Friday, 21 September 2012

The house with the green door

When you wake up in South Surrey, British Columbia, the strangest thing happens: you feel a breeze.

A sweet, cool breeze, twisting its way through your blinds, smelling of the salty sea and pine trees and damp grass. It is accompanied by silence, punctuated only by a bird or perhaps the very distant sounds of traffic if you really listen closely. The house is quiet too, with only the low hum of a washing machine, or the quiet, musical tinkle that it makes when it has completed a load. 

You can smell the fresh air all the way downstairs, even though you're inside. It permeates the sleepy veil that is dampening your senses, and lifts your spirit with a smile. If you're brave enough to stick your head out the front door and risk being seen in your colourful skivvies, you may see some roses. Actually, you will see roses, and many, many other flowers whose shades put your bright undergarments to shame and whose names you are never able to remember. In the driveway there is a little black acura, already beckoning to you as the morning sunlight glints off its hood. 

If you close the green painted door and walk on those cool hardwood floors to the kitchen, you may find a cup of tea waiting for you. The tea will have been freshly poured and is most likely accompanied by a grapefruit, sliced in half, with the pale pink flesh gently segmented many times. You may have to get your own spoon from the drawer, but you won't mind. While you sip your tea, (a Prince Charles blend of loose leaf with just a touch of milk), the deep, lush greens of the backyard will catch your eye. In it you will see years of throwing baseballs and running races and making forts and you will remember the first time you played with your dog by the arbour and the first time you came home from college and just lay on the grass, feeling the summer sun and breathing in the west coast air. You will remember how happy you were to be home then, and how happy you are now. 

If you turn around, you'll see the stove and the oven and the center counter that is almost as cluttered as it used to be, but not quite. There will still be bananas in the fruit basket, though. As you look around, you'll remember that this kitchen wasn't always white, and you'll remember that things have changed since you left. Though if you wander in to the family room, the carmel coloured Rhodesian Ridgeback will be lying in her crate just as you recall. She may raise a sleepy eye to your entrance, or if you're lucky she'll even cock her head and stand up,  trudging forward with floppy ears,  and a softly wagging tail, her toenails clicking on the hardwood floor. If you bury your face in her short fur or rub her soft tummy, you may begin to feel a twinge of sadness and regret. Though it wont last long, especially if you hear a gentle South African accent call your name from the other room, beckoning you back to finish your breakfast. 

This may not be my home anymore, but it sure as hell still feels like it. 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

In the Right Place at the Right Time.

Goodness. It has been a while hasn't it?

These last few months I have been often seized with sudden ideas that would slot perfectly into a blog, but haven't had the inclination (read: willpower) to sit down and put them into words.

Despite all that though, here I am, I suppose. Sitting in bed, sleepily tapping away in my finest hosiery, air conditioner turned on full blast.  It's all just so magical, isn't it?

Recently, I have been vexed with some very contradictory thoughts, and I would like to share a few of them with you now, in the hopes that the very process of expressing them will help to assuage at least some of their very paradoxical tendencies.

One the one hand, I have been working on a visa to help me stay in this country for the next three years. (shock and amazement ensues, as none of Aidan's readers had any idea until now that he has been working on a visa.) Conversely, I also haven't been home for a good eleven months, and the salty Vancouver air and all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants are whispering my name. It's a strange thing to work so hard to stay somewhere, when at present, you'd rather be somewhere else. This  is the very idea that has been playing tricks on my mind.

This afternoon, I sat in Washington Square Park, quietly minding my own business and trying not to make eye contact with the woman in surgical scrubs serving as a roost for a collection of wild pigeons. I had about an hour to spare, and it left me with a lot of time to really just think. Enveloped by the NYU campus, I was particularly contemplative, as my surroundings prompted me to further consider my decision not go to college.

When I decided to attend Circle in the Square over any other traditional academic institution, I took a path that I never in my wildest dreams could have foreseen. All my life I had wanted to attend the local university, become a doctor, and and eventually take over my father's practice, living happily ever after with a wife and children in our idyllic little house with a nice backyard and perhaps a friendly, yet mischievous dog. Part of that scenario is still very attractive to me, and yet much of it no longer is as inviting and comforting as it once was.

 Perhaps I always wanted that sort of life because it was almost an extrapolation of the existence I was already leading. Or in other words, it would not require any drastic change and I could continue living the perfectly comfortable life I already had been, seamlessly transitioning from a blessed childhood into a blessed adulthood without any bumps or major shocks to the system along the way. Instead, I chose to go to theatre school and be an actor who lives thousands of kilometres away from his family, tearing his hair out to stay in a country that doesn't take kindly to Canadians.

Well, I do still feel like a very blessed adult (a relative term), even though the transition into this phase has been quite jolting. New York has a way of  brusquely taking your virginity without apology (though I'll be damned if I don't keep coming back for more). At the end of the day, I still don't feel as though this is a cruel city, but it definitely forces you to work for the things that you want and love. Part of growing up has been really figuring out what I do want, and these last three years have helped me to do that more than any Bachelor of Science program could have.

I still often feel as though I am living in a constant fog of mixed messages as this city affords opportunities just as quickly as it snaps them right back up. However, I do feel confident that at least for now, I am in the right place, doing the right thing.  After all,  I'm still shamefully young, and have plenty of time to really carve out my best possible path. I truly believe that I'm well on my way, and that with patience, hard work and faith, the destination I desire and the destination that actually awaits me will eventually become one.

In the meantime however, it's still pretty darn confusing, and I often lie awake at night searching episodes of 'Louie' for answers, or watching you-tube clips of Disney movies, trying to pretend they don't make me cry. I hope that I can discover soon just exactly what the right balance of education and theatre and religion and family is, but until then, I remain slightly bewildered and ever curious.

Until next time (may it be soon),


Monday, 30 January 2012

Missing friends and making vows.

I just said goodbye to a very dear friend. A friend, a brother, a scene partner, a classmate, a drinking buddy, a wingman, a pillar of support...and the list goes on. 

As we parted ways and he began to walk up 54th st, he turned and said over his shoulder,
"If you ever miss me, do something you wouldn't normally do, that you know is a bad idea and it'll be like I'm right there with you".

Those probably weren't his exact words, as he was walking with his back turned and I was a distance away, but I thought that to yell, "What was that?!" after him probably would have spoiled the moment. So I didn't. But I got the essence nonetheless. 

So here I am, playing devils advocate for myself because there's no one else around to do it, writing at 1am. I have to be up in 6.5 hrs to do a show, so this is clearly a bad idea, and since my blog has been more than somewhat sporatic so far, I can say that writing a post is something I wouldn't normally do.

I guess you're right here with me then.

I've recently realized that I do a lot of self-censoring within the context of my artistic work (and elsewhere for that matter) in order to preserve a portrait of myself that I think is more attractive to people. Friends, strangers, it doesn't seem to matter. One of the places that I do this is in my writing. I often feel as if I have not fully expressed myself, and instead sacrificed deigning to be vulnerable by tailoring my work to what I think people will enjoy. I recently received some sound advice on this matter which was: "That's fucking stupid."

I agree.

Therefore, from now on I am making the following commitment: every time I open my mouth, or use my hands, or any part of my body to express myself, I will ask myself whether or not I am doing so to fully express myself, or to impress someone. 

There. Now that it's on the internet, I shall be held fully accountable.

There is nothing more beautiful than the moment you are seized by the idea of something you want. In Chassidus, there are supposedly three stages of an idea. Very simply put, the first step (Chochmah, or Wisdom) is that tiny spark that you get, before you can even truly put words to it. The second (Binah, or Understanding), is an ability to be begin to reason with it intellectually and analytically. The third (Da'at or Knowledge), is a final conscious sensitivity to the potential meaningfulness of the spark generated in that first step. Once you reach that final step, you are imbued with that rush of electric excitement  that represents all that the idea could become. 

To digress from the world of Chassidus for a moment, I believe that this feeling of elation found in that original epiphany is often as good as it gets. We formulate a grand idea and fill our mind with all the possibilities of what it could become. By vividly imagining its final outcome, we are able to partially fulfill whatever the desire itself is, without actually doing any of the work required to make it come about. This simple, immediate visualization of our plan's final playoff will provide us with a very  exciting tingle.

This phenomenon is the birth of procrastination. For with every laborious task we subsequently complete on the road towards our goal, we are reminded of that original feeling of ease, pleasure and elation, and we ask ourselves: 
"Why can't it be as easy as it all seemed when I first had this idea?" 
Hence, plans are set, then immediately fall by the wayside and we move on to the next "brilliant" epiphany.

I have developed a tendency to repeat this pattern. Coming up with ideas and then abandoning them when the going gets tough. I believe that the only way I will not succeed in life is by continuing in this vein.

I also believe that the only way to fight this pattern is to make a choice. A strong decision:
I will commit to doing whatever it is I set out to do no matter how hard it gets. I will do it when I'm tired, sick, depressed, impatient and uninspired. I will work towards it, little by little every day, until I finally get what it is I want.

Writing this blog tonight is one of the bricks I have decided to lay on my path towards what I want.
Let this be the first of many strong decisions.

Until next time,
Aidan Sank