Tag Archives: fear

#14 ~ Dating your Dissertation

Last Friday I took myself on a date. The usual time of empty cupboards had come back around (these things don’t change that quickly, but progress is being made). I figured I had two options:

1) Go to sleep

2) Drink water and go to sleep

The only problem with aforementioned options was that I was meant to watch a show that night with a friend.  I knew if my head touched the pillow I wouldn’t even make the curtain call. So I threw on a jacket, straightened my outfit, applied some lipstick (hey why not) and cycled into town. The local Chinese restaurant was the joint I was to grace with my presence, wonton noodles the lucky dish that was to nourish my somewhat lethargic body. Sat by the window, order given, the laptop lid was flipped open and headphones encased my ears.

I like spending time with people. I do. I mean, I can make myself laugh (I have a wicked sense of humour that only I seem to get), but sometimes other people’s banter does the job too. I enjoy listening to people, even giving advice, but deep down I’m a closet introvert. I need space, partly because I live in close proximity to the multitude of thoughts that swarm across my mind and sometimes seep out of my mouth when i’m sleeping. I’m an active daydreamer, my mind slipping from reality to possibility (today I walked directly into an oncoming van totally oblivious to its steam-roller capacities). So there I sat, wonton noodles on my right, a glass of water directly in front, my laptop and the audio track I was transcribing from at the tips of my (somewhat sprained) fingers. For the first time in a long time I felt quiet.

Still.

The noise began to recede. And I live in a lot of noise. The noise of emails, Facebook notifications, the constant, often mindless updates on Twitter. The noise of pressure, obligation, of commitments. The noise of fear and anxieties. The noise of desire, a deep longing, of jealousy, insecurity – it’s a bloody cacophony of sound, exacerbated by the people or messages that carry that noise like a body, weighty, loaded and ever-spreading.

But there, alone, I was quiet. My mind at times was unfocused – silly desires would take my attention from my screen to the window and back again – but for a few moments I was oblivious to the world. Inconsequential (except perhaps to the staff who knew my presence was more money in the coffers), but I was small, remote, petite even. Quiet.

I miss that. The stillness. Sometimes you can find it amongst people. The ability to sit, gently, and not speak. Too often though we’re afraid of the noise that roils off our bodies even when our lips are sealed – so we unseal our lips and let incessant chatter ramble forth.

But what I liked more was the focus.

As a creative person my focus can be intense, but often fleeting. Even in the course of writing this i’ve switched direction, pondered a few months into my future, worried about an upcoming competition, grazed a bit of the avocado lying on my table and considered re-logging into Facebook. And those are only the distractions I can remember. In the 90mins when I chowed down most of my meal (then spent the next 20mins recovering from indigestion and the after burn of the chilli oil I had carelessly poured across the entire dish) I was focused on my work. I had streams of thoughts linking arguments I hadn’t even fully articulated (I told you, I flip quickly), and a narrative arc that even got me excited for the viver. But my focus is fleeting, and therefore my conviction lacking. Unlike my sister who is a completer, i’m a spitfire. When the spirit leaves me, my hands stop moving, the punches stop falling, my eyes go dead and next thing – i’m out. I’ve lost. Lost focus, lost my drive, lost my engagement with life. It happens. I feel my body and mind drifting apart and then I want to give up. To just sit down and float, and breathe, and be still once again. To be intimate with me and my thoughts.

And that’s the thing. To do ANYTHING in life, to even complete my dissertation, I have to be PRO-ACTIVE. Sure i’m active, i’ll make grand plans, and sometimes, if the timing is right i’ll get to the end of them (while letting almost everything else fall to the wayside), but a lot of the time i’m not the initiator.

In sparring I have really good timing. I have a strong punch. But i’m afraid of hurting the other person, and of failing myself, so I often don’t leap into the danger zone, and when I do, apparently I don’t commit. So I don’t win, and weaker fighters get the point, because they were proactive.

I want to lose this fear of failure. To banish it to the darkest corners of existence. To be brazen. I’ve been socked in the eye, winded, jabbed in my gut, had my tendons ripped and shins bruised – I can take pain, but I take it from a defensive position, not from offence. I’d like to try being offensive for a while (not the insulting type). I’d like to try sticking my neck out and seeing what happens. Of being a completer.

Maybe then the piles of work that are growing each day would start to diminish.

Maybe then I’d batter my opponents

Maybe then that acquaintance would start being a friend.

Maybe then i’d stop being afraid, because i’d look up and realise  – i’d done it. I’d made it happen.

Who knew such thoughts could occur when one went on a date with their dissertation?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#4 ~ For Colored Girls: Dark Phrases

The first poem that opens FCG is entitled ‘Dark Phrases’. One of the last poems to be written, it begins as a lament, a lament for the (lost or stolen) womanhood of black women.

 

dark phrases of womanhood

of never gavin been a girl

half-notes scattered

without rhythm/no tune

distraught laughter fallin

over a black girls shoulder

As a director, an actress, and a former english student, before I can translate the above words into action and stage craft, I need to be conscious of both syntax and semantics. Shange’s style is characterised by its colloquialism.  It carries the ease of natural speech, and yet it has been altered and adulterated to incorporate a poetic rhythm, a lilt and melody. The most obvious conceit throughout the play is the use of colour. The first hint to the colour spectrum we get is a shade. Shadism is a problem within black culture and stems from the racial discrimination that has dogged non-white individuals for generations. It is a discrimination in which the darker you are the less attractive you are the less desirable, the less ‘good’ or wholesome. It feeds into the dichotomy of black : white, evil:good, that fuelled institutions and regimes such as the Slave Trade, Apartheid and pre-civil rights America.

‘dark phrases of womanhood’,  alludes to shadism and colour dichotomy, insinuating a pain, a darkness and danger that haunts the growth of a woman of colour. It generates the image  of an aborted or stolen childhood, a neglected or abused innocence which has created this coloured woman who has ‘never been a girl’.

When I set out to create my own production of this phenomenal and well-known piece, I had a deep urge and awareness to include music. Each of the poems are themselves scattered and infused with musical references. It isn’t just about speaking the word, song is presented as intrinsic to the liberation of the coloured woman. When her song, her lyrical voice is silenced, it is a sonic destruction of her physical, emotional, mental and spiritual being. It is the oppressive removal of a life. What is left is terror, anxiety and  a discordant life that has no melody, no tune, no future and no purpose or recognition.

Watch this space to see how we take these concepts and use music and light in our production.

Follow us on:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FCGLondon

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/FCGLondon

Or : http://www.twitter.com/Justina_Kehinde

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#355 ~ I thought you was Grown

I thought the numerical value one attached to a name and a birth certificate naively equated to an internal growth. Yet men are still young boys desperately crying out to their own search and rescue party that is lost in the confusion of  ‘maturity.’ And as you spoke I could see in the shyness of your smile and the confidence of your approach a little boy, so young, fragile and tragically innocent, with wide brown eyes looking desperately, scaredly, for a sign. So young and so vulnerable, yet cloaked in a broken voice.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

#350 ~ Miscellaneous.1: Sticks and Stones

(Written during my month long absence)

Sticks and stones may break my bones – but more often than not words really do hurt me.

They can be pernicious and penetrating wriggling deep into the crevices of your heart, your inner sanctuary, the hidden caves that even you are fearful of entering. Do you ever do that thing, when you send off an email or a text, and you know that you’ll be disappointing someone – letting them down. Maybe you have to quit an activity, pull out of a race or even miss a class, because you’re about to fragment into a million shards of flesh and bone, and you know without your glasses you’ll never find all the pieces or the thread to stitch yourself back together again. You gather all the courage that lingers like used up dregs of tea in your none assertive self, and click send. Boom – into the ether it zooms.

You wait – linger, hover on the thresholds of depressive anticipation, and then you get a vibration, or a new email pops into your inbox, and you wait, tentatively. Doing everything you can to not click open, at last your finger slips, or the dredges of courage somehow coagulate and you stupidly think you’re brave.

Shot down like an enemy plane, even the most polite response blows you apart. And English people have a way, a very tricky and sly way of phrasing reproof in a cold, polite but detached manner which encourages you to implode on your own – with no promise whatsoever of Red Cross aid.

Once the initial damage has been done, and you realize what a complete failure and disappointment you are in the eyes of whoever you had to let down, when you are aware that your excuses seemed like puerile dribble in front of their retina, and they are not in the least bit understanding, but rather more incensed or even pissed off by/at you, you begin to wilt faster than watercress in a nursery kitchen. Even after you’ve rationalized and played their argument over, seen it from their side of the fence, and even, to a marginal degree, agreed with them, all the confidence to keep trundling along and getting the rest of the work completed evaporates.

You find yourself writing a blog post for a 365 day blog that you have neglected for these past 40 days or so, instead of focusing on the presentation on poetic symbolism which is due in 30minutes. You get frustrated, and begin scratching your well oiled scalp until the coconut lubricant builds up under your fingernails, and your head is once more exposed to the raging elements which have washed your university city in a cluster of unromantic water pellets and dirty puddles – and all the while you’ve allowed somebody to make you feel shit.

You are fearful of the impending meeting in 48hours, trying to work out whether you should try to bold face your’e way out, put on a nonchalant attitude of –  Dude, it was in the past, get over it, and hey, this is life, people be busy – but you know that any balls you might’ve had at conception certainly never dropped. You aren’t like that – you’re a crowd pleaser. At your best this is wonderful, at your worst it makes you cower, fearful of even attempting to be assertive. You hate letting people down, because you have sold yourself into the fetters of someone else’s opinion – someone you don’t even know well enough to truly care about, but because they have a title, you submit.

And you’re angry. Angry as you realize this is a constant feature of your character, but the whirlpool of depression still hangs round you, tainting the edges of your being. Could you have done it any differently? Well, no. You were exhausted, you woke up 20minutes into the class and hand’t done the reading or the essay that was due in 3 hours. It was never going to happen – but you still wish it had, even if it was just to please them. Will you make promises and denigrate yourself even further as a worthless fool who shouldn’t be participating the extra-curricular activities which actually give you a reason to live (and might also provide a job in the next few years), you probably will say Yes to that.

Will you always be fearful of someone else’s words? Or will you get to a point where you acknowledge them, but can ultimately move through them, the sticks and the stones to create your own words, your own works and one day, be the writer whose texts are being discussed – and smile benignly on the student who won’t hear them, as their too busy doing their own stuff.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

348 ~ Playing the Field

Playing the field: it’s a term a lot of guys use. It means they’re scouting out their best options, having their cake and eating it until they find the cherry (take that metaphorically if you wish) which they’ll savour. It means not being tied down or forced to commit. It turns the female body in both its emotional, physical and mental sense, into a piece of ground that can be trampled upon by booted and spiked soles. It turns the act or proposition of a relationship, in whatever capacity, into a game with only one victor, already pre-determined, unlikely to ever fail. It shows a man is in ‘control’ of his environment and his own self-designed game; he’s going out to get some(thing).

Actually, playing the field exposes quite an explicit degree of insecurity. My assumption is that in the melee of people one meets, generally a handful stand out as ‘potentials.’ People you are attracted to or you have instant chemistry with. Playing the field exposes that one doesn’t have the confidence to go after the ‘one’, but would rather try the many and see if they get ‘lucky.’ Or, it’s a more sinister attempt at creating an environment of jealousy – which probably isn’t the best nutrients for an attraction or relationship.

It’s also a line I think one draws between boys and men. And they become men when they realise women aren’t a field, but a vast ocean filled with the ultimate source of life, containing a depth they cannot fathom, a breadth they can’t swim and a power they cannot imagine.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#344 ~ It’s about trust

I grew up being called stubborn. Not even just stubborn but defiant. When you think of the word defiant in the my context, you can’t pronounce it like the English – def-i-ant. No, you must think of my Yoruba father and state with complete authority – def-eee-ant. I was defiant. It was my way or the bloody highway. I was Miss Superwoman by virtue of being alive. I could absolutely do all things through Christ who strengthened me, and sometimes just by me who strengthened me. Stubborn. Defiant. Proud – very proud.

Yet I used to think part of this was because I needed and sought to assert myself in the world as a woman and a younger sibling. I’ve lately been learning it had more to do with trust. I didn’t seek help from people who I thought could or would use that moment of aid as a means against me. Count it as a debt towards me. Ultimately I didn’t trust people’s intentions or reasoning. Even very close friends.

Yet there is something precious when you realise you share a relationship with someone who expects nothing in return, especially when that’s a guy. They aren’t walking you home to get into your home. They don’t pay for your dinner to get a shot at taking you to dinner. They give, and they leave. They treat you as a platonic friend. In fact they just treat you as a human being.

You know you are blessed in such a fashion not only when you can contact someone and ask them to wake up at 4am so you can hand in an essay in their college, but when a few months later, you text them after midnight, your brakes haven frozen, and ask them a) to explain the mechanics of how your bike works whilst you shiver in the bitter winter on a poorly lit street and desperately need the toilet and b) when after carrying your bike over a bridge which has a specific name so bestowed because of its arduous climb, they appear with break fluid to try their best to fix your bike.

And then after all that they leave. In peace. Expecting nothing in return. Assuming nothing in your desperate SOS call except there was a friend in need. And you know they see you as a friend, and you know you feel safe to ask, because you flicked through all the other people who could potentially fulfil this engineering role and you rejected them, because you don’t trust them – at least not yet.

So maybe i’m not that proud. Maybe i’m just extremely cautious – and bad at engineering.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

#333 ~ Life Lesson No. 38

Do not get into the foetal position. Face your fears!

Tagged , ,