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Posts Tagged ‘personal development’

High Fidelity

So,

I just finished reading High Fidelity, the book (obviously) – read the last close-to-two-hundred pages in a single go. That’s one thing I’ve really enjoyed about taking this contract – I’ve become a reading person again, and that’s one thing I’ve really missed from childhood – being the kind of person who can just sit and read a book, submerged between its pages, for hours on end, because I need to find out how it goes, because I’ve emotionally and intellectually connected to it.

I’m also a bit of an empathic person in that I tend to adopt the voice of what I’m reading or watching for a little while. Which is why I’m writing this out now, and probably why I don’t watch scary slasher flicks. (Also, I just typed the word ‘flick’, which is British, so apparently High Fidelity has turned me slightly British.)

So it’s sort of a book about a jerk. I don’t entirely relate to that (and please don’t argue the opposite). I’ve been real stupid in life, but rarely with a vindictive sense of malice to it. Not since grade school, anyway, when I would plot to fill peoples’ desks with dirt because I thought they were mean to me. Nah, most of the time, if I’m thinking someone deserves negative stuff in their life, that person is me. But I’ve an affirmational poster on my wall (yes, I’m that guy) that says ‘I am a Good Man‘ (sharpie underlined), and I believe it, most of the time. My friend Jacqui added a ‘And we ❤ you!’ to it that I quite appreciate.

What the book is more about, though, is the triumvirate of the excitement of new relationships, dealing with break-ups, and figuring out what to do in the middle of a relationship. It’s about how much mental space and energy and OHMYGOD these things take up inside a person’s soul. It ends with pretty much an ode to marriage and commitment, because, heck, all of the above just take so much EFFORT, going through those first few steps of a relationship over and over and over again, and long term relationships take effort too, but it’s a different kind of effort; it isn’t the same, stuck kind of effort repeating itself over and over again.

My week has been emotionally a bit rough, probably in part due to this book. It’s all about fixating on past relationships, and, well, it’s not hard to see why that is an issue if you’ve read the second paragraph up there about empathy. And I don’t know if people with regular nine-to-five, five-days-a-week office dayjobs feel like every day is the same, but performing a show is quite LITERALLY SAYING THE EXACT SAME WORDS AND REPEATING THE EXACT SAME ACTIONS EVERY DAY.

(I actually love it, and every audience has a slightly different vibe, and let’s be honest, I usually slightly fumble a couple of dance moves or reverse a line or sing a verse with a slightly different intent, so it’s never exactly the same, but the metaphor is too precise to ignore, so stick with me.)

ANYWAY, as I was saying, I needed to get to the end of the book, so I read it with an intensity – I was trying to divine some sort of wisdom from these pages to help me out, or at least to feel a sense of closure – moreso than I feel from my own life right now. I don’t want to be Rob (the main character) from the beginning of the book. (sidenote: No one should want to be the person at the beginning of the book – they’re the person who hasn’t yet learned what they need to learn to be a better person.) He’s a mid-thirties man who still acts like a teenager because his life got stuck somewhere along the way, and he blames everyone else for it happening. And I, by contrast, am an early-thirties man who is excited to read a book from cover to cover because the very act of doing so makes him feel like a pre-teen, who isn’t sure if this theatre tour he’s on is a life derailment, a career advancement, or a period of being stuck in relational limbo. Probably all three. And I mostly blame myself for how my life is. But I could be more of Rob at the end of the book. Sure, it’s a bit of a cop-out that someone else fixes most of his exterior life, but inside himself, he makes some realizations and he feels the heartdeep of what makes commitment and long-term relationships so meaningful.

Let’s be honest. I’m a 32-year-old man who had only been in a relationship with someone for longer than nine months before my last one, once, and even with the age difference, that really probably was my first time with that heartdeep, that continuity of companionship and all that comes with it, and now you’re feeling awkward reading this because these are the kinds of thing that twenty-year-old men accidentally blubber about when they’ve had too much to drink, or the kinds of things said by pathetic old men still pining over old flames, or maybe those are both images I’m projecting over myself, but I’m going to say the obvious anyway, which is that I want that heartdeep again.

I’m also probably not emotionally prepared to have it again – not that that stops some people – and anyway, I’m on tour now, hopping from Calgary to the Cayman Islands (to visit a happy, committed couple with a kid) to Edmonton and then maybe to Winnipeg and I have NEVER been good at long term planning, always been the person to embrace the ephemerality of life and that’s what I’m living in for the next three to six months whether I want to or not, and I’m going to do my darndest to enjoy it, goshdarnit, to find ways to make peoples’ lives exciting due to my being temporarily, ephemerally in them, as I continue to crawl back percentage points of my heart (yes I think of it in percentages – it’s not a null sum game – the heart can grow! – but percentages all the same), but when I finish leading this webisode, short-story, elseworlds edition comic book time in my life, and have more of my heartdeep to offer, I’d like to find a deep, long novel with someone to live in.

Anyway, this has been my book report on High Fidelity. Cheers.

 

Every Two Weeks.


The Most Honest Man In The World - option 2b - Copy

Every Two Weeks.

 

Partly, I use the fringe circuit as a way to live different lives.

 

To test out different parallel universe Andrews, if you will.


 

For most of the year, there is a routine. Living in the suburb I grew up in. I have my day jobs. The occasional play. Family members to visit, old friends to chat with. My solitary home to go back to, maybe watch a show on my computer. Most of the year is caked, coated, overgrown with my personal history. That isn’t a bad thing, per say. It’s what I have made of my life.

 

But then there’s Fringe. Every two weeks, a new location, a new living situation, a new family, if you will. From seeing what life would be like were I the child of a retired military family who dine on exotic meats and wine in Regina, to sharing a living space with a nineteen-year-old drag queen in Toronto. And I get to be different, too. I have never been a bar hopper, but what the hey, why not head to the beer tents every night this time? Or use this free time to become a bookworm for a few days. Or struggle dearly to be a streetside salesman, pitching my fringey wares. To be the kind of fellow who has a one night stand, or the kind of person who shares in a week-long relationship, seeing a person you care for every single day.

 

Those aren’t the Andrews I am back in Richmond. I’m not that guy. But on the road, I am. And I am. And I am.

 

I dubbed this season, ‘the summer Andrew sorts out his stuff’. With a hashtag. And it’s not just the shows I’m performing. In The Most Honest Man In The World, I really am onstage trying to sort through the neuroses I held four years ago about relationships. Every performance, I want that epiphany, that moment, that ‘aha’ that spurs me forward in my personal growth. The show doesn’t work unless it’s equal parts hope and regret.

 

As The Most Honest Man In The World, I have to face the truth. Who am I? Well, when it comes to relationships, in Richmond, I am a 28 year old man who lives alone with a minifridge and a single bed who doesn’t know how to offer up enough of his life to make a relationship work. He knows what he knows and he is who he is. That man, The Most Honest Man In The World from the play, me at 24, I’m still mostly him. Less neurotic, less nervous, far more centred, but still mostly him. I’m just used to how I life my life.

 

But this summer, each summer, every two weeks, I get a glimpse of what it would be like if I lived differently. If I were someone else. Or someone else. Or someone else. Or someone else. Every ‘else’ as someone almost me, but in different circumstances, a different city, with different people.

 

Adulthood is partly the realization that you don’t get to be someone ‘when you grow up’. You are what you choose to focus on. In Richmond, there is an inertia to where I devote my focus. But on the road, with Fringe festivals and non-fringe stops inbetween, every two weeks I get to adopt a new and different focus. And a new and different focus. And a new and different focus. What would it be like if I DID devote more attention to this, or that, or this, or that? From Toronto to Ann Arbor to Saskatoon to Nanaimo to Victoria to Vancouver, with everything I own – the artifacts that describe who I am – packed up into boxes, crates, bags, and a lone travelling suitcase.

 

I don’t know which me is going to come home in the end. But I hope that he’s…

 

 

 

I don’t know. I don’t know what I hope for.

 

I hope that he learns how to focus.

 

How to focus better on what’s important in life.

 

Once he figures out what actually is important in life. For him. For me. Once I do. If I do.

Or I don’t.

 

 

There is so much left in this summer.

 

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Saskatoon Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1102726283074871/

Nanaimo Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1597063170563617/

Victoria Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1193881917293983/

Vancouver Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1633245323584144/

 

#TheSummerAndrewFiguresOutHisStuff

Thank you for the tea parties.

September 13, 2014 Leave a comment

       
A few years ago, I had a crazy idea. I had cloistered myself up in British Columbia, hid away in school for twenty straight years, I was anxious and worried that I wouldn’t get the chances to perform in the real world, once I graduated… so I made a plan. A crazy plan. I decided to write myself a one man show and take it across the country.
       
Andrew Wade 011bI had no idea if I could hold anyone’s attention for an hour. I had no idea if I could write a show that’d work. I threw every theatrical idea into the show, creating a mad, patchwork quilt of ideas, and then threw most of them out. I mostly improvised a run at Vancouver Fringe in 2011. I rewrote the darn thing from the ground up. And then I took a deep breath, spent thousands of dollars, and took my little hat and kettle show on the road. First year, I went to London, Ottawa, Toronto, and Saskatoon, spent over two months away from where I lived – the longest I had ever been on the road.
       
I got stuck backstage and had to pee in a water bottle a couple of minutes before my first performance. I sold exactly zero tickets to three of my first four performances. I was on greyhound buses for forty-three straight hours. I lost money. And it was worth it.
       
The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ONI also met with mentors and brilliant performers who just wanted to help me along my journey. I made friends, colleagues, and talent crushes. I was introduced to the ridiculous art of attempting to smuggle women into your billet’s place without them noticing. I discovered from my billets just how charitable people can be and how awesome retirement is for a lot of people. I traveled the country, flew for only the third time in ten years. I made a man in Saskatoon give me a great big hug, break down, and cry, then loudly whoop at everyone on the street to come see my show.
       
And then, this summer, I brought The Hatter home. ‘Previewed’ it in Port Alberni to an empty town full of good intentions, brought it to Regina and was fed fancy meats while swatting mosquitoes and having a grand ol’ time. Then came the real homecoming tour.
       
Next, I went to Saskatoon, which had welcomed me so warmly, it felt like home. There’s a reason I was able to perform the most personal work I’ve ever written, there: a new show, The Most Honest Man In The World. Me being me. And most people still called me The Hatter, anyhow.
       
Then came Victoria. The big gulp of nervous air, a city of people I had treasured for seven years, then skipped out on when my degree was up. Spent a quarter of my life there. Felt like I was awaiting their judgment, wanting the city, old friends, ex-girlfriends, to tell me I had made the right call, that I’d made something of myself, out there in that bigger ol’ world. And the people who matter, they gave me just that. And oddly, most reassuringly of all, Victoria, well, it didn’t feel like home anymore. The Hatter is a play about searching for home. In its first draft, it was muchly a play of regretting leaving someplace, some people, somewhere. Now, it’s not that.
       
Now, The Hatter is about moving on.
       
And here we are in Vancouver, at home, and The Hatter is about to hang up his hat. No future plans for him. Nothing set. Just one more celebration, tonight at 8:15pm.
       
Thank you for the tea parties.
       
       
The Hat

Fringe By The Numbers: My Reactions

September 7, 2013 7 comments
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My last post, A First Fringe Tour: By The Numbers, already has the second most hits of anything I’ve posted onto my blog. Thank you everyone for your responses and for sharing it around. Here are my own thoughts:

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Yes, I lost money. A fair chunk of change. 1,671.16$ , to be precise. But I’ve been spending money on learning experiences for a number of years now, beginning with seven years of university, followed by the National Voice Intensive last year, and now, this tour. Was I hoping to at least break even? Of course! But to take a wider view, I traveled to amazing cities I’d never visited, had grand adventures, even kissed a lady or two, and got to tell a story worth telling to hundreds of people (okay, 534 people + ushers + technicians) across the country.

For my own personal growth, I desperately needed to travel. It was all 100% worth it. Over the course of two and a half short months, I learned a heck of a lot about theatre, life, and myself, and I can’t wait to get back out there next summer (if the Fringe lotteries are willing to let me).

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The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ON* * * * *

As a former professor once told me as he suffered through the first couple of years of his own theatre company, it’s not at all uncommon for businesses to lose money for their first two or three years of operation. This was my first ever tour. Hopefully now I have a tiny base of fans in each city, who might possibly come out and see a show of mine in the future!

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In each city, to keep this numerical, I think I knew 1 (London), 3 (Ottawa), many (Toronto), and 1 (Saskatoon) people, respectively. No hometown advantage for me.

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Hey Fringe Festival volunteers! You know how you happily exclaim to audience line-ups about how lovely it is that you haven’t raised your ticket price from 10$ for the past fifteen years or so? Well, inflation exists, and what you’re telling artists is that they’ve been earning less and less per ticket for every year for the past decade and a half.

I did not once hear a single complaint on the street or in the theatre about Saskatoon’s 12$/14$ ticket prices. Just sayin’.

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Also, it’s interesting that even with a 2$ administrative fee and GST being factored in somewhere, I still came out earning 11.20$ per ticket in Saskatoon, compared to 9.94$ in London, 9.35$ in Ottawa, and a mere 8.92$ per ticket in Toronto.

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Speaking of which, that shortfall in Toronto exists almost entirely due to the five-pack and ten-pack deals in that city. While I love having frequent fringer packs exist, compare Toronto’s 7.5$ tickets to Vancouver’s frequent fringer packs, which still offer 9$ per ticket to the performer. Seriously consider raising those frequent fringer rates, Toronto. You certainly have a reputation as being a place where performers don’t make any money. I enjoyed my time in the city, but 7.5$ tickets are hurting your reputation and hurting a performer’s chances of being able to break even in your city.

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* * * * *Hatter Poster - Toronto - for printer 2

Every city is so different when trying to figure out the right number of flyers and posters. Before I set out, I pre-printed 25 posters and 500 business card flyers for each city. Rookie mistake, as I learned when I saw other performers in London editing their poster files for upcoming cities so as to include London review quotes. Come Saskatoon I finally began taping quotes onto my posters, but printing posters for each upcoming city as I go seems to be the smarter solution.

So what are the right numbers? Well, 25 posters and 500 business cards felt alright for a sleepy Fringe like London, but I could probably have put up 75 posters in Ottawa, whereas getting 25 posters up in Toronto in anywhere worth looking, proved difficult. Also in Toronto, I ran out of flyers before the fringe was half over – I could probably have handed out 1500. As an experiment, I brought 1000 flyers to Saskatoon, and despite the Fringe’s smaller size, still gave out most of them. So every city is different, and I’ve still more to learn! (It also makes a difference as to how many people you have out there, flyering – being on my lonesome can be a downside when it comes to talking up enough lines to find an audience.)

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I gotta admit, it was disappointing to be one of 36 shows in Toronto not reviewed by Now Magazine. A few ‘N’s might have helped! (For a few more numbers, there were 148 shows in the Toronto Fringe Festival this year. 112 of them received a Now Magazine blurb and set (or lack thereof) of shiny ‘N’s.)

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In London, I recall one performer saying that two or three days before the festival opened, they visited Tourism London to ask for Fringe information, and the person there had no idea the festival was even happening. At Nuit Blanche, I (in full Hatter garb) was asked by several people when the Fringe Festival was beginning. That was the second-to-last night of the festival. It seems London is a hard place to get word out about the festival, which was evidenced by my having zero advance ticket sales, compared to 9 in Ottawa, 23 in Toronto, and 15 in Saskatoon. Toronto is very much more of an advance ticket city than the others – perhaps there’s more of a traditional theatre-going habit there? Or is there less financial disincentive to buy advance tickets in Toronto (when compared to additional fees other festivals add onto advance ticket purchases)?

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The Hat* * * * *

I’m honestly impressed with myself that I was able to keep my grocery bills down to size, even while on tour. Chalk it up to a combination of kind billets, hunts for grocery stores, and restraint whenever out and about with fellow performers. You guys feel free to order your meals at the bar; I’ll just wait until I get back to the food I bought with my big grocery trips on the day before each festival began.

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I didn’t have nearly as strong a show at the beginning of June as I did come mid-August. To be honest, it took me until Toronto to figure out the core of what the show was about – a man trying to get home – and so my show pitches for line-ups weren’t great for the first 2/3rds of my tour. Please don’t take any of the above as me making excuses for perhaps not being as financially successful as I would have preferred: I fully accept my tour as it was.

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Which is to say, a brilliant, daring adventure. 🙂

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For another view into my time on the fringe, as well as my original By The Numbers post, I also put up a By The Emotions post which you might enjoy.

As with before, if you think any of this may be helpful to someone out there, please share it on! I hope these posts are worthwhile for someone else out there. And if you have any reactions of your own, please add them to the comments below!

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Happy Fringing!

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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Chirp – My Memorial

April 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Two years ago, spurred on by the pug-loving obsession of my then-girlfriend, I asked God to help me learn to care about animals.

Last night, my family’s lovebird, Chirp, died. He was seventeen and a half.

I have never been a big ‘animal’ person. It’s not a fear – despite four years as a paperboy – and it’s not a dislike, just more of an apathy. The only pet my family ever had growing up was this lovebird, who I tended to describe as being ‘like a budgie, only it chirps a third as much and three times as loud.’ The bird who was the bane of my existence whenever I was attempting to work on a writing assignment and had to deal with the focus-destroying shrills of this oblivious, tiny trumpeter.

(I am aware that a trumpeter is also another kind of bird. Where I grew up, all the streets were named after birds.)

From a grade 11 photography project back in 2003.

From a grade 11 photography project, back in 2003.

I was always the one to not-so-jokingly suggest letting the bird go free to fly about and inevitably get eaten by a nearby cat or raccoon. The usefulness of this bird escaped me. Heck, you couldn’t even hold the darn thing or have it perch on your finger unless you were VERY careful and a little lucky, or didn’t mind painful bites from a needlesharp beak. And the bird loved perching up on people’s shoulders… and then attacking their glasses. I was always afraid he would go after the mole on the back of my neck.

When cleaning his cage, I would need to distract him to go elsewhere so I could reach inside the cage without him attacking.

I don’t believe in the idea that he is now off in some heavenly jungle, flitting free. Chirp was a bird. A long-living bird, yes, but still just a bird.

He was a beautiful bird, though.

When I moved away from home nine years ago, I cherished the relative quiet and distraction-free atmosphere of the university dorms, compared to my tiny family home with nocturnal parents, a shared bedroom, and the supersonic bird.

Yesterday evening, when I was visiting at the family house, Chirp pooped on my brother’s arm, and he asked me to take the bird while he cleaned it up. Now, for the past few months at least, Chirp has been getting calmer. Rather than tearing paper bags to pieces the instant they touch the bottom of his cage, he has been curling up in them to sleep. And he has become a nuzzling, warmth-seeking creature. Despite this, yesterday evening was the first time I had held the bird in months and months, perhaps even years. And he curled right up into warmth of my hands, the softest little creature on earth.

I was the one to put him back in his cage. I was probably the last person to hold him before he died.

I just realized I have just switched to using gendered pronouns for Chirp, rather than just saying ‘the bird’.

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I’m not sure where I’m going with this. But I suppose that’s sort of the point.

My Definition of Self-Respect

December 5, 2012 Leave a comment
BeardedAndrew

In Flora, I looked like Lenin.

 

Two days ago I shaved off my facial hair. It’s amazing what seeing a different face in the mirror can do.

A couple of weeks ago, I was telling someone my criteria for respect: I respect anyone who actively tries to better themselves. We talked about different ‘ages’ people go through, eras of the self, where we can say ‘I was different then’.

To some people, the idea of such eras is a terrifying thought, for who are we if we are not who we were? But I wear my ages as badges of pride, blazoned on me as reminders that perhaps, just possibly, I am making forward progress into becoming a better me, a quest which I know only ends with my death. Possibly.

But as we discussed, I could feel a weight of stagnation. Or worse. I looked at the now-me and who I was a couple of years ago, and saw a man whose greatest changes were semi-independence and a pool of guilt for a selfish act which I refuse to believe was wrong.

In grade five, in that church, I looked at myself and didn’t like what I saw. I decided on the kind of person I wanted to be, and made a firm commitment to continually change who I was into someone better. My definition of self-respect denies anything less.

This past while, I haven’t had any focus on the man I wanted to be. Or I’ve been too anxious to search him out. Or I have cast judgement and sentenced myself to floating in the pool, just deep and flat enough.

So I am making a concerted effort to discover who that next-me should be. What beliefs I need to discard, and which ones I need to build. What I need to do to improve. My definition of self-respect denies anything less.

My self-respect requires nothing less.

I haven’t been a baby-face in perhaps two years. And now, when I look at myself in the mirror, it doesn’t quite look like me. I am staring at someone slightly different. A new face.

Someone I might aspire to become.

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Babyface Andrew

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

A Request for Dreams

November 16, 2012 Leave a comment

I am good at taking advantage of opportunities.

Every day I go through a dozen craigslist RSS feeds and seek out new posts from currently 97 subscribed theatre website feeds, I check my email looking for audition listings, and I look for chances to connect to the theatre communities I want to engage with. I have attended AGMs for companies I have never worked with.

If a possibility presents itself in front of me, I am skilled at recognizing it, saying ‘yes’ (as we improvisers do), and going for it. I do what I can to ensure that those possibilities DO get to me (see: above paragraph). I have honed this radar to a decent level of precision. BUT…

(and there is always a BUT)

…But I have never been great at the bigger picture stuff. At the developing a dream and pursuing it relentlessly stuff. At the choosing a distant point and doing all in my power to reach it stuff. So I haven’t thrust myself into screen-acting. So I haven’t focused on a single career path. So I haven’t had many romantic relationships.

Even as a kid, I remember the questions of ‘who is your hero’ and ‘what is your dream’. I never had admired heroes who I aspired to become, and I never had an end goal for what I wanted to accomplish in life.

If a Fantastic flaps its wings right before my face, I will follow it to the moon. But I never look at the moon and decide, “I will go there”. I will follow and fly with the sylph, but I won’t laboriously build the rocket ship.

It’s a muscle I’m not toned at using, this business of ‘dreaming’. But I want to learn. I want to become better at it. So I am asking you, my friends, both ones I know and one I haven’t met, to help me in this. Show me the castles in the distance and lead me on the first few steps to get there. Ask me on that date and make me flutter at the idea of more. Show me glimpses of distant possibilities, and help me focus on more than what is merely at my fingertips.

Train me how to pursue dreams.

English: Cover of Summer 1952 issue of Fantast...

Thanks for reading,
Andrew Wade

Six Secular Reasons to Tithe

August 22, 2012 4 comments

Six Secular Reasons to Tithe

For me, tithing consists of setting aside 1/10th of what I earn, to be given away for the benefit of others. While I am a Christian, the benefits of accepting a tithing mindset and habit are huge for anyone – regardless of spirituality – who chooses to take on this challenge.

Note: My definition of tithing includes using this 10% of earnings for non-reciprocal gifts, donations to charities, help for friends and strangers in need… whatever you feel is appropriate, which may include giving to religious institutions, but doesn’t need to.

Hunky-dory? Great. Onto the reasons:

Tithe Tenth Mormon

(Credit: More Good Foundation)

(1) Good Deeds

Let’s get the obvious one off the bat. By giving money to worthy causes and actions, you help make the world a better place than it was yesterday, and that is huge. Whether you’re helping education and health by deworming the world (http://www.dewormtheworld.org/), giving to a local shelter, or encouraging mentorship (http://www.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca), you’re making an impact.

(2) Budgeting

While the actual 10% figure isn’t too important, taking on this challenge requires taking note of your income and figuring out just what it is you’re actually earning. Also, it’s unlikely you’ll give exactly 10% of what you’re earning each month, or some opportunities might come up that require you to give a little more, so some numbers may carry over into the next month. Spreadsheets may be scary to some, but I personally find it a lot of fun (yes, fun) seeing one adjustment affect my next year’s worth of numbers. A skill well worth learning in case the public school system didn’t help you in this regard.

"Have you seen this man? He is Ant Hill H...

(Credit: Wikipedia)

(3) A Way to Forgive Thieves

If you’re like me, there is nothing that gets in your craw, that rankles you, that makes you downright peeved and pissed off so much as having something be stolen. The worst part of it all is that feeling of powerlessness, which can often devolve into a fear for one’s own security. It’s not hard to go from having a possession be stolen to adopting a mindset of distrust toward anyone you don’t know (or perhaps even toward people you do know). Which, as I’ve discussed before, is not a good way to live. But with a set tithing plan in place, I’m able to stick a mental trick on myself and choose to let the object that was stolen instead be a gift. If they’re resorting to pilfery, they probably need it more than I.

With this method, I then take the replacement cost off my tithing amount, so I’m not even short any money in my budget. It still sucks to have stuff get stolen, but I am now able to consider it a gift, forgive, replace, and move on, without my finances taking a hit.

Cover of "Pay it Forward"

Cover of Pay it Forward

(4) Karma / Pay It Forward

Alright, perhaps not an entirely non-spiritual reason, but plenty of people believe in a worldview where doing a good deed will come back around in the end. I don’t necessarily believe this concept, but I have respect for people who do.

(5) Encourages a Positive Perception of Money

It’s too easy in our society to become obsessed with the goal of obtaining money for security, or even hoarding money for money’s sake. Intentionally giving away money each month instead reminds us that money is just a tool to help us pursue other goals – not a goal in and of itself. Doing so also reminds us of what we hold to be more important in life. Don’t get me wrong – money is a fantastic tool, but that’s all it is.

(6) Encourages a Generous Mindset
Giving encourages more giving – a positive reinforcement loop that creates more generous individuals. Before I started tithing, I would often spend time debating the pros and cons of any behaviour or action before (possibly) making a decision. Since I’ve begun tithing, however, I find I am far more likely to freely offer aid to someone in need, without hesitation. It’s a far more fulfilling way to live.

I also find I am far more willing to accept and ask for aid from others, now that I know just how good it feels to be a giver. Generous minds build communities, neighbourhoods, friendships. Optimism. Happiness.

I encourage you to at least give tithing a trial for a few months, and open your eyes to all the opportunities to give and support the people around you, and around the world.

——————————

Passive Income Update:

As previously stated, I am on a plan to produce a monthly passive income of 80$ per month by the 1st of December. I have decided that I will let this goal include any passive income stream I create in that span, rather than have it need to come all from one source.

GOAL: 80$ per month.

PROGRESS: 7.16$ more in passive income per month due to moving cash from a low-earnings savings account to a higher earnings situation.

STILL TO GO: 72.84$ per month.

——————————

Thanks for reading.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

The Lie of ‘Never change who you are.’

July 23, 2012 2 comments

The Lie of ‘Never change who you are.’

Protean Personality

Protean Personality (Photo: FeatheredTar)

One of the core, central beliefs by which I live is this: that all human beings are malleable. That I, and all of us, are capable of change, of growth, and of discovery, of making fundamental shifts in our worldview and in how we relate to others and ourselves. I’m a junkie for self-help books, websites, and audioguides ranging from C. S. Lewis’s Christian conundrums to Marc and Angel’s motivational posts to Morty Lefkoe’s limiting beliefs to Steve Pavlina‘s open discussions on everything from worklife to domination-submission. To anyone with an eye for how a person can improve.

In my own, personal story (elaborated on more substantially here), the single most important moment in my life was a time when I was in church, ten years old, with tear-filled eyes, my head down at my knees. At that time, I said to God, ‘I don’t like who I am. Help me become someone else, someone better.’ After that day, I looked to the people around me and observed what I admired about them, then sought to instill those values within myself. Courage. Humour. Honesty. Openness. Community-mindedness. Counsel. Extroverted exuberance.

When I tell this story to people – my origin story, essentially – the most common reaction I receive is this:

Well, you shouldn’t ever have to change who you are.’

Bullshit.

(If you know me in person, you know it’s exceedingly unusual for me to use such strong language. If you don’t know me and don’t consider this word as ‘strong language’, please replace it with a suitably surprisingly bold word of your choosing.)

Don’t change? Bullshit. I say, change who you are. Constantly. Discover the very core qualities that make you, you, and on a deep, gut level, grok them, understand them, and then decide whether or not you want them as a foundation for who you are. Reevaluate. Over and over again. Everything from how often you smile and laugh, to how you spend your time waiting in grocery line-ups, to what you believe is fundamentally true about human beings, to how you interact with strangers, to what makes you afraid, to how honest you are, to whether or not you’re as good a friend, lover or acquaintance as you could be… constantly identify ways to grow, prune, build, and level. Then do it. Change.

Be the Change

It’s not surprising I entered the world of theatre. Here, I can wear the skins of people with different intentions, worldviews, tempos, and rhythms to my own. Sometimes while exploring a character I’ll find an aspect of them that satiates me on a deep, gut-level – a whole-body grokking – and decide to try to hold onto that aspect for myself. Iago (see here, here, here, and here) helped me explore the intensely gratifying thrill of untethered ambition. As Donald (The Boys In The Band), I discovered the honest love behind unconditional loyalty. As William (William vs The World), I spelunked into the dark world of how a person can use self-delusion to shield oneself from loneliness, and into the desperation that kicks in when those illusions disappear. Malvolio (see here, here, here, and here) taught me how to use heartbreak as a powerful driving force, and performing improv taught me to trust not only my own gut instincts, but also those of whomever with whom I am sharing a moment. Over and over again theatre has helped me continue to shape and mold the very nature of who I am, cutting into the marble, adding slops of wet clay, drilling and firing and smelting and blooming.

One of my other core beliefs is this: I respect anyone who is trying to better themselves, be they an addict, my mother or even a former serial killer. We can all be better than who we are; we are all works in progress, always. That doesn’t mean we are not good, honest, eager, excellent people in the here and now. What it means is that we’re human. Malleable. Full of hope and opportunity.

Whether you want to or not, we all change. It happens. No one remains the exact same person throughout the course of their life, or heck, throughout the course of a year, or a month. What we can do, however, by admitting our protean possibilities, is direct that change for the better, be that through eliminating beliefs that are hindering, through shifting your perspective of yourself and of the world, through adopting new practices and personality goals such as honesty and openness, or through pursuing an innumerable other opportunities to grow, weed, cut, feed, nurture, and breathe.

There are many reasons someone might tell you to never change who you are. Perhaps they’re worried you don’t feel self-worth in who you currently are. Perhaps they worry you’ll trip up somewhere along your personal journey and get lost. Perhaps they’re afraid you’ll become someone other than their expectations of you. Perhaps they worry you’ll leave them behind. Perhaps it’s just their way of saying ‘I love you for who you are now.’ But I would add to each of these that anyone who tells you to never change who you are, refuses to see how amazing-brilliant-marvelous your future self will be.

Keep consciously changing,
Andrew Wade

Addicts and Isolations

June 20, 2012 4 comments

ADDICTS AND ISOLATIONS

Warning: This post gets a little personal. Just so you know. But I think it’s valuable to work things out in a public setting, and perhaps you’ll find something you relate to.

*********************

My whole life I have been afraid of my body taking control of me. It’s time I focus on being whole, instead.

The body is a scary place, not the least bit because it’s where we feel our fear, in the rising of our hair as goosebumps send our follicles reaching to the heavens as though at gunpoint, or that sudden, sickening, nauseous, heavy thud at the back of the stomach, or up and down shivering legs and quaking knees. No, it’s scary because there’s such a lack of self-control and awareness.

Right now, blood is coursing all throughout my body, and I can’t even feel it. If an air bubble were to build in one of those channels, I could be dead in a minute’s time. Or that loving embrace shared with a sweetheart that I know is causing chemical reactions in my brain that are in some ways equivalent to a heroin addiction, so that without my control or, possibly, desire, I might be chemically pulled toward that person for who knows how long. Perhaps forever. The fat cells that actually secrete somethings that cause a person to be even hungrier. The thousand dangerous points where a misplaced punch could end my life.

There is the flipside of this, of course. The lack of a need to actively coordinate and control my breathing and pulse, for example, is much appreciated. Just taking care of that would take up rather a lot of my time. And though we are fragile, we are also incredibly resilient.

English: Human body external features

Human body external features (Wikipedia)

Still, for most of my life I have detached myself from my body, from that moment in grade four when we went over anatomy for the first time. A graphic chart of tendons and muscles and ligaments and organs, of danger and secret rivers. A queasy attempt to feel them inside me. Shudders.

The day I stopped running with abandon and scraping my knees. Never felt all that safe running on wet concrete ever since.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where I was allowed sips of wine or beer at special family gatherings like Christmas and Thanksgiving, which demystified alcohol for me, and allowed me to know that I wasn’t the type to become an alcoholic. I trusted myself on that front. But I did not trust my own willpower (or my body) enough to try marijuana until I was 24. And even that was with one of those, oh, not bongs, but whatever they’re called. And I’ve only tried that perhaps three times, in very safe situations. Because I didn’t want the chance of something triggering, and then being controlled by my body. And while this next fact is to many of you probably TMI (too much information), in order to explore the topic fully I should admit that the first time I masturbated wasn’t until I was 17. Because I didn’t want to become some horndog boy controlled by his body. I wanted to be me.

Honestly, there is a lot to be said for detachment, to feel like one’s head is a conquering crab atop an inert granite slab of a body. Puzzle solving and analytical solutions. An ability to calmly enter situations, debates, and problems that cause others to yell, scream, run and hide. I’ll pick up the spiders. I’ll put on that harness and scale the wall. No superstititions. Stability. Intelligence.

So yes, a lot to be said for detachment. But not a lot to be felt. For some people, this isn’t such a problem. But me, I’m an actor. I’m someone who wants to be in loving, romantic relationships. I’m someone who, now, at least, wants to be fully human. Not some clever floating head, but a grounded, emotional, grokking individual.

Malvolio and the Countess

Malvolio and the Countess (Wikipedia)

This is part of the reason why I was drawn to acting in the first place. Here, on the stage, in the script, are all these characters who deeply feel and yearn and reach. This is why Shakespeare is so fantastic, because his characters speak and feel honestly and openly. The jealous ambition in Iago, the crushing betrayal in Malvolio, the naive love of Lysander. I’ve always wanted to play the role of the lover onstage, because, well, it’s lovely to love someone. But to a typically detached person, it is also so very satisfying to rage injustice, to hate someone, to scorn someone, to grieve for someone. In the twinned poles of acting, where one side is sheer and incredible imitation without sensation, and the other an out of control trainwreck of overwhelming, cascading emotions, I have spent most of my life in the former’s camp, while envying those rolling about the floor in tears.

Not envying too much, mind. That would require too much connection to my body. I’ve described myself before as sometimes feeling like a stuck pickle jar that just won’t open. Which can sound tragic, but when you are that stuck pickle jar, it is an annoying but not at all overwhelming sensation. It’s more of a feeling that something is missing, like you’ve left the house and you’re on the bus, but you know you’ve forgotten something at home.

Figure 15 from Charles Darwin's The Expression...

Figure 15 from Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. (Wikipedia)

Then, a year or three back, I made a conscious and vocal decision to find a way to more deeply access my emotions. Partly, I worried if that depth was really there. I did research on sociopaths and autistic tendencies. Someone loved me more than I loved them, and I didn’t know if I was even capable of equally caring about them as they did, me. I was concerned. But not distraught. That would require too much connection to my body.

I recall breaking up with someone and being overwhelmed with sadness in that moment, one of only three times in my life that I can recall being so taken with grief, and even as I was breaking two hearts, a fair chunk of my brain was cheering because that moment showed that there was indeed potential for me to be an emotional individual. To be swept away by the tide of a moment.

I’ve recently spent five weeks at Canada’s National Voice Intensive, run in part by the brilliant David Smukler. When we begin the program, we put into words what we believe our ‘dragon’ to be. I said I was afraid that there was a ceiling to my growth as a person, some barrier I would never be able to cross, blocking the world of pow’rful love.

One activity had me shouting out a line to ever increasing distances. After getting the placement in my mouth just right, and feeling the breath, I found I could technically boom it out there, but… but I knew there was so much more within me, like I was only using two of the eight cylinders to my engine. So much more potential for my voice. When Smukler told me that the other cylinders would come with (and forgive me if I’ve misunderstood) real emotional intent, my first instinct was utter surprise. Apparently my first reaction to great emotion is to cringe inwards, to hide it, rather than to communicate it out to the heavens.

In university, I tried to access emotions like a man at the gym tried to access muscles – with isolations. Need to be panicky? Alright, I’ll focus my breath at the base of my spine. Need to be all lovey-dovey? I’ll try to place my breath and concentration at my heart. Intellectual? The back of my neck. All very specific, and for the rest of the time, my breath would sit up at the top of my lungs, assured that there was always an ocean of breath below, which was never actually being accessed.

Possibly the biggest technical thing I learned at the intensive was that breathing out fully is the only way to fully allow the new breath to enter. I can be confident that even at the vacuum point, there will still be air enough in there.

But even though that’s a technical statement, it’s the first step in feeling as a full-bodied person. I am not a head attached to a body. I AM a body, with a head brain, a gut brain, a heart, and yes, even a libido.

To grok something (a verb out of Heinlein), means to me, to understand something with one’s whole body. To feel it as well as grasp it intellectually, so that the feeling and the knowing come together to be this one felt, active knowledge, this… grokking. I want to grok life. To grok love. To grok my characters and their situations. To grok myself and my situations. And that won’t happen unless I allow myself to be a physical, intellectual, emotional, whole-bodied person who breathes from the lake within me and allows every new breath to be a wonderful, gutfelt discovery.

Hopefully some of these sentiments resonate with you on your own journey. Thank you for reading.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

My Alternate Timeline Suicide

December 28, 2011 1 comment

My Alternate Timeline Suicide

On December 23rd, Joe Bodolai, known as a former Kids In The Hall and SNL writer, posted his suicide note online, a lengthy and funny summary on his life, his regrets, and what he’s proud of. A love note to the people who cared for him.

“I need to feel the good that I did and whatever good I have ever done for you is enough for me. May you all have the happy lives you deserve. Thank you all for being in my life.”

The whole thing can be found here: http://qualityshows.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/if-this-were-y0ur-last-day-alive-what-would-you-do/ .

Suicide is a hard topic, particularly for me. I have been blessed in my life that, thus far, no one close to me has died. A couple of elderly relatives have passed on, but I had honestly only ever seen them less than a half-dozen times in my life. So death and me, we have yet to butt heads. Which will be an interesting, powerful, and potentially destructive spiritual battle when that occurs. But I know to count my blessings.

Joe Bodolai

Allow me to set the scene. I am a ten year old boy entering church on Sunday morning with my family. I am miserable. Daily. My family are great, but I spend every recess wandering the lot alone, planning escape route scenarios in case that kid decides to pick a fight with me, or envisioning scenes of taunts and teasing. Occasionally imagining what it would be like to be popular.

I wasn’t actually bullied much. But in my head, I felt like the schoolyard, the world, was a hostile force surrounding me, judging me. And I knew, in my heart, that when the inevitable confrontation came… I was a coward. I would run.

So there I am, sitting in church beside my mother. The pastor begins the community prayer. We all bow our heads and close our eyes. He begins, thanking God for all that we have, then opens the prayer to the congregation. An elderly woman stands up and asks for healing for her friend who is in the hospital with cancer. A man stands up and asks for prayer for his wife. I fold over further, burying my face into my hands, between my knees, crush my eyes closed even harder, deciding whether or not to stand up on my chair and ask the community to pray for me. To help me. Tears.

I didn’t stand up. But I did beg God to help me. To change me. To help me change myself into a person I could stand. To stop being such a coward. Wimp. Utterly introverted. To stop being miserable.

That was my moment of transformation. I took stock of who I was and decided I didn’t lke that person. And from then on, I have looked for ways to improve myself, from running to Late French Immersion (and thus, a different elementary school), to – on my first day of late french immersion in grade six – the brave decision to go up to the other boy with no one to talk to and start a conversation. Took all my muster. Became my best friend for two years. To joining rugby in grade eight. To diving headfirst into theatre and other avenues to find an extroverted nature (which I admittedly took too far in high school).

What does this have to do with suicide? Because if I hadn’t had God there, if I hadn’t had a wonderful family, if I HAD been bullied more… without that one moment in my life, I could easily have seen myself, a few more years down the line, as a 14-year-old suicide. Certainly within the realm of possibility. If there are alternate timelines, then there’s at least one of them out there without me in it anymore.

One of the biggest reasons I joined Peer Helping was because the POSSIBILITY existed that I might be able to help someone step away from the edge.

Now, I’m not saying people should be denied that free will decision to end their life in situations of great, increasing, and unending physical pain. But emotional pain… can be overcome. Can be conquered. It can get better. The world is a bounteous and beautiful place and we have so many opportunities to make it better for the people around us.

At the tail end of my time at UVic, I made a movement piece on the subject, approaching one of suicide’s darkest corners – someone who feels they are destroying their loved ones around them. Who feels their death will better the world for not having them in it.

Some more part of my inspiration for building that piece came from this audio clip – the last message someone left before ending their life:

 

Makes me quiver, tear up every time.

In this timeline, in this life, I am so very grateful that I am surrounded by so many marvelous and wonderful people. So glad that I feel deep down that I can be a positive force in this world.

So hopeful that you feel the same.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Graduation.

April 2, 2011 1 comment

Wow.

Today was my graduation day at the Phoenix Theatre at UVic. For 4th year students, that means a whole lot of performing, a ceremony, and a celebration. For me, this meant:

  • performed a ~30 minute karaoke musical play (including singing ‘Grace Kelly’ by Mika);
  • performed in a collaboratively-written group movement piece with kerosened chickens, magical pills with potential side-effects that include kermit-the-frog-arms and the plague, and the Child Liberation Program (where, as an emaciated, liberated child, I got to be a lawnmower and a kite, before getting shot down);
  • performed a self-written/choreographed solo movement piece where I did a blindfolded roll, grew wings, and stepped off a tower to my death;
  • performed ‘I Don’t Care Much’ from Cabaret’
  • performed a monologue from Lovers, by Brian Friel, where I spoke of my love for my fiancee and hatred for my father, in an Irish accent;
  • performed a triumphant monologue as Mozart in Peter Shaeffer’s Amadeus;
  • and performed my self-written masque – a trek through my non-relationship misadventures, portraying 10 characters in eight minutes, including a riff off The Phantom of The Opera that went something like this:

It is true that, you’re a swearing smoker,
but there’s, something, there that makes me wonder,
your boyfriend’s not too smart,
though you deal drugs, you stir my heart…
is there any chance that you two may just part?
No, nothing between us will ever start…”

All that followed by a celebration ceremony with balloons falling from the catwalk and many, many hugs.

I deal with endings by launching headfirst into new beginnings, new projects, new works. This week, I also performed Theatreshorts and my second week as part of Sin City Improv, and applied for a couple of jobs, confirmed my involvement in a small theatre festival at the end of April… I’m doing that. Heck, after the graduation ceremony, I went to a rehearsal for an orchestra/choir performance I’m dancing for, tomorrow. I’ll keep moving, keep trying to get involved.

But these other engagements aren’t replacements. They’re new, but they’re not the way of life that being a student is, going to classes with the same people, day in, day out.

I’ve been at UVic for seven years. Both of my degrees end this month. SEVEN YEARS. I’m only 24. That’s almost a third of my life. That I’m letting go of.

This is going to take some time.

 

The Class, featuring Linda Hardy.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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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.

—————–

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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Finding my limits – How busy is too busy?

October 16, 2010 2 comments

Ah yes, the ever interesting question…

Am I too busy?

One of the key areas I’m focusing on this school year, is that of finding my limits, of seeing just how much I can cram into my life, of seeing just how that affects me. When I’m productive, I’m happy. But how much can I really get done?

Most days at school, I arrive ~9am, and leave ~9pm, give or take a few hours. This includes three real classes, one class I’m sitting in on (but not paying for or receiving credit for), two on-campus jobs (at the SIM lab and as a Peer Helping Student Coordinator), being the Fine Arts Student Senator on UVic’s Senate (including a temporary turn on the committee for appeals, as they needed me), and acting in four different theatre shows (A SATCo – Three Angry Pigs, an MFA Directing project – This Property is Condemned, a directing scene – from Picnic, and playing Quintus and Aemilius in VSS’s Titus Andronicus). I also did a shift as an SAT exam proctor on the weekend for a novel experience, and hung lights for the SATCos earlier today, for a refresher. Oh, and I’m performing in Theatresports next Sunday. And those are just the bigger items on my agenda.

Here’s a sample week on my calendar:

When I see that page, I don’t feel overwhelmed, I feel organized. In control. And with all that on my plate, for the most part, I’ve found that if I can schedule it, I can make it happen. If it’s something I legitimately want to do, and I can assign it a timeslot in my schedule, then I’ll be there. Except…


Except?

Well, the exceptions come as a result of one little side-effect of this schedule: I haven’t been getting enough sleep for the past month

and a half. Consistent  seven hour nights. And when I don’t get enough sleep, it’s not that I make the wrong decisions, persay, but rather, that I make the right decision, then ignore what I’ve already chosen until it’s too late to do what I wanted to. My brain still works, but isn’t always successful at kicking me into action.

Tonight, for example, I was looking forward to going to a friend’s birthday party, but also wanted some alone time. The decision was clear – to spend a bit of time at home, then show up to the gathering a little late. Except the ‘bit of time’ grew (without becoming more rewarding), because it’s easier to stay at home than to grab a bus. And because I’m somewhat sleep deprived, laziness won out over the decision I had already made. Sorry Jesse.

Which is really rather funny, because this means I am legitimately complaining about my own laziness, in the midst of that formidable schedule. 🙂

 

But wouldn’t doing so many things make it hard to focus?

Surprisingly, no! Quite the opposite, in fact!

If I weren’t organized, then yes, I would be juggling too much in my head at once. But I have systems: I write a little agenda every night for the next day, and manage that incredibly useful calendar seen above.

I couldn’t possibly keep all my scheduled opportunities in my head at once, so I trust my systems, which allows me to really focus on each individual task, each item, one by one. Effective single-tasking, not frantic multitasking. I don’t feel stretched at all.

 

This Property Is Condemned

Image via Wikipedia

So, Andrew, what have you learned?

What I’m taking from this experience is that, if I get enough sleep (and possibly eat well enough, and have exercise in my life – though those often fall by the wayside as a result of a lack of sleep), my schedule can be filled from sun-up to sun-down, so long as it’s full of activities I find rewarding. My own personal breaking point, my limit, is not in how much ‘free time’ I have each week, but in whether or not I am taking good enough care of myself, physically, to abide by the intelligent decisions and choices I have made.

I’ve also been developing my awareness of when I feel less fulfilled, when I lose a couple of hours on the internet or in a game (when 20 minutes would have done), when a class just isn’t worth my time, or when I back down from a possibility of spending time with excellent people.

 

Ah, but Andrew, sometime you will just need to bite the bullet and spend a good deal of time on something that ain’t fulfilling.

Do I? Do I really? I mean, maybe you’re right. Graduation’s coming up, and who knows if I’ll swing my way into an awesome and fulfilling job… maybe I’ll be stuck editing company memos somewhere so I can pay rent and student loans… but what if, the magic what if, I don’t? What if I can charm my way into an ever happier, ever more fulfilling life? Ain’t that a possibility too?

For now, I do so love my patchwork quilt of a schedule, and until such a future is forced upon me, I’m going to take my time and enjoy it.

So long as I can get myself enough sleep, that is. 🙂

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My full-time summer, one month in.

Previously on Andrew Wade’s blog, our intrepid adventurer set out to make this summer far more theatrical and career-useful than summers past, by sending out a plea for aid, advice, and assistance to help him on his way.

I was fortunate enough to meet up with him in his humble rented room and ask him a few questions:


So, what are the biggest realizations you’ve made, now that you’ve spent a month on the job?

Two things: Responsibility/Leadership and Balance.

I have discovered just how important it is to me, personally, to give my absolute all in whatever I’m doing. On the week I spent writing, memorizing, and rehearsing Heemeyer and the Killdozer, for example, I tried to see if I could squirrel away time at the Centre of the Universe to work on the piece, but, mentally, morally, I couldn’t. Felt like I was betraying the promise I made when I signed back on at the CU, hiding behind closed office doors, setting a bad example for the (younger) co-op students.

Andrew, Lord of the Observatory (photo: Erika Joubert.)

I am not fond of half-assing anything (pardon my English).

This isn’t to say that every work hour I have is productive – unfortunately, certainly not – but that actively trying to do non-work-related activities felt dishonest, because there really were projects (such as building clocks for the different planets) to spend time on.

So I resigned myself to the knowledge that I would be spending my few after hours researching, writing, editing, and memorizing away. Which was actually a good deal of satisfying fun. And needless to say, the performing of the piece was a downright blast, a huge ego-boost, and led to marvellous conversations afterwards.


And for balance?

Life balance, specifically. I’m in my best mental mindset when I have a mix of socializing and alone-time every day, some physical exercise, good nutrition, some performance (which, I’ll admit, includes putting on 45 minute planetarium shows and telescope tours), and some mental creation work (I’ll include both writing and book-reading in this category). On a weekly basis, some God time (typically church) and time spent with children are pretty darn necessary too.

This means that, say, going to the gym each day as I had eagerly discussed with friends, is legitimately tough, because I’m already biking for two hours. (Sorry Graeme, though I really do appreciate all your help, and I am taking your fashion advice to heart.) That said, I am now (as of yesterday) making an effort to use my free-weights every day according to a routine he showed me. Bulk up those arm muscles. GRR. MANLY.

Honestly, my life right now is surprisingly balanced! I go to church on Sundays, teach children about astronomy at my job, and have the occasional great opportunity (thanks Janet Munsil!) and Impromaniacs to tie me into the outside theatre world. Even the bike commute isn’t so tough, though I do wish it would stop raining quite so often. (For the record, busses aren’t an option – they wouldn’t get me to work on time.) (gee, I’m really loving parentheses today.)

True, I may not be honing my craft as intensely as I do during the rest of the year, but I’m not avoiding it. And I am doing some writing, be it in this blog, or hand-written letters to friends, or a monologue about a homemade tank. I should really get on editing my plays and putting them online, mind.


So life is all hunky-dory, then? Perfect and idealized?

Well, of course not – there are always ways to improve. I still spend too much time reading the internet in my few off hours, don’t write quite enough, and spend far too much time at work dithering about. But I ain’t perfect, and I don’t expect my life to be so, either.

There’s also the looming potential that I won’t be able to finish my writing degree this year, as the one course I need to graduate conflicts with my acting classes in both terms. I’ve written an email to the chair of the department to see if we can make a deal somehow, though. So the prayer of serenity will tide me over there for the next few days:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

I would like to add, “God grant me clarity and self-awareness, so I can know how to create fulfilling days.”


You might want to work on your method of writing convincing fake interviews, too.

Quiet, you. 🙂