But as she rose halfway out of her chair, I saw her look sheepishly to the left, and then to the right, as if trying to find someone else to endorse what she wanted to do. Far away, in another section of the concert hall and also in the front row, another lone woman stood gyrating back and forth; that’s all the woman 10 rows in front of me needed to boost her confidence.
The people seated directly behind her weren’t excited by her decision to stand up and start swaying. They started craning first left, then right, then left and right again, moving inversely of her so their own view of the concert wasn’t obscured. No one said anything, but watching their facial expressions and gestures said it all: This woman, swaying to the beat of her own drummer, was inconveniencing them and didn’t care a whit about it.
I’ve often wondered about that thin, thin line between truly creative expression and annoying selfishness. So many successful people have a stubborn streak of individualism, one way more developed than that living within the rest of us. They aren’t as afraid to stand up in front of a crowd, whether welcome or not. They don’t seem as concerned with public opinion as you or I might be. They’re content to do their thing without worrying about the rest of us.
Of course, willingness to stand up in front of the crowd, in and of itself, isn’t automatically praiseworthy. There are times when public courage is clearly called for, and there are times when perhaps discretion is the better part of valor.
But the strange thing is that while some people sit around trying to determine the appropriate action to take, others just hop up and start dancing – they just do it.
Interestingly enough, one of music’s most creative and unpredictable artists was the guy on stage. There stood Bob Dylan, gargling out the words to his songs and unconcerned with his audience during the entire two-hour concert. I didn’t notice him looking around the stage to see what the other musicians were doing; in fact, some of them were downright hammy, playing to the crowd and reveling in the adulation.
Instead, Dylan stared at his keyboard or guitar and sang, seemingly more for himself than for the rest of us. And he sang what he wanted to sing – even if that meant that some of his favorites didn’t make the playlist.
Only as the concert ended did Dylan look directly at the crowd and acknowledge us. He was glad we were there, I suppose, because we pay his bills, but he might have been just as content to bang out his music in an empty garage.
He never saw the woman swaying in front of our section, and if he had, it probably wouldn’t have bothered him anyway.
He didn’t care what we thought about him or how he acted. He seemed like the kind of guy who wouldn’t worry about blocking the view of others if it suited him.