The lull and the storm. I love them both. With a new book and a film coming out I find myself suddenly required to leave my personal lull and calm of writing and venture back out into the world of traffic, airports, hotels, and a slew of new people. When my primary career was acting, I spent far too many hours pursuing the job instead of doing what I loved, acting. There was endless driving, classes, auditions, interviews, schmoozing, photo shoots, travel, and every single day—judgement and rejection. The career of acting is pretty much a constant flurry of activity, much of it frustrating and distasteful, followed by days of anxiety and waiting. There were days when I was worn so thin that I was tempted to go home, climb into my closet with a good book and a pillow and shut the door.
Then, when my second daughter was born, I shifted into writing so that I could be there for them. Other that the soap opera, which was, frankly, the easiest job I ever had, acting is a very difficult career on family. 16 hour shoot days and months on location do not make it easy to show up at your kid’s school play, much less be involved on a daily basis in their lives, and that wasn’t a choice I wanted to make. Writing gave me the leisure to work on my own schedule. And writing is solitary and frictionless for the most part. I can work for hours every day and never feel as though I’ve been frayed down into something as thin as dental floss by exchanges with rude, insensitive people or abrasive personalities.
But now, I’m off on a new adventure, and I cannot do it from the peaceful haven of my living room. I need people, we all do. I need my agent, my editor and her team, my publishers, the cover designers, copy-editors, the crew, my co-producers, the list goes on and on. Though novel writing may give the illusion of self-containment, it is only that, an illusion. In truth, there is a team of people who make it happen.
Doubly so for a film. The actual shooting days for a film are the smallest fraction of work involved, and now that we are almost through with post production, special effects, music, sound, etc, the time has come to get it out there. Though choosing a crew and a team give me the option to work with people I like and respect, promoting your product is a different story.
And that means…traffic, airports, hotels, and people I don’t know yet. And while that’s wonderful, I know it will take it’s toll, both physically and mentally. While I’m pretty good with dealing with most humans, I have a very low snapping point for rudeness, unfairness, and stupidity. Things it’s hard not to run into when you are traveling.
So here we go. Reminder to self—deep breath, manners, patience, and acceptance.
It’s the same with everything. As our world expands, and the population explodes, we come into contact with more and more people, many of whom have vastly different opinions and points of view from our own, and a select few of which just plain won’t like you. Social media has added a whole new level to this, with people we never meet being sometime lovely and supportive, and sometimes just plain belligerent and cruel. So how do we deal with those unknown factors without becoming angry, bitter, and rude? In other words, the very people we most despise?
Here’s what I’ve found—Questions work better than negation. “Do you really believe that I’m that unintellegent?” rather than, “At least I’m not squatting while grooming fleas off the rest of my family.” Manners work better than rudeness. “I’m sorry you’re having a bad day.” as opposed to, “You call yourself a waitress? Bitch my soup is cold!”
I have discovered that almost anyone can be diffused with a kind word, or an acknowledgment of their own strife, unless they are sociopaths. Just as an argument with a significant other can only be settled when we learn to say “I can understand how that must feel,” and mean it, you’ll be sleeping on the sofa under a throw blanket. Accepting that someone else has a different point of view from yours can lessen the stress over a confrontation. Except for sociopaths, in that case, I recommend running away. But run backwards so they can’t hit you with a brick while your back is turned.
We all need people. No matter how talented, perfect, caring or admired you are, there is someone else who is better than you at something else. It’s the ‘village’ philosophy. At some point in our modern society, we’ve developed the fantasy that we can exist without others, specifically others who are different from us, this is fundamentally wrong.
As humans, we survived against amazing odds because we learned to work as a team, a tribe. Some hunted, some gathered, some watched for danger, some raised the children, built the fires, etc. That survival technique is built into our DNA. The fact is, we still do this, taking on a required task in our structured society. Now we just call it a ‘career choice.’ When we ignore this fundamental need to connect with and rely on others, we feel desperately lonely and afraid, but we don’t understand why.
And when there’s a disagreement, or friction, watch out. It upsets you to deal with confrontation? Join the club. Nobody likes it, except maybe the sociopaths who, by definition, feel nothing because they have little or no conscious. But maybe it can help if you remember this.
The science of thought has progressed in leaps and bounds in the last few years. Here’s a fun fact to know and tell. Every single second, our brain is hammered with over 11,000,000 bits of sensory information. But our poor brains can only absorb and assimilate 40 of those impressions. We select which information to keep based our history and sensory preferences. For instance some people (almost all men, by the way) are primarily visual, (they remember and react to what they see) others (many women) are more auditory, (they remember what they hear) and some (me) are kinesthetic, meaning that we react to what we physically feel, (I remember and respond to body language and motions). So we each select what we perceive.
This is exactly why you can have an argument with a wife, husband or a co-worker, and both of you will remember the situation completely differently, and both of you can be absolutely sure, swear-on-your-life sure, that you are right.
You are. And so is she. Or he.
Let’s review. 11 million stimuli….reduced to 40 consciously acknowledged. Could it be possible, just maybe, that we might miss something that someone else saw, heard or otherwise perceived? Mmmm.
So I’m giving myself this advise before venturing out into the big ol’ cruel world. Be patient. Be kind. Be forgiving and accepting. Maybe that rude person is just having a really bad day.
And just in case, wear shoes with really good traction.
Shari, October 12th, 2013.