The universe keeps coming through for me at the right time.
There have been times my friends have called me Even Steven – referring to this classic Seinfeld episode http://youtu.be/prvm5ZFPIrE (they’re all classic, really)
It’s not really that accurate, but it’s still funny. I mean I’ve lost 18 basketball Grand Finals and never won one… That was been the cause of much heart ache that I’ve never truly recovered from.
I won’t bother chronicaling every devine moment I’ve experienced, and, that I’ve maybe read too much in to, but I will talk about this particular time.
Three nights ago I got up on stage at a story telling event run by The Moth
I followed my whimsies and signed up last minute (coincidentally, ‘Last Minute’ was their topic for the evening). I was arguably the least prepared as I’d approached the event without even the knowledge you could sign up to tell your own story. My friend Michael and I, I assume, were the only two in that position. He also told a super story. If you’d like to hear my story – I’ve attached it here, it’s an extremely abridged version of rather lengthy ordeal. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDhDyKtVoWQ
The results were wonderful, I was in the lead for the entire event after the judges voted me 27.1 out of 30. I lost to a guy named James who spoke last and scored 27.7 while I was in the toilet getting rid of some hot wings I’d eaten earlier (sorry about that visual). So I don’t even know his story, but I was okay with losing, as the winner would have to re-tell their story on the 2nd of December and I was not going to be in America at that time.
The next day I flew from Chicago and the high of that evening to Austin and the vast expansive lands it offers.
I’d not realised their were no trains here. Nor did I realise that things were spaced out.
Luckily for me, my friends Kaci and Roy are so damn wonderful and seem pretty willing to just drop me off at things and pick me up from them when I’m ready. They are beautiful people. So I went to an Improv jam
Now, I haven’t written in my blog for a damn long time – and that’s probably a result of what I’m about to talk about. So my friends in the interwebs might not even be entirely aware that in the past 18 months I’ve been consumed by Improv. Consumed by it so completely that I worked my way up to teaching it in Melbourne… Which – wows me. I love it. Opening up people’s mind to life’s virtues through improv comedy is one of the greatest whimsies I ever chased. But I’d need to have been blogging consistently for the last 18 months to make it clear how I’ve started having to juggle improv and music in my life
At this time I’m splitting my time on my annual visit to the U.S. between improv and music.
Anyway, the jam, here it is – it was all over the shop, and for one of the first times in my life chasing my creative whimsies I felt like I shouldn’t get up on stage with them, I had no idea why. I started to question if I wanted it bad enough.
A couple of weeks ago I was with my friend Kenny before a show in San Diego, and we were discussing a couple of my tours before this one and he said ‘you were really hustling back then’ (one year I came to San Diego and played 27 times in 23 days.) – that quote from him has stuck with my for the last 3 weeks. Am I not hustling anymore?
I’ve questioned this each time I’ve sat alone at a bar in New York, Chicago, and now Austin. Where in the past I feel I may have tried to spark up conversations and meet new friends.
I used to push and push until people became friends and I found extra stage time… And do I just not want it anymore? Enough? Do I feel less worthy? I haven’t written a song I LOVE in a while…have I lost it?
Then I listed to Amy Poehlers audio book YES PLEASE, and in chapter 25, Amy starts talking about ambivalence being the key to success, and that you should chase your creativity but try to care less about your career.
Oh man – I mean, listen to it… Because I won’t explain its profound impact on me well enough. All I’ll say is, I believe the rate at which I was listening to this audiobook (letting other podcasts interrupt it as I wandered the streets of Chicago etc) was meant to be. I was SUPPOSED to listen to that chapter today, the day I was extra worrying that I don’t hustle enough anymore.
Thank you Amy, thank you Universe.
Trust the path you are on, everyone. Take it easy. Chase your whimsies and live your dreams
When I was 16 I joined a band full of guys in their mid twenties – they’d already had some success, with play on triple M and triple J and in my eyes, these guys were music gods. Somehow I lucked into the situation. Right place, right time. Right place being my brother’s bedroom (he was the lead singer) right time being the day their bass player quit.
My first show was an EP launch to a sold out Espy Gershwin room. Goodness me, was I terrified… As if this is a logical first show for a 16 year old! I exclaim with textually sarcastic intonation – You might as well have called me Gabriella Cilmi.
I had butterflies in my stomach as my brother drove us there, he was doing vocal warm ups and I was trying to keep my dinner inside myself.
I took all my queues from the guys in the band and from that day and for another couple of years those three guys taught me everything I needed to know to tackle the stage on my own for years to come.
For years now, I’ve stepped on stages with only a small trace of the nerves I had that first year. Sure, some shows are very important and I sweat attendance numbers or whether or not the hero of mine I’m opening for is going to like me.
But most shows – I show up, we all plug in, we count to 4 and we all have the best time ever. I know all the words, I know who I am, I know what comes next, and I always know what to say. I feel at home on stage. No concerns. No thinking. Just strumming, and singing, and laughing.
Until… I decided to do improv.
My origin story in terms of improvised comedy is not a romantic one. I was sitting on the toilet with my iPhone in my hand. A very funny friend of mine from the states, a comedian by the name of Rajan DharnI posted something about an improv class he took. He’s posted similar things the entire time I’ve known him, so I don’t know if it’s because I was being particularly reflective on the toilet that day, or if I find farts so funny that I was open to the idea of being a comedian. But whatever it was, on a whim, I asked Lord Google for guidance…
God bless Adam Kangas and his SEO skills, because the Improv Conspiracy drew me in immediately. “Chicago Style” that’s the bit that grabbed me.
Because we all wish we were famous Americans right? Plus, I’m a Bulls fan, so the word Chicago just makes me think of wearing second hand Air Jordans in primary school and comparing the price of them with the shoes Marcus CarattI was wearing.
Thanks to The Improv Conspiracy I’ve spent 6 months now welcoming back those butterflies to my stomach. Realizing that I’m SO far from the fearless performer I thought I was and being so completely challenged each and every week by the over-powering and inspiring beast that is Improv.
All of a sudden I DON’T know all of the words, I DON’T know who I am (on Wednesday night I was a reluctant Unicorn Hunter named Charles or Clarence or something I can’t even remember). I DON’T know what comes next, and I am not sure what I’m going to say until I’m saying it. Just reacting, in the moment. Good or bad, it’s just me, my scene partner and that blissful terrifying moment.
I use ‘terrifying’ in about the most positive way one can. It’s an exhilarating scare.
Staring into the eyes of your scene partner having NO clue what they are about to say.
I’ve realised I wasn’t as at home on stage as I thought I was. Now I consider my music career to be where I built my house and laid the floor, only now am I properly getting acquainted with all that lies inside that house. It’s a super fun discovery.
Thanks to those who have watched or helped or joined me in doing it up to this point.
I’m looking forward to learning for a long time yet.
See you at a Harold night.