During the most wonderful time of the year LAST year, I was bruised, bloody, crying, and/or pride-less in the great toothless tragedy of 2014.
This year's holiday leaves me jobless, lifeless, hungry, lonely, and sad-mad.
Okay, fine, I'm not always hungry.
Who am I kidding? Yes I am.
Since my tour with the National Theatre for Children, I have had the same conversation about my life with innumerable acquaintances:
"So you graduated college? You worked with some theaters? Cool! What's next? What are you doing now? Any other adventures planned?!"
"I'm indefinitely living with my parents, mooching their food, and trying to get a job and another place to live while my student loans slowly kill me, and my artistic output gets delayed day after day until someone decides that hiring a guy with a theatre arts degree for a part-time position would be a good investment in the future of American society."
"...So what's your favorite Christmas movie?"
I'll admit, I'm being a little over-dramatic. Things aren't as bad as I make them out to be, but when you're jobless and searching for jobs for any amount of time past 1 month, you can go a little crazy.
I'm lucky enough to have my parents allow me to live with them rent-free and that I have Ladyfriend to support me every step of the way. I miss my college friends, naturally, but when I do see them, those moments are far more meaningful than they have been in the past.
So, yes, I'm doing fine. There are plenty of good things about life.
But holy frickin' guacamole if it isn't harder than trying to get a frozen acorn out of a mountain.
Something in my life makes me feel exactly like Scrat and his mountain. All I want to do is pursue that acorn and love it forever (the acorn being my dreams). However, the mountain around me has begun to crumble and fall and threaten my very existence, despite my childlike determination to hold on to that acorn without abandon. Perhaps it's my student loans. Perhaps it's my loss of a social life. Perhaps it's the fact that my whole life has been filled with teachers giving me syllabus after syllabus declaiming my schedule and important tasks to undertake in order to succeed forcing me to feel the need to always carry a 3-ring binder around with all of my "important documents" in it (which I do but is really only filled with scratch paper and doodles), yet now I have no one except myself to stay accountable to.
I'm not exactly sure what it is, but the mountain above me looks a little closer every day.
In my running away from the moment of crushing lifeless *poof* that the mountain will surely bring, I've managed to maintain my sanity long enough to obtain several activities that tighten my hold onto that acorn. The first is writing freelance stories for a local newspaper in my hometown, the Pine City Pioneer. (Here's the first story I wrote, it's about Christmas lights. And here's one about a community choir concert.) The second opportunity is teaching classes at the Pine Center for the Arts (I'm currently scheduled to teach a class about the Fundamentals of Mime in January and a basic Stage Combat class in February).
These activities should be fun and hopefully supplemental to both my resume and my pocket, but they are not the end goal, not even close. Some folks I've talked to have expressed to me a degree of "Then why are you doing it?" In fact, I had a conversation the other day where someone said to me, "I thought for sure you'd be out there doing big things, not here in Pine City."
While yes, it is not my wish to be living with my parents for the rest of my life, and yes, it does make me jealous to see my friends living in apartments working real adult jobs, and yes, I do not know what I'm going to do next month...
I'm figuring it out.
My whole life, I've been expected to have everything on time, efficient, effective, timely, and fast. It's caused me to really dread down time, relaxation, and the slow moments of life. I've always wanted things to be quick, action-packed, exciting, and overall fast. The speed of life during my American life has never slowed down. Until now.
I've now spent 2 months living the slow life.
These days, even instant gratification takes too long.
I recently watched a TED talk by Carl Honore called "In Praise of Slowness" that told a story of how the speaker was battling with his young son over how long their bed time stories were taking. The father was intentionally skipping over things while the son wanted him to savor every word. One day, the father realized he had been pursuing a 1-minute bedtime story that taught him how they couldn't live a good life together, only a fast one. After listening to this story and the rest of what Carl had to say, I realized that the speed in my life has allowed me to escape from things that I didn't want to face. When I always had something to do, I didn't have time to think about my low self-esteem, immaturity, and other unhealthy personal qualities, politics and the recent terrorism happening nearly everywhere, and the systematic racism being revealed in my world. The discomforts of life were being shielded by the sheer amount of stuff I had packed into every moment of the day. Not only that, but I didn't want to be seen as someone who was "slow" because in our culture, it's a synonym for "dumb," or in my head, "failure."
Having gone two months being forced into slowness, I've had to come to terms with being slow and not feeling like a failure. I've had to embrace my inner tortoise.
This time has been a blue n' white upside-down corkscrew jet-powered roller-coaster of emotions. Frankly, that might just be because I've simply never taken the time to iron myself out. That being said, I have felt so gobsmackin' creative during the moments when I've consciously chosen to sit and think or truly relax, rather than distract myself with media. I've been writing a lot more than I ever have, and this perspective shift is starting to really change the way I treat myself. I feel happier when I give myself time to be and remind myself that I need to be in this place. I feel more ready to do something about the horrible things in this world.
All this is said in praise of slowness. Shouldn't we all take time, stretch it out, and not worry about getting as much done as possible? I think so. I think it would help us to become better people and to make our world a better place.
Granted, I fail at this all the time, and I spend oodles of noodles feeling like I'm on fire and/or in the lava pits of Mordor. But still. Now that I've done this, I can feel my life starting to take shape.
That being said, that's all that I have, and it's time for this blog to end. Tune in next week (WHICH IS ALSO NEXT YEAR) for the announcement of the START of several projects that have slowly fallen into my lap and have conceded the transformation of my own artistic life from student to professional.
LOVE YOU, K? BYE.
Leave a comment telling me about your relationship with slowness!
Do you consider yourself slow? Fast? Balanced? How do you do it!?
Can the tortoise really win a race against the hare?
Why does our society compare speed to intelligence?