The other day I come across this blog post, where the author, Cat Chapin-Bishop discussed a desire to be able to meet with someone as a peer, as opposed to needing to take a class to have access to the person. I then read a post by Jason Miller, which while not written as a response to the one I’ve mentioned above, fittingly enough does present a counter perspective in regards to who has access to an occult author. In his post Jason makes it clear that certain boundaries are needed when you have a certain degree of fame and that a certain level of protocol and etiquette needs to be maintained in order to connect with him. The issue that both of these people bring up in their respective ways boils down to access, specifically who has access and connection to people who are considered prominent within a given community.
My feeling on this topic comes somewhere between the two perspectives already mentioned. I am in favor of peer relationships, but I also think that the nature of such relationships changes to some degree as you become an expert in your field. Also as someone who has a bit of fame, I’ve found that people want access to someone famous without necessarily considering that person’s needs. They want to bask in their perception of that person and as a result the relationship is less about a peer connection and more about validation of themselves via having a connection to the famous person (A great example of this in action is someone who likes to name drop who they know that’s famous. It’s more important to them that they are perceived as someone who knows someone famous).
Like Jason, I do have certain protocols in place when it comes to how people can connect with me, and how I prefer for them to connect with me. The reason those protocols are in place is because I want my privacy respected and because I am selective about who I let in my life. On occasion I’ve had people who’ve wanted my opinion or perspective on their projects, or even wanted me to participate in those projects (with an expectation that I would participate), as if I should feel obligated to do so. What I’ve felt instead is that it’s been more of an intrusion on my time to write and work on my own ideas, which I’ll admit are much more precious to me. As such I tend to limit my connections in specific ways, because in doing so I also preserve and cultivate my creative genius which is an integral part of my own spiritual and practical work.
Nonetheless, I also feel that it’s important to connect to the community at large. I create certain opportunities for people to connect with me. Some of those opportunities are paid for, such as through the Process of Magic class or the class I’ll soon be offering on Space/Time Magic, and some of those opportunities come about as a result of attending a convention where I’m speaking, at which point I do make every effort to speak with people who want to connect with me. I even offer a chance to connect with me once a month, in person, if you happen to be in PDX (living here or visiting) and attend one of our monthly meet-ups (subscribe to my e-newsletter to learn more). People who attend those meetings regularly end up becoming friends and cultivating a deeper relationship with me because they’ve come to know me as Taylor the person as opposed to Taylor the author. However all of these ways to connect with me are filtered to a certain degree in order to also allow me to maintain my own space and focus on my own work and also are filtered by the fact that the type of access isn’t necessarily a peer relationship, but rather a teacher/student relationship. Such a relationship can still provide a sense of connection and community, but it does not automatically provide a peer connection.
When it comes to peer relationships, I’m picky. I want people I can collaborate with or have a good discussion with, but also people who know and understand that I have my own commitments. I have a few people I connect with on a somewhat regular basis and those people aren’t all fellow authors (most of them aren’t in fact). They are people I’d happily meet up with for a bagel, but they are also people engaged in a similar level of work and as such my interest in developing a peer relationship is partially motivated by wanting to know more about their work and what they are doing as well as by the opportunity to brain storm together. They are people who intrigue me with what they do and as a result I connect with them because I feel a sense of connection and camaraderie based on our mutual interest (hopefully they feel the same about me).
You can’t force a specific type of relationship to happen. A relationship of any type occurs organically, based on what each person brings to the relationship. For me what makes a relationship valuable is how people treat each other. Anyone who contacts me in a respectful manner will be treated respectfully. At the same time, I do maintain the right to have my own boundaries and enforce them as needed. The fact is I still have a lot I want to write and do and in order to do that I find that I need a fair amount of me time, because that’s what really allows me to do the level of research, experimentation, and writing that I want to do. I think recognizing the boundaries you need is an essential part of establishing healthy relationships with yourself and other people.