So, as things go…struggling into Bikram this morning with the heat that I’ve been longing for outside with the weather, rather than inside with mirrors that show the unkind truth of ones lumps and bumps. A sarcastic comment from my teacher ‘use your fancy mat and the lines on it’ felt more like a judgement than assistance in my position. So, poised and focussing on my positions I notice all this training doesn’t help my midriff. One of the hardest places to lose the weight and tone. Now some of you out there may say its about conditioning, I don’t care what you call it, my belly is not the six-pack heavenly achievement I want it to be. Do I resign myself to dieting, no wheat, no treats, no eating after 8pm and up my gym attendance, weights? Do I put it on my acting CV creating as a new category next to ‘tattoos and piercings’ and call it ‘excess flab’, do I name and shame it in a relationship as ‘extra curricular’…no I will plow on and accept my ‘teenage fat’ as never having left me and opt to have a Belly Dancing career instead. Now off to a half hour HIIT class…if you’ve got it flaunt it!
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about this particular area and maybe it’s because I have done a lot of facilitation work, baby-sitting for my friends and watching others proudly announce they are having a child. The associated words I hear when “children” are mentioned are they were “accidents” or “I would have them if I had enough money”, “IVF treatment”, “Adoption”, “Abortion” and many more. They feel like labels sometimes rather than a celebration of life, a concept rather than a natural part of our existence.
I’m still uncertain as to if I want to have a child or not? For me it was about having a career and being born from a first generation of settlers who thought England would offer a better life (and it did) children was never part of the plan. However, my motto has always been “never say never”. But there is a perception of when you should and shouldn’t have children and this has influenced me over the years. Of course, I like the freedom of being able to go out and try new things, meet friends at the drop of a hat or take on a new course. But then does that make me the isolated one who won’t be invited out because I don’t have children due to the face that I haven’t grown up yet, or my friends feel sorry for me because of the number of “failed” relationships? (Exposing, I know). It feels like a stigma, a perception, a whole load of shitty opinions which can happen and they can hurt like fuck.
Why am I thinking about this now, maybe because of recent conversations, my age, questions that span several directions but I will reign my thoughts back in, however sarcastic I get. Maybe because it is hitting home to me that I am in a relationship where my partner has children or “baggage” as some might refer to, who are still relatively young. Now this is a head fuck of endless questions or maybe just one, I don’t know?
So, what are these questions in my head, the first is my ego talking, will I be happy with always being second, am I mature and adult enough not to view this situation as second but as equal? (But nothing is ever equal, is it?) And as someone said recently taking PEDs could mean the difference between first and second, but as we not talking about competitions or winning, let’s attempt to remove one’s ego, although I think it can be healthy to identify with your ego sometimes. Then there are questions about waiting for the right person who you want to share a life with, is this the person, will there be another, will there be no-one, sometimes it happens early, sometimes later, sometimes never. Resentment versus unhappiness or negative thoughts versus acceptance?
Statistics show that women between the age of 37-45 are having children later in life. Why, because they are stable, have life experience, and more self assured. But then the critics and non-believers say “why would you put yourself or your child at risk?”. Hmm, risk, there’s no proof that the risks are higher for you or your child being born to an older woman than a younger. If you’re fit and healthy in your lifestyle then complications are less likely. The media perception is that the older women become more incapable and infirm and their bodies change due to pills, potions and menopause. But then again, there is proof that people are living longer, especially women and it’s due to healthier lifestyles, vitamins, medical care, the individual’s mental and physical well-being. If you keep yourself active, working, reading then there is no reason why at 80 you cannot have fun with your children. Yes, our bodies will have different capabilities than when we were 20, but that works the same for a 20 plus yr old woman who is not mentally or physically active and has children. At 20 yrs old many people are still home, living with parents so don’t understand real responsibility or stress. (big generalisation, I know, but still important). At 20 something, responsibility can sometimes go to the parents, siblings, friends or the state yet this appears to be perfectly acceptable.
The older we get, the more we reach out for that miracle skin care, organic food range to keep the ageing process at bay. Our wish to delay the inevitable may extend to our internal thoughts of what our legacy will be, who will keep a part of us alive when we are gone? If we haven’t achieved or made our mark in history or imprint on the world then what is left of us to make its mark? Photographs, films or our children?? Hmm…
Do I want a child or children, I still don’t know? But there are always options no matter how difficult the journey is or do I accept that I had my chance and now I need to acknowledge that my time has passed. Maybe going out with a man who has children is all the pleasure without the pain or maybe the pain is my choices that will sit with me forever. The reoccurring thought which makes me sad from time to time is that my father’s lineage will die with me.
Whilst sitting at a Reginald D Hunter’s gig at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, he mentioned that in recent interviews he was being asked if he was still “angry” about life or the news or had his “anger left” him. Fast forward to a part of the show where he asked the audience to do a show of hands if they had experienced ‘hatred’, I raised my hand. I could see many people tentatively put their hands up, and I felt bodies shifting in their seat. I mean why would you openly admit to this, it means exposing yourself publicly which leaves you open to being vulnerable. We learn to create different barriers, coping mechanisms, facades of who we are to deal with people, life, situations; to make us stronger, powerful, hard or whatever the words or actions we need to use to protect ourselves with.
I looked up the meaning of the word ‘hatred’, and in the dictionary (depending on which one you are consulting) it is a noun “Hate from hete meaning hate, plus the suffix of red from readen which means ‘the condition of”. But what I found interesting that it was described as ‘a feeling of intense dislike so strong that it demands an action’.
An ‘action’? What type of action and how would this action be carried out and broken down? Hmm food for thought eh? As I can only speak from my own experiences, observations, hatred to me works under many guises and with many other darker emotions. Sociology, psychology will tell us it evolves from other individuals, groups, variables of the economical or environmental kind. I don’t entirely believe that we are completely indoctrinated by humankind, books or religion, we make choices for ourselves every step of the way; it’s called freewill, what a wonderful thing.
Being a person of colour, I have experienced prejudice in many forms, racisim, sexism, ageism, and none of it comes from a positive, funny place. If you have grown up around it all your life, you identify quickly the difference between open and subtle prejudice. It’s in peoples expressions, tone of voice or behaviour around you. Sometimes I realise that I am one of the three other people of colour in the room, work place, or holiday destination. Sometimes, I feel like the quota that’s being filled, black female within the right age bracket for this role or job.
Any open prejudice also touches my soul, it doesn’t feel right or sit right inside me and why should it? Why should I accept that maybe the other person is having a bad day, time in their life etc. Why should I be mocked and be told that I’m being a bit sensitive, why should I be told that I don’t have a sense of humour (the list goes on).
This attitude makes me angry, it’s insensitive and like many other people I can take a joke but if I joke back “it’s razor sharp sarcasm”, “it’s hurtful”, “I’m being inconsiderate”. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes I will admit that maybe I can be these things but I shouldn’t feel like I have to explain myself when others don’t. Why should I care when others won’t give a shit, why should I behave like the “better person” when others get away with ‘isms’ that I don’t display. (I believe in karma and she is one helluava bitch because when she comes around, she won’t care if you don’t recognise her or not because the rest of us will).
You could never explain to someone who has been taught from the history books, that they were powerful above and beyond every race, what it is like to experience or truly know the ‘isms’. Unless the individual educates themselves to discover life, cultures, people of the continents and not “foreigners” as the term is so loosely used. How can you identify, empathise or connect with others when all you know is generalisations or media related BS.
So, being the “better person”, I have often asked where does this hatred come from? Jealousy? Anger? No reason at all or all the above (sometimes, we will never know). Why jealousy, because the insecurities that have stayed with us all of our lives are now directed at someone else, some of which we create and never let go? Aesthetic jealousy, monetary wealth, successful career, hard work, popularity, or all of the above. If so, then why bring any of the ‘isms’ into it, why make it personal, why be critical, why be pedantic? Why waste time and energy on negative emotions when surely it is easier to ignore someone rather than gossip about them, focus on what you do rather than on what they don’t, concern yourself with your achievements instead of transferring rude behaviour, a lack of determination/goals, personal growth and development because you are too frightened to admit that you and your life is not as perfect as the picture you paint.
Hate is a strong word and ultimately should be used wisely. It is a word that is chosen out of fear, insecurity, ignorance and comes from within ourselves. If we display or feel hate, then we need only look to ourselves for the reasons as others are not our answers.
This blog has been in the making for three weeks, I’ve edited it, re-edited it, the new draft didn’t save and with so much happening politically at work one’s perspective has been affected.
So, without further ado, two things have been on my mind recently due to being ill (the mortality clock starts ticking, let alone the biological clock) and a video I watched on youtube. I thought I would attempt to tackle both in the same ‘What if’ scenario as they are connected.
The first scenario is ‘what if’ I had two days to live (ok most people have one in their scenario, but this is mine and I am feeling generous) what would I do? Well for a start, I wouldn’t sleep, why would I sleep or as some people would say “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. (Whoever invented that saying should be shot!) I would spend time with loved ones and friends. Now, being a generous, loving person (modest too) I considered I’d make amends with people whom I’ve had tiffs with in the past…and then I thought fuck it, why would I waste time and energy on those who didn’t give a shit about me. Besides, how do you heal that baggage over hours if you couldn’t do it when you had days and weeks, I wouldn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me and I certainly would want to be two-faced. Instead, I would spend it with those whom I loved.
I would make films, short ones and post them on fb, twitter, LinkedIn (my legacy…ha ha ha). I am now filled with awe and wonder at the different spaces/places in London (or wherever I decided to live out my final hours) to visit. I would ask those whom I love to share the journey, even for an hour, just be with me. (Would I be disappointed at those who couldn’t be there? No, life is a journey and it evolves, adapts, grows and my path isn’t for everybody. It doesn’t mean they don’t care or don’t love me, but ego would have to STFU as there wouldn’t be time or room for both of us).
I would want to wake up in a swanky hotel, have sex in a King size bed and have everything on the breakfast menu (even if its to sample pure indulgence, it’s my last moments). I will dip into the Fifty shades of grey…hell yeah, (and more of course) if it was the last time my lover and I would spend together. Most people forget to mention this in their ‘what if’ scenario, but what the hell, these are my last two days on the physical plane, there’s no time to waste on contemplating.
I know at this point of realisation (if not earlier) I have two routes, the “ring of optimism” (as someone recently said so eloquently) or “the ring of pessimism”. Well, the easy route is to freak out, cry “why me”, allow myself to fall into a state of depression, drink heavily, take drugs (hell I’m going to die anyway) blame my parents; the world for being the cause of this scenario. (Of course we are all allowed our moment of breakdown, hell we are entitled to it and only we can decide how long we allow ourselves to stay there). And then I would look back at all the amazing things I had achieved in my life so far, all the small moments I wouldn’t even had considered or given much thought to. All the details of life that so many of us miss day to day due to inconvenience or our plain irritations. The rain on my face, a smile from a stranger, the sunshine whilst walking to work during a tube strike, a voicemail that I had saved to hear a loved’s voice, a hand in my hand. The architecture of buildings around me, poems on the underground, posters that made me giggle, street art and sculptures that made me think creatively or inspired me, music on my smart phone that moved me, a street that took me back to my childhood.
Would I go to the gym (being health conscious) probably not, but I would want to do something crazy like bungee jump off a cliff, skydive out of a plane, cut my hair for charity (not the hair, I hear you say) or a dance class that would highlight my hopeless co-ordination.
All I know is that I would want my last moments to be filled with laughter, love and as much happiness as humanly possible until I breathed my last breath because truly I knew this day would come. I just never prepared myself for it or maybe I did but ignored the inner voice because I thought I had more time. (It’s precious and short).
This list would be endless but let’s move onto the second scenario.
What would I do ‘If money was no object’? Hmm all this from watching this link by Alan Watts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSyHWMdH9gk
What would I do? Well, I would take care of my family first and foremost so they would not need worry about money again, and hope they would live or begin to live and fulfill their own dreams too. (It’s never too late and it doesn’t matter how old you are).
I would share some of that love with my friends, now how I view money as important. (I am about to use a loving relationship with a partner as an analogy – bear with me on this one) As with love for an individual, there’s a respect and understanding but also a journey of discovery and learning along the way. All the money in the world will not comfort you if you do not respect it or yourself. (Maybe a little far fetched but it was the best I could come up with at stupid o’clock in the morning).
I would wish to take my closer friends on some of the journey with me, maybe a holiday, maybe a yoga retreat, maybe a massive piss up or all of the above.
I thought I would apply for my 01 Visa and do some acting in the states, go across the world, explore different disciplines in each country but I realise I can do this without a Visa and would I really want to settle in one place. LA doesn’t hold the key to the Acting world like London isn’t the be all and end all of the Acting hub. I want to travel the world, learn about different countries, envelop cultures, eat various foods and meet people. I would write stories, poems, create short films and make a feature film of mine and others’ experiences; maybe based on truth or entirely fiction. I would love to dance, try many styles, do more physical theatre. After breaking my ankle and watching the para olympics, I knew nothing was impossible or hold you back apart from yourself. It’s not an easy mental and physical journey sometimes, but everything is possible with adaptation and support!
I would invest in charitable organisations and look at helping people around the world to understand about communication, love, sharing and discover their own talents and abilities but encourage them to take responsibility of this within their country, village, town etc.
I would look into sustainability and apply this to my life, home, career and eat organically from locally sourced butchers, markets or grow them at home. I would spend more time exploring homeopathic alternatives, practices and medicine.
I would continue my love of working with children, teenagers and adults in every capacity and teach drama to instill confidence, communication, self-esteem, belief in oneself and others. These are the legacies I would wish to leave behind and with people who may not be blood related but who are affected by inspirers, role models of their generations and others.
In all of my ‘what ifs’, I always felt I would be more material, want that miu miu purse, the swanky apartment in each corner of the world and not to say I wouldn’t want to be comfortable but it’s not the same “material” I want anymore. How I feel now is immaterial toward objects, things as it cannot teach me, communicate with me, allow me to grow, develop or love me.
If money were no object, would these really be some of the things that I would do? I ask myself, how many of these things am I doing already? Do I need more time and money to feel limitless in my objectives, dreams or goals or am I negating the truth that I hold the power to take the initiative to implement these ideas anytime; just like anyone else.
“If you build it, they will come” (Field of Dreams – one of my favourite films). What would you do?