Author:  Paul Thorson
Title:  "Painting in the Dark"
Publisher:  Integrity Publishers

"If performance is what I do, and identity is who I am, reputation is others' interpretation of my performance and identity." If this sentence is true, then my reputation is determined by others' perceptions of my actions, or performance, if you will, filtered through personal bias.

Taken further, when my actions meet with approval then my self-esteem goes up. When disapproval, from others or in the form of self-criticism, abounds self-esteem plummets. What a lousy way to live, identity and self-worth tied to the fickle opinions of those around you. So how to get through life without succumbing to the "my reputation is me" mentality? "Painting in the Dark" attempts to answer that question. The author, Paul Thorson, uses incidents from his own life as examples.

The first chapter begins as he watches a young musician suffer a meltdown on stage. He relates his observations as the humiliated violinist storms off stage, followed by the conductor. He's also able to see the two return, as the prodigal musician is forced back onto the stage by the conductor who refused to give up on him. How does a performer separate who he is from his actions on the stage? While most of us won't suffer the humiliation of a total meltdown in front of our peers, we will struggle as life is played out on private stages in front of fickle audiences.

For me, this book was frustrating to read at times. It was uneven, with gems mixed in with incomplete thoughts and chapters that didn't quite fit the theme of the book as I read them. But, eventually, most of the loose strands were gathered up and tied together by the end of the book.

An excerpt posted on Infuze several weeks ago is part of one of the gems. There is much more to his dark room demonstration than could be posted and it is, in my mind, the most thought-provoking chapter in the book. A powerful demonstration of darkness and light, I find myself dissecting it days after I finished the book.

A musician, author, teacher and currently a church planter in the Ukraine, Paul Thorson has a wealth of experience to draw upon and that he does, allowing us to see him in his strengths and, more importantly, his struggles and weaknesses. This book, though uneven, can help anyone who struggles with performing for the masses and knowing this isn't the way things are supposed to be. It is also for anyone who finds their identity, their reason for being, wrapped up in what they do. We are so much more than that. "It is about discovering that on our best days we are weaker than we ever knew and more loved than we ever hoped." A beam of light for those struggling to paint in the dark.
 

 © 2006 Infuze Magazine.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.