The letter request:
I have been working as an artist for 18 years (theatre, writing, movement, performance, even (short) film) and yet, why do I feel like I am going nowhere? Or in fact, needing to go somewhere? Where is the place I am going? Does it exist? How can I make a living as an artist? I often feel lost.
Everyone has a story. In fact, everyone has multiple stories. Some stories play out in the real world and some play out in our minds. I don’t mean that as in, ‘In my mind, the universal acclaim of my art affords me a lifestyle where the word Centrelink has no meaning to me whatsoever, and I can travel the world and never have to worry about how I’m going to pay next month’s rent and, oh yeah, I’m married to Michael Fassbender and our sex life is OUT OF THIS WORLD and on top of that he totally loves making me tacos and doing the dishes and ironing my expensive frocks and, guess what, he knows all the right settings on the iron so the fabric never ever burns.’
That’s what’s called a delusion. What I’m talking about is an inner narrative. In many ways, your inner narrative is the most important story of all – its influence reaches into each and every aspect of your life. The good thing is it’s completely and utterly yours to tell. Want to know who the star of your inner narrative is? It’s YOU. And guess who writes the script? You again. You’re the star and the writer and you play all the parts. Kind of like Eddie Murphy in Norbit.
You are your own hero, your own best friend, your own worst enemy, your own sage, your own fool. And you can make these characters say and do whatever you want because they are all YOU. When your own worst enemy commandeers your inner narrative and tells you that you’re no good, that after all these years you’re getting nowhere and that you’ll never make it, simply call, ‘Cut!’ Tell her she’s wrapped for the day, for the week, for the month. Tell her that, though her performance was very convincing (almost too convincing), she probably won’t make the final cut – most likely she’ll end up on the cutting room floor where she belongs. Tell her to leave the keys to her dressing room on her way out and if she steals the mascara you’ll have lawyers onto her quicker than she can say, ‘Do you want fries with that?’ Then rewrite the script and cast your own best friend.
This is something your own best friend would say, ‘How many people in this world can call themselves a dancer / choreographer / performer / maker / writer / poet / activist? Amaara, you are phenomenal!’ Or maybe she’d say, ‘Struggle and disappointment visit far too often but celebrate the small wins and keep on going. Relish the journey because success goes to the last one standing.’ And if your best friend was anything like Jimmy Dugan from A League of their Own, she’d say, ‘It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.’ Then she’d grin and say, ‘Enough with this serious talk (and Tom Hanks impressions) – you need a bubble bath.’
She’d run it for you and carefully test the temperature of the water with her elbow. Then she’d step away and fade into the background. She’d let you soak in complete silence, absorbing that perfect unity that comes with shutting down all inner narrative, a break from both the negative and the positive mind talk.
And then, out of that sweet silence, Fassbender will call from the kitchen, ‘Hey babe, you feel like tacos tonight?’ Wouldn’t THAT be the day.