The Powerful Connection of Alienation

Working Toward a Common Goal

I'm not sure if this is true for all areas of specialization, but personally, I experience a sensation of separation from people outside my areas of expertise. Let me explain.

Due to the requirements of consistent practice, performers face unusual time restrictions. Everybody faces time restrictions, but what makes these different is that the time restrictions of a performer are self-imposed. Many people become busy in bustle of life. The performer, on the other hand, manages life as to facilitate development in one or more areas of expertise.

Individuals in advanced stages of skill development have dedicated not only a large portion of their time, but a large portion of their mental bandwidth to mastery of the skill. This places restrictions within the very consciousness of the performer. Again, these are self-imposed limitations, which are understood to be necessary in order to facilitate the development of expertise.

In my experience, I find that my area of focus becomes so powerful that, when I develop a daily routine, months will fly by without any significant interruption of my flow. This experience, I believe, is both universal and critical for all those who seek mastery. For, it is the immersion in routine which allows high frequency training. As I've written elsewhere, high frequency training is the distinguishing opportunity which performers in higher states of consciousness have prioritized.

This kind of intense training means that you spend most of your time with people who are doing the same things you are. In my experience, my strongest friendships have been with my coaches , managers, co-workers, and team-mates. Working toward a common goal creates powerful ties between individuals, and can even help push people into higher states of consciousness.

Back to Lacan, Again . . .

The twist, of course, is that these self-imposed restrictions (required for dedication to a few areas of specialization) consequentially create a division between the self and others. The experience of high frequency training for extended periods of time creates isolation, and, for a period of time, most performers experience the sensation of being apart from other people, a sort of elitist feeling which distorts the ability to relate to the things that other people value.

Again, I will speak from personal experience. I often feel that other people's goals are simplistic, and that most of their mental bandwidth is spent on meeting their basic needs. I know better than to look down upon other people, but I am also smart enough to see that my perspective is drastically different from theirs. Over time, I have also started to see that the trajectory of my life is also very different, each of us having experiences that the other will never imagine. Again, I don't feel better than others, just set apart with a different set of challenges to face.

The reason I mention Lacan is because, the most powerful connections I experience come when I meet others who also experience the sensations I just described. What is remarkable is that, in a strange double-twist, it is our sense of alienation which re-enforces the idea that all performers share a universal set of meta-challenges, which we all have to deal with within our individual realms of expertise. It is in The Ticklish Subject that Slavoj Zizek explains this fascinating concept of universality in detail.

I have worked with scientists, engineers, musicians, and athletes - many of whom are world-class in what they do. This range of experiences has shown me that we as performers all face the challenge of coping with frantic obsession. We all make irrational decisions in order to support our passions. We all have to face the emotion of rejecting opportunities to spend time doing things outside our training - telling our friends "no" due to the power of the drive we face to continue training.

The Special Connection

It is these experiences of alienation which unite performers when they come together. The understanding of how it feels to truly develop mastery of a skill creates a unique perspective. We can feel the beauty of the performances of other people on a deeper level. The complexity of society becomes increasingly fascinating and mind numbing, as you see how people's practices ultimately affect the society around them. With this understanding comes a deep sense of respect for other people. Many performers feel enhanced sensations of compassion for others, striving later in their careers to help those who are learning about the things they do.

In higher states of consciousness, we see where we gain perspective on the special relationships we have to other people.


This short video is a metaphor which addresses the same topic I discussed above.


Read Zizek's explanation of this topic.

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