Call me an “expert,” and I will correct you. Call me a “guru,” and I might throw up on you.
Re: “expert”: My books are the by-products of the process of trying to figure out how to be a writer and an artist. When I write, when I publish, when I speak, it is in the spirit of being a fellow student. I am simply sharing the things that I am learning. I not only do not consider myself an expert, being an expert seems unbelievably boring to me. Becoming an expert, to me, seems like a kind of spiritual death. A kind of creative petrification. (As my friend Mike Monteiro recently put it, “the secret to being good at anything is to approach it like a curious idiot, rather than a know-it-all genius.”)
Re: “guru”: What reasonable human being would actually want to be a guru? (Again: answers are boring. Questions are interesting.) The people in American culture who position themselves as gurus seem to all have either what the comedian Bill Hicks called “a fevered ego,” or they seem to have some extreme character deficiency. More than that, from what I’ve seen, the more you’re considered a “guru,” the harder it is to tell what it is that you actually do. (My nightmare is becoming someone who talks about making art more than actually making art.)
On top of all that, I am starting to feel that the best teacher is the one who refuses you as a student. I’ll end with this parable from John Cage’s Silence: