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Posts Tagged ‘Fear’

An Actor Ponders

February 5, 2014 3 comments
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Whatcha thinking?”

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And now, a look behind Andrew’s furrowed brow.

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Why am I still looking at job postings? Why do I still have an active RSS feed section devoted to new possible job opportunities, combing and scanning through craigslist, Alliance for Arts, and others, for me to glance through every few days?

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I worked for eleven different employers last year. I am currently on the payroll for four organizations, with two others occasionally bringing me in every other month or so.

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Oh, and these are the non-theatre-companies. Those are separate. Workshopping a play with one right now, and performing with another company for the next two months.

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That’s right! I’m finally finding work as an actor! Fantastic! For two months. Then I’m back. Time to look for another job.

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Why? Don’t you have enough?

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But there are more opportunities out there! Ones you don’t know of, if you aren’t looking!

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An actor always looks for auditions. Always hunts for opportunities. Never ending. Heading to auditions while rehearsing for something else. Endless job interviews. Endless rejections and successes.

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I’ve been trained this way.

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I’ve been trained to approach my work-for-hire life this way.

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I don’t have enough time now to offer my employers.

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I’m spending too much time at work. I could take more time off.

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I could miss out on more opportunities.

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Maybe I should check my RSS feeds one more time.

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Oh. Right. I’m doing Fringe Festivals this summer. Who’s going to hire a guy who disappears for several weeks at a time, over and over again?

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Right. My lovely, current employers. Who I enjoy working for! Not as much as I enjoy working on shows and being a theatre creator and performer, of course. But I appreciate and enjoy them.

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But I could appreciate and enjoy something else!

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Or maybe I should be dropping everything for a few months and see if this whole ‘actor and writer’ career thing can sustain itself!

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That seems somewhat foolish and unnecessary. And maybe I’ll find out I don’t enjoy living only that way, very much! That could shatter me. A lot of sunken cost time into this theatre acting thing. Or maybe I’d get lazy. If I give myself too much free time, maybe I’d just squander it by hiding in books and games. Besides, my employers are happy to trade me 80$ for my day. I can’t turn that down!

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Well, I could, I suppose. Technically.

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And I guess I have! Sorta. For this and the next two months, living the life of the working actor.

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This’ll be a grand experiment. I’m thrilled. I’m just so thrilled. Really. I am. Just peached to the extreme. Don’t lose that, Andrew! That excitement! Those butterflies! Hee!

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And then it’s done, and I’m back to the dayjobs until Fringe festivals. Where I’ll likely lose money again, when considering travel costs.

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I should check those job postings. Or accept more shifts in the couple days I have off before the theatre contract.

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No! I’m not superhuman… I need some time to recharge. Groceries, laundry, as well, I suppose.

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No, Andrew, people aren’t going to laden you down unreasonably. They expect you to need some time to yourself each day. Most people only work five shifts a week.

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But I could pick up shifts on those other weeks? Or find someone willing to pay me to do something new!

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I should check those feeds again. After all, as a pay-for-hire, I’m really contracting out my time to organizations. Makes sense to continually look for new clients, right? Diversification. Allows me to stick with my favourites and perhaps others fall to the wayside. Or find you unreliable because you’re never free and always gallivanting off to to theatre stuff.

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Theatre stuff! I get to do theatre stuff this year! Yay! And maybe next year?

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I don’t think I can take on any more than I’m doing.

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But maybe there’s something better out there!

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But I can’t get trapped in single full-time job life! Right? Right? That’s where people stop pursuing crazy things like acting, isn’t it? Where people get complacent?

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I think I’m afraid of becoming complacent.

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Or is that contentment? Is that what those people have?

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I feel like I’m planning my life so that whenever I want to, I can leave everything and go pursue something else. Keeping one foot out the door. Or at least, holding the door open. Like an actor does, always on the hunt for the next opportunity.

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Do I have a problem, or am I doing this right?

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Oy.

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Why I Trust Strangers (and hope you do too!)

March 9, 2012 3 comments

A Matter of Trust

Image via Wikipedia

 

I can honestly say that I spent much of my time at elementary school as a miserable coward. As I wandered alone, step by step, along the concrete dividers outside my school each recess and lunch, my mind raced with intimidating scenarios.

What if that boy decided to fight me? What if they swarmed me with insults and pushed me? What if they approached me, cracking their knuckles? What could I do?

I was constantly figuring out escape routes, deciding whether or not I could outrun them, or reach that teacher in time, or the classroom, or safety, somewhere, anywhere.

(It’s worth noting that I was never punched once. Did get shoved into a bush. Was bit once. But that one was my fault.)

If I was walking on my own, dark, light, day, night, whatever, I would imagine muggers emerging from every shadow, and I would continually run scenarios over and over in my head. That’s one reason why I bought an mp3 player: So I could have something else in my head as I went from point A to point B other than running through what would happen, were I attacked.

In every scenario I ran through, I either ran away… or more rarely imagined myself getting the piss beaten out of me.

Eventually, I came to realize that this wasn’t healthy. Certainly not a useful use of my time. But I that realization alone didn’t cut it out entirely. No. I thought the healthiest thing was to make sure that when I envisioned these… ruminations… that I would imagine myself ‘winning’ the encounter. With tact and compassion, I would employ myself like a master hostage negotiator and defuse the situation (okay, or sometimes with physical intimidation, grabbing the right weapon around me). Then they would give in, reform, and become a better person.

Seriously.

My poor baby.

But that wasn’t healthy either. And whenever someone stole something from me, or I lost something (which amounted to the same thing in my mind), I became angry. Spiteful. The loss of my poor M:TG Lightning Dragon really ate me up.

Then, BOOM! Moment of clarity. Shining, shimmering splendid! I realized how I could solve both of these problems – my constant scenario-making, and my anger. I had a choice to make.

I chose to trust strangers. And everyone else. To assume that they were good people. To assume that the man in the shadows would have a kind heart. To assume that no one would have stolen my hat – I must have left it somewhere, or someone must have taken it by mistake. An honest error, t’is all. Well, that’s alright. They can have it.

And if it really was stolen? They must need it more than I do.

This past December, I got in trouble with a lady’s parents when, at the end of a dinner spent at their place, I asked if she could show me the way to the bus stop. Because I didn’t know where it was, and needed to get home. (That, and having a minute alone with her would have been nice.)

Well, apparently that doomed me to their bad books for life, because once I got on that bus, she had half a block to walk back to her place. At night. In a suburban area. Horrors upon horrors.

And yes, being a man, the potential dangers are different for me. But living to the point of being afraid of walking half a block away from one’s home… I am so glad I don’t live like that anymore. So glad that I can enjoy the solitude of a good walk, or be happy to see an unknown face on the street.

The world is safer, less violent, more peaceful, than it has ever been. I will admit, however, that the dangers and evil deeds of the world are better reported than ever before. So I don’t watch the news, other than a feed on politics, science and technology. There’s always hope on those fronts. (Yes, even in politics. From time to time.)

Once I chose to trust in strangers, I stopped worrying about mythical muggers and became a much happier man, and that trust has been repaid countless times, over and over again. I highly recommend it.

Lightning Dragon (Photo credit: Jon_Tucker)

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

What are you afraid of?

November 7, 2010 2 comments

 

 

Question mark
Image via Wikipedia

I’m a big fan of discovery-driven essays – a free-form flow of thoughts and ideas, a winding – but driven – stream of thought, trickling at first, then pushing through the rapids, only to find a great body of water at the end. Or sometimes, the river dries up, or pours forth into a bog.

I’m not sure what the bog would represent. I do so love my imagery.

Anyway, this is one of those, and it was spurred on by a simple question: “What are your phobias or peeves?”

This question came to me as I was staffing the Peer Helping office in the learning commons of the library. The asker was an international student who needed to get responses for an English language assignment. And after attempting to explain that fears and annoyances very different ideas, I tried to tackle the main question.

And I came up blank. At first.

I sat there, going, “Well, I… Hmm… Huh…”, making for a very poor language-based conversation. This prompted my interviewer to try to help me out.

“Ghosts?”

“No, not really. It’s more… uh… well…”

“Ghosts? Ghosts?”

I wasn’t making this easy on her. I couldn’t think of the easy answers. I’m not afraid of creepy crawlies or snakes – I used to pick giant millipedes out of cages and put them on children’s arms at the Telus World of Science. I’m not afraid of public speaking  (clearly), and I haven’t really grappled enough with death at all to be calm or afraid about it. Heights. Heights? Well, not really. I’m fine with a tall height so long as I’m secure – so long as there’s a guardrail, a pane of glass, some layer of protection. If there isn’t though…

La Question

Image via Wikipedia

So I tried to explain to a novice English speaker what vertigo meant. This involved a perhaps too lengthy visual elaboration of me finger-walking to the edge of the table, looking down, and having my hand gyrate (as if dizzy), then fall to its untimely demise. She didn’t understand the word dizzy, so I put my hands to my temples and swam my head around like a dancing drunk. The demonstration was perhaps less than effective communication.

I tried again. I thought about feverish nightmares from years and years ago – of blowing the big hockey game and letting everyone down, of a brick locker-room building o

ozing with acrid yellow-orange slime. But they weren’t as immediate as the fear I spoke without even thinking about it:

I’m afraid people will think I’m a bad person.

Hunh.

People are driven by their hopes and their fears, and right when I thought I had confronted and extinguished many of my own phobias, something like that shows up. Though it has always been there; I just haven’t framed it as being a fear before.

It’s not the same as I want to be a good person, because I’m afraid people will think I’m a bad person is all about other people’s impressions – it’s an external appearance. It’s what made me feel so precarious and uneasy after the kissing-the-drunk-girl-at-the-party incident. It’s what often holds me back (more-so in previous years) from complimenting women on how they look on a given day – don’t want to be seen as a sleaze. It contributes to being less of a risk-taker than I’d like, of leaning toward my Woody Allen character and away from Adventure Man.

Woody Allen

Cover of Woody Allen

If people see me as a bad person, as someone less than moral, they’re less likely to talk to me when they need someone to listen to them. They’re less likely to trust me, to want to work with me. And heck, I’m a representative for Christianity in a city that is apparently one of the least religious places in North America.

Fears aren’t meant to be rational. I know I’m a decent individual who still has a long way to grow and improve, but who wants to become better. Who wants to love more deeply and broadly. And I’m happy to have a conscience, that little feeling warning me if what I’m doing feels… like I’m stepping onto the wrong path. And I’m grateful to be involved in theatre, where I can explore those wrong paths and learn about them, in character, in safe and interesting ways, without needing to live them in my own life.

But it’s true, as much as I also worry that I am too bland or timid or plaid or what-have-you, I do worry that people will think I’m a bad person. This isn’t vanity, I don’ t think… it feels more like a desire to communicate myself as accurately as I can. I don’t think I’m a bad person. Most of the time. Do I screw up sometimes? Yes. Have I hurt people? Of course. There are ongoing situations right now that I’m concerned I am being a negative party to.

(‘Being a negative party to.’ Wow. Come, join me in the bushes as we watch the Spotted Andrew resort to legalize in his attempts to avoid his predators.)

Discovery essays are also prone to tangents.

Anyway, I don’t have a great resolving statement for you; it’s something I’m working through. But I can see where this phobia – heck, I’ll call it a peeve as well – can steer me away from where I want to go. So it’s worth keeping an eye on.

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After I answered her question, the international student surprised me with beautiful, eloquent English:

“I don’t think you’re a bad person at all.”

I don’t know why I felt so relieved to hear that.

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