a bit of imagination and suspended disbelief. Our chats often turn into an exercise in “believing six impossible things before breakfast,” as Lewis Carroll once suggested.
This particular conversation turned to the recent trend in cinematography of filming and screening a movie three-dimensionally – or as you and I know it, in 3D. True to the absurdist nature of our previous exchanges, the question quickly came up (and I don’t remember which one of us raised it) as to whether a certain well-known director would soon be shooting and screening films in 4D. I mentioned the obvious fact that the first three dimensions are length, width, and depth, and then, purposefully ignoring time travel and the tesseract, I wondered out loud what that fourth dimension would look like in movie making.
“The four dimensions of film?” my friend wryly responded. “That would be length, width, depth, and ego.”
The world of the arts and entertainment is not the easiest field to navigate, in particular because of the overinflated egos that creative artists all too often develop. That sort of pride mucks up everything – creativity, relationships, business decisions – you name it. Usually, that sort of ego is a mask for an artist’s own insecurities, but whatever the source may be, every creative person can fall prey to pride.
Unfortunately, that includes you and me. In fact, if you think you’re exempt from the danger of pride, I’m afraid that you’ve already fallen into its clutches. And the problem with pride is that it distorts an artist’s perspective about reality, and if there is anything that an artist must protect, it is his or her perspective. After all, art at its most basic definition is the communication of one’s perspective. (Just what makes any particular work good art is a topic I’ll save for another time.) All that to say that if you have a distorted perspective – even a distorted perspective of yourself, which is what pride takes great pleasure in creating – you will have a hard time being everything you were meant to be as an artist.
I hear many people pray, “Lord, make me humble,” and perhaps rightly so, but they forget that the Bible instructs, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Humility is my duty and yours; exalting is God’s responsibility. Too often we spend our time doing the opposite: asking God to humble us while we spend all our time and energies lifting ourselves up, along with our own art and talents and abilities. What wonderful developments might occur if only we would just do our own job and trust God to do His?
So how do we find humility in a world full of egos? Allow me to offer some advice by way of a definition: Humility is simply agreeing with what God says is true about you. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Nothing more, nothing less.
In fact, some people swing to the opposite extreme of the overinflated ego by making themselves out to be less than they actually are. But this perspective of self is also in disagreement with what God says is true, and in the end, such people do just as much harm to themselves and others as their puffed-up counterparts do. That is only false humility, and I think you’ll agree with me: Nothing stinks of true pride like false humility.
I think that my friend may have had it backwards. Perhaps humility is that elusive fourth dimension in film. For nothing is as beautiful and moving as ability and humility traveling together as one.
All my best,