Well, let's see if going to the office is easier today. There were some issues this week which I was able to quickly address. Making points in the day job, without having to fatigue myself again. The last eight and a half months took a toll on me, physically and emotionally. I'm back to getting by on eight hours or a little less sleep. Getting up before my alarm, even if I have a few drinks.
Stress. I was dealing with it, but the extra effort and rest needed to deal effectively left me without much life outside the studio and cubicle. Okay, I don't' really have a cubicle, but I share an office. My officemate is a nearly amiable, and supercilious grump. I relate to that well. I was insufferably supercilious for a long time because I was intellectually gifted as a kid. The Navy was the first to really put me in my place, and it has continued since. Hard work is more important than the arrogance of gifts. Jocks tend to be buttheads whether they are athletic physically or mentally. Well, after that I was growing into a grump. Sometimes it is hard to dislike someone you relate to on a personal level. I don't much care who thinks I'm smart anymore, nor when people mistakenly think they're smarter than I. (Looking the big dumb farm boy has paid off a number of times.) Even though I'm certain my officemate dislikes me, I still like him.
Back to stress. With fewer things going on sleep is more normal, along with everything else. Though I knew things would readjust, I'd still gotten accustomed to all the little discomforts which plagued me. Slower healing, rashes, flushing blood, overly frequent little colds, not dreaming (or at least not remembering any dreams), back and stomach aches, etc. All the things I've experienced over the years visiting at the same time; a reunion with only your unwanted relatives.
Thursday we had our conferences for last semester/quarter. Each of us in turn faced a panel consisting of John, Kate W, George, Robin, Jack, Hal, and a letter from Kate G. I joked about the conference earlier, calling it the gauntlet. I had mixed feelings about the conferences first term. All we talked about was what I thought I needed to work on in response to the opening question for me, which was both affirming since it validated my internal appraisal and frustrating because it didn't provide additional illumination. This time there was a lot of positive feedback. A lot. Last term most of us did not get any positive notes. Also more variety in what we talked about. The meeting was taped so they could write it up and give it to us, freeing us from taking notes.
Like last term, we started off with an opening question for me, and I brought up the item we talked about first term, my tendency to make myself smaller, with Geof's description of 'diminishing' myself resonating the most. It's been on my mind since, and still needs work, though I felt I'd made a lot of progress. That judgment was affirmed.
Once again as in so many classes and productions, my stage presence was discussed. The difference is this time the topic was built upon. It was harder than the constructive criticism. Being told you have a commanding presence and bring a strong raw power and an incredibly compelling connection to characters is intimidating -- it is expected you should always have it. There was no need for them to talk about how I need to trust these assets, use and exercise them consistently. I was already feeling choked up and yearning for that as they talked of it.
I realized one of the things I do. I accept these assessments and set them on a comfortable shelf. Just another manifestation of the difficulty accepting compliments. It is profoundly stupid, as I need to be more than simply aware of what the compliments are about. I need to grab onto that presence and connection for my work. Screw hesitation. Stop indulging in bemusement that I actually have a gift or two. Stop diminishing...
I have things twisted around. These gifts are not things to work towards. They are already there, if I can allow it. There are plenty of other things to work towards. There is an embracing and accepting which I need to open up myself for. I can and should always work on presence and connection, but they are not the goal. They are tools. Duh. Sounds simple. I bet this realization is another small, but critical step I need to make. I must make realization into actualization, or it is useless.
I got a number of other nice comments. One in particular surprised me. My willingness to go new places, take risks, to step right off the edge. I work on that all the time. Constantly reminding myself anybody can do it, as Yoda said, "Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try." I need to keep that same striving available for the things which seem to come more naturally. It could be the beginning of actualization.
Another comment I received several times, an adjunct to the above, was my ability to do most anything that was asked. My challenge was bringing them all to the plate at once. I felt my frustration in not being able to do just that, especially in our last recital. I've seen and admired the gifts the other actors in the ensemble have. The thought is only occurring now that I may be as gifted, with my unique set of gifts and struggles. Have, do, they struggle as much to acknowledge and accept their strengths? Can sincere embracing of perceived gifts, and using them as a foundation help assimilate training and experience? Specifically will it help me move faster in applying and growing as an artist from the ETI experience?
Yup, I have a long ways to go. When that thought hits me hard, I need to think back several years. I could not even imagine being on stage. Being a professional artist of any type was not even in my awareness. It gives perspective to the adage, "The more I learn, the less I know." I know I can start bringing these different skills and techniques together. Not as fast as I'd like, but in all probability much faster than I give myself credit for. All I have to do is keep scaring myself.
At the end of the conference, all this and more was swirling in my head. Since that was the end of our day I headed out early for my chiropractor. Traffic of course got bad early, and I listened to the The Blair Bush Project news conference. Those two smug war criminals sure talk pretty. After years of constant and egregious lies I don't see how anyone can trust, believe, or even respect one single word coming from their foul mouths. Needless to say, by the time I got to the chiropractor I was feeling tense from all the different stresses. We worked through it pretty quickly, and got into some good work. This naturopathic practice meshes so well with my training -- promoting the same physical self awareness we use in finding characters and warming up -- to help the body resolve it's own issues. The overall stress level being so much lower now that I'm only working one full time commitment makes a huge difference.