A look back at September/October 2019…

“Knowledge is power but powerless if you got it and you do not acknowledge it.”

-Royce Da 5’9” on Eminem’s track “Not Alike”

I often come back to this line from Royce Da 5’9” because he was able to sneakily insert a very philosophical concept into his verse that is so abundant with insults. It shows his abilities as a rapper are backed up by reason and thought rather than just spitting verbal abuse for the whole song. I tried to implement this recognition of knowledge into my lifestyle over the past two months to help me remember my own worth. It seems that most times in my training, I singularly work to obtain knowledge but when it comes down to proving my intake of information, my throat closes up. I am bad at showing my work. Which is weird because in high school math, I was always the one to show each step…

Getting better at self-discipline

I realize I have not released a monthly reflection in awhile, but it is because I have been focusing a lot of my energy on my studies at Ryerson. I am proud of myself for showing up to class even on my bad days and in doing so, I have noticed that my self-discipline is much better than it was a year ago. Treating my training with a balance of seriousness and amusement has rewarded me with a greater love for movement these days. I love to be physically exhausted again. It is orgasmic in some ways to be so full-out. In the dance world we have a saying that dancing “full-out” is the only way to go, but I never realized until now why that is so important for the audience and my own physical health. I am lucky enough to be cast in two pieces for our upcoming show in November: a piece from Merce Cunningham and a piece choreographed by Alysa Pires. Each rehearsal process has been different but they balance each other out. Learning fast, precise and legendary modern phrases from Cunningham is perfectly the opposite of Alysa’s collaborative, emotionally-driven, contemporary piece. I make sure to switch my brain when I leave one rehearsal to go into the other and it is really enjoyable to have both. All in all, by spending time on myself, I have found a selfishness that doesn’t feel like I’m being a bitch to other people.

My generous grandfather

In the beginning of October, my grandfather sadly passed away. Our relationship had been flourishing in the past few years and I am grateful to have had the time I did with him. He had many skills simultaneously and I never comprehended how. He was a maestro, an astronomer, a grump when he needed to be and a saint when it mattered, a husband of 50+ years, a lover of theatre, and a generous human. My entire family came together to celebrate his life, and his generosity came up countless times as we remembered his legacy. He always supported me in my dancing, and understood the value of education. I would have never been able to visit Greece, North Carolina or New York without his financial help and I can’t come up with a better word for gratitude towards him. I was just starting to get back into my piano practice when he died and my new goal is to play as well as he did by the time I’m 80. I’ll have to really work on sight-reading because he had that skill down pat! Love you always, Grandpa.

Barely making it through

While my academic mind-set has been growing, my mental health is a bit f u z z y… Both in September and October, my anxiety levels continue to ride up and down based on the busy schedule I create for myself. I am noticing that the more opportunities and tasks I take on, I need to also allow time for rest, reflection and removal. I tend to say yes too much and that causes my productivity to decrease in quality. I will get the job done but it won’t be my best work. Then, I get upset and label myself as a failure. I still believe it is crucial to never let any opportunity pass you by, but without a proper mind-set my achievements happen because I barely made it through. I don’t want to create art or make pasta or ride an elevator or laugh at a friend’s joke if it means that I am half-committed. Especially in my creative practice as an artist, my worst work occurs when I am rushing to get it done. To be present and uni-tasking is a constant battle for me as someone who likes to multi-task my way through life. I want to be alive in the world. Anxiety ceases that from happening.

Reading

Getting back to my love for reading physical texts has been extremely successful to my overall well-being. I can actually expand my attention-span and I can actually take in words on a page again. Yes, I am reading 5 books right now and that is completely counter-productive to the previous paragraph, but I am happy to have literature as my main pass-time.

To finish

To finish off, I want to congratulate myself for staying strong these past two months. I am in a much better place than I used to be but I know that I still have work to do. I want to open my heart to others because I feel more like myself these days. Let’s see how that goes in November.

Instead of a photo to capture these two months, I leave you with a poem my grandfather had on his fridge:

Salutation to the Dawn

Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendour of beauty
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore to this day!
Such is the salutation to the dawn.

-Kalidasa, Indian Poet

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