Discover more from The Remarkable Fools Letter
a surprise from the profession
it's difficult to 'be yourself'
Whether an arts educator or wedding dj, I’ve been astounded by the brilliance of the humans I’ve had the pleasure to engage with. I love the porous people, the ones who are just spongy enough to let some of you in while letting some of themselves out. Not so much people with bad boundaries - those are clearly there - but those who are comfortable enough in their own skin to be present, engaged and ‘eating life in big bites’.
I love to see just how uniquely present and individually brilliant humans are. We’re great. We adapt and readapt in so many creative ways. Essentially everything we can do well - that’s a creative adaptation. Everything we do that’s neurotic? Thats a creative adaptation. The stories we have in our head about how we got here, why we are here and what’s next? Those stories are all part of this great growing creatively adapting uncontrollable force called human culture.
So. The most remarkably foolish things I’ve witnessed, I didn’t see coming:
Being yourself is really difficult
Full stop. It’s that simple. Be yourself? Ha!
I remember when I started working with high school students. We were working on commedia dell arte - physical comedy. They were all naturals. I’d watch them joking around in the hallways and they were free. They were flowing. They were funny as hell. Once they had to ‘perform’ though, things changed.
On stage, they couldn’t ‘be themselves’. They got stiff and lost all sense of play. They were full of ideas and rules, not freedom and pleasure. I don’t know who they were or what they were doing. They were like confused young horses, wild eyed and bound while exploding with power screaming to be let run.
This was really surprising. I believed that these students so free to play and be loud and physically outrageous in the halls of their high school would bring the same bravado to the stage.
Accepting reality as it is is essential to being yourself. Much of my work therapeutically has been spent bringing people back in touch with the pain that comes from acknowledging what is actually going on in their lives - despite their pleas that life ‘should not’ be that way or that they ‘wish things were different’.
Being yourself is about living life as it is without spending too much time where it ‘ought’ to be. Being yourself is about living life with how they are and dealing with reality, rather than escaping through the fantasy of ‘wishing things were different’.
Settling into ‘being myself’ has been a treat.
For a remarkable fool. Life’s absurdities are everywhere, they inhabit every action, speach, discourse and relationship. It’s our job to expose them, play with them, and laugh at them at every opportunity.
When we’re ‘being ourselves’, we try less and ‘are’ more. This makes life more fun.
The less we listen to the wrong critics and the more we lean into what’s working, the better the quality of our work.
Being yourself requires knowing yourself and having the guts to accept within yourself what you find unacceptable.
I’ll tell you about the other ridiculous thing that I did not foresee when I began my career.
When I met Calle at theatre school he told me that he was a fork man. This is funny for two reasons: His last name is forkeman and he pulled out a fork as he said it. He continued to say “I eat life in big bites”. He mimed stabbing the fork into some invisible food then raised it to his mouth. Once at his mouth the put the fork in his nose and hung it from that little place in between nostrils where you would put a ring on a bull to control the beast. (if you have one such ring, my apologies, I do make fun of these more frequently than I should. Ditto if you are a man with a man bun or know a man with a man bun. I even have some friends who have ‘man buns’. And despite their incredible muscles created through gym addiction, I have not hesitated to mock said man buns in their presence. Anyway. That’s the story of the forkman.