You train for this moment your whole life, your careful, thoughtful, analytical about this one moment, and in that moment you side track, that’s when the hit comes. You don’t see it, you don’t feel it, your numb to it. You don’t think pain, you fear pain, you fear regaining consciousness in that moment. “Am I standing, am I on the ropes, don’t throw the towel in”. I’m on the floor, I didn’t see it coming!
I hate how I feel when I hear impending doom, I fear the worse, think the worse, I want to scream at the world, at the gods, at the universe to say why do you fuck with our lives like this, take loved ones away so suddenly, I had no time.
“Are you sitting down, take a deep breath”, and the words flow, the news hits and my head is all giddy from absorbing. I don’t want to create a story in my head, I don’t want to think about my send off music, like a walk on music. I don’t want to hear someone I know is dead!
Yes, I know death exists, we have to all exit one day but why smack me in the face, why punch me in the gut, why queasy and sick, why all the moments that I last spent with them and all the moments I could have spent more. Why make me hate.
Where is my grief, is this it? Is this the sadness, another empty hole that gets bigger with each departure, am I part of the whole or the whole of nothing? Images of my own death, images of a peaceful sleep, no one wants pain. Images of how my loveds ones will react, will I be missed, will I see them from the other side and at least feel them one last time.
How can I hate death when I don’t know it, feel it or haven’t escaped it, or maybe I do and that’s why my feelings are so prominent. Why do I feel time slipping away, reminded of my age, reminded of memories left behind that I never want to see or meet. Nothing about it makes me feel peaceful, gracious of my time, legacies I wish to leave behind. All it does is make me want to fight it, box it, kick it and rage at it.
Leave me and all the people I love the fuck alone! I accept its fate but fate is far away in a distant future. A future where cryogenics restores us, nanotechnology keeps us a live, that potion keeps us young and healthy forever, I don’t want disease, I don’t want to linger, I don’t want to stop fighting until I come face to face with you, and know it’s my time. Please don’t let it be alone, please don’t let it be tomorrow, please let me say to all the people in my life “I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you!”.
There are specific moments in your life that you wish you had someone to share them with and there are several friends, whom on this night, I wish I could have shared this experience. But like with every situation in life some scenarios are to be experienced alone and those memories are the ones that will stay with you forever.
I watched ‘Things I Know to be True’ by Andrew Bovell at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith last Friday, produced by Frantic Assembly. What a great piece of writing! For the first time in a long time I was moved (well utterly flabbergasted), I was transformed by a shift of emotions and inspired by some brilliantly observed writing about familial life. The play was about an ageing couple, the husband retired, the wife still working as a Nurse with four grown up children. The play opens with the youngest daughter returning home after travelling across Europe in a gap year of self discovery. All of the children, now adults one married, one in a broken relationship and one a city flier are still treated like children, mainly from their Mum. All have varying degrees of bitterness and resentment toward their Mum’s ability to constantly undermine their choices, criticise their personalities and having an insight to see the truth. The Dad, a man that shys away from having a voice and in need of a quiet life. Don’t we all.
I recently worked with Frantic Assembly on the Intermediate workshops where Neil Bettles (http://dowhatyouloveforlife.com/blog/2014/07/do-what-you-love-interview-neil-bettles/) Director/Choreographer shared some of the exercises that the company of the show were working on with us, we did some beautiful movements, lifts, hugs that left my soul shouting at me that this is what I should be doing, not stuck in an office all day. Would I ever get bored, no, I love challenges!
However, I digress. This play left its mark on my heart, on my soul, on me. And I know I am not the only one that walked away from seeing the show feeling like I went through a roller coaster ride of emotions, I’m not the only one that felt like I had been sucker punched in the gut as I could relate to many of those moments when your Mum looks at you and she knows the truth you are attempting to hide from her. Knowing she is right but wishing she was wrong and couldn’t read the miniscule detail of inflections in your voice or how the look in your eye reveals the inner hurt or disappointment you feel. Anyone who has been in that position when parents know how to get to the heart of you and rip you apart with words, whilst you live your life begging for approval inside. But you’re encased with a hardness that becomes your coping mechanism in life, in relationships. Never wanting to turn out like your parents and yet becoming the very essence of what you hate most about what or whom they are. Early on in your teenage life, you made a pact with yourself you would never become them. (Now the play isn’t entirely pessimistic, there is hope). But it is down to the individual to take the steps of change, that journey that only we can make. Only we can explore, learn, grow from and sometimes still don’t know who we are. We are yet to find the person within the shell we look at everyday. The first act took me on this journey and the actors played their parts incredibly accurately that I felt like I was watching members of my family from different periods of my life and to be honest they way the first act left me feeling I couldn’t see where the second act was going.
SPOILER ALERT: Do not read this section if you haven’t seen the play yet!
The second act opened with the truth slowly unfolding for each person, revealing the lies they had hidden behind, a need to be the person they truly are, hoping for acceptance within family life that we long for and so desperately seek. But even the strongest of families have their limits. Mine did. Which is why we seek solace in our friends, who don’t judge us in the same way and care more for our well-being. The climax, which I didn’t see coming (and this is where the play had earned its weight, its gravitas that impacted on me and the audience) is when the one person who always brings everyone together, who fought the hardest because they had the most difficult journey in life. Where the Matriarch of the family worked hard to make ends meet, to ensure her children had the opportunities she didn’t, dies unexpectedly. My heart broke, I could feel the tears welling up uncontrollably with the rest of the audience. Every “Not her” which was uttered on stage opened up the memories of losing my own Mum, it reminded me of the pain we all felt, the anger my Dad had towards everything and everyone. It reminded me of the space that could never be replaced, the “words yet to be spoken”, the lives she left behind.
I was speechless. This writer came to do a job and he did it. I wanted to share this moment with someone, with my friends I knew who would love the play as much as me. I felt inspired again, moved again and realised what’s missing from my own work is “heart” and that’s what this play has, a lot of heart and soul. The actors were/are incredible to impart such a journey, often I forget why I love acting and this is why. As I walked out of the theatre, I heard a girl behind me say “I want to phone my Mum and tell her everything I just saw”. I thought, it is when you don’t have a Mum to call anymore that’s when a play has done it’s job. It left me with a whirlwind of sentiments and memories from my past and now it was off to impact on someone else’s life.
Not to be too cynical but I do think, is it me being dramatic, is it the personal journey I am on in life, is this what resonates with me at this particular time? What is it? Why? Who knows, it’s an individual journey for everyone and things I know to be true is that no matter how long we have on this earth, try to not take your eyes off the road.
On Monday 27th of June, I was witness to a lecture given by the former Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. I sat in the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries’ great hall, surrounded by medical doctors, philosophers and historians, and felt a bit of an ass-(not my girlfriend’s arse, because that just wouldn’t do in such company; I’m referring to feeling like a donkey….a sense of foolish shame).
The media, throughout my life, has frequently conjured such images of public figures, that I would be hard pushed to name one who was not in some way a buffoon, or worse, an out and out bastard. In my mind, Dr. Williams had undergone such a make-over. A bumbling, irrelevant, Church of England (professed belief in any god of any type is always a poor start with me), Gandalf wannabee, whose comments have been mentioned dismissively on many issues. Instead, Dr. Williams is…
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For a moment intuition kicked in, the reality I will never be a part
of your blood, life or family
for a moment I’m not a part
of your life, your circle, your photos
for this moment I do not exist
I am, I was and still a memory, a shell of existence
for a moment I’m empty, tired, numb, fucked off
for a moment, my soul is crying, dying fighting the truth, the lie,
the made up scene in my head
for a moment my world shattered, crumbled, died or
did I face the undeniable inconsolable truth
the truth thats always been there, my fears
that ensnare, that encapsulate
that slaughter, that stabs the heart of me
me, who am I in the picture, no one, this picture
of family that stands, no one, that’s happy, that exists without me
me, who is me. No one, nothing of importance. Noted, that’s me.
Coach asked me today why I was holding back, what is it I feared?
“Losing. It’s simple I don’t wanna lose. Why would I train this hard and for so long if all I’m gonna do is lose”. Stupid question, he must’ve seen the thoughts cross my face cos then he said “Mia, don’t be afraid of your potential”. In my head I was thinking “what the fuck” and he must have read that too because I didn’t have a chance to reply.
“Just think about it”. And we were back into training.
So, I’m thinking about it. Why am I holding back? I know I can be the best so what’s up with me? Then…all these memories came flooding into my head, moments from my life where I had failed. Failed to speak up for myself, failed to help or step in, failed to be a fighter, failed to make my brother proud and that was it.
Everything went in slow motion, and I’m crying. Stupid uncontrollable crying in the street, and I’m searching every pocket to find a tissue, a used one even and then I use my sleeve. Come on Mia you’re 27 and you’re crying over stupidness. Fuck this shit, the only person you have to make proud is yourself, now get it together and fight. Fight to win.
There are some days where as a stubborn person in life means you do not learn anything but your own opinions and hear the sound of your own voice. Then there are times where you realise how much you learn from listening to yourself and the experiences you’ve had. But no matter how hard I try to keep an open mind about my own experiences and my Dads, the generational gap cannot change his way of thinking; it can merely bend it to a degree. But that degree is not a win on my part that he came round to my perspective on any thoughts I put across. It merely meant that in a second he heard what I said and will choose to keep it, ponder on it or has already forgotten it.
What have I learned in this process is that my POV is mine alone and attempting to alter, change, offer a wider perspective to my Dad is not lost, not wasted and certainly not a defeat of me trying to change his/ the world; but that at least I connected with him. At least we laughed and at least we shared that time together. We talked a lot about “destiny” and “what if” moments, the last part of the conversation was “what if I won the lottery tomorrow, that would be my destiny” and I argued this was a “what if moment rather than destiny, and was based on statistical facts that you would not win”. Ultimately, there are odds that the outcome could go one way or the other but in the end who cares whose right and whose wrong.
“What if” I had the opportunity to live life again and make different choices. I wouldn’t choose to do this moment any differently as I know these moments will be far and few between.
I love you Dad
Esteemed soul, divine purpose
drive to my minds eye of truth
take back the streams of consciousness
that drives me to mad endeavours
of momentary suicide
to die or not to die but to discuss
the righteousness of others that befell
inherited wickedness of deceit
but who is the deceiver, them or me
lie me gently in the arms of
forgetfulness of resentment of
the quietness that is beauteous
the silence of numbness
that guilt free, pain free death
of selective amnesia
coat me with your paint, armour
me with destruction
self pity, self hate bears heavy burdens
on my mind, draining my emotions of
comfort. The comfort of hate.
leave my body innocuous cuts that fill
with swollen words of lies. The language
of desert storms blistering my spirited
youth into undefinable eras of old age.
search for me when time remembers
that I did once exist.
My time of the morning, cool crisp wind in my face. No fucker bothering me or pushing me to challenge myself. A few familiar faces pass, we do what we always do, jog by without acknowledgement. Sunday, my day, my time. Church day, their time. He’s praying for me, gotta push my brother outta my head. Mia – this is your time!
Tune – “you better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it…”
I wanna try some MMA, soon. The fight will be over soon. “Mia, focus. This isn’t just any fight, this is a fight that could change your career, take you to another level”. Do I care? Really, do I? Course, I wanna win…come on Mia no complaining. “You’re lucky, you’re good”. So, what I know I’m good. Don’t get arrogant, why fucking not! I’m not saying I’m the best, but I know I can be.
Fucking doooog, can’t you see I’m running. Why stop here, you fucking little shit! “Sorry”, I wanna kick your ass right now and your fucking stupid little yappy gremlin. Ahhh my knee. Breathe, its fucking hurting, not another injury. “Fucking dog, put it on a leash on next time”. My opponent is staring at me with those disapproving but up for the challenge eyes, my pride already on the floor, walk away Mia, walk away…aaaaaahrrrrhhhhhhh!
Maria thanks the Eminem ‘Lose yourself’ lyrics. Great track to work out to!
‘Upstart’ is the name of my short film, it’s about a female boxer who lives in the shadow of her brother’s success as a former boxer. Mia is seeking to find who she is and where she fits in the world.
Who am I? Well, I am Maria Thomas. I’m an Actress, Producer, Writer and a lot more like most people. I have so much passion about life, learning new things, discovering new places, listening to new people even the ones that annoy you. You can find my Producer page on Facebook, under Maria Thomas and I will shortly begin a page on ‘Upstart’.
‘Upstart’ is written, co-produced, co-directed and starring me. If you going to do a first project, you may as well do it all.
How did this idea come about? I did a play about a girl called ‘Cutter’, which is also the title of the piece by Sean Burn. Cutter begins the play at the age of 8 and by the end is 18yrs. During the play she confronts bullying, racism, self-harm, loss of her Mother and then during the play the loss of her Grand Father. The piece is about a journey of self discovery and independence which is why I was drawn to writing a short film with similar themes.
This is the adult version and finally deciding on the lead character’s name Mia, I am about to blog about her journey week to week, maybe more but in character. So this is where Maria ends and Mia’s journey begins.
Today is jus one of those days, it’s naggin me, this pain in my fucking hand. Fucking injuries jus won’t go away. I wanna go home, I just want to say “fuck off, I’m done” but I know his gonna gimme that look. Arhhh….just don’t look at me like that, I don’t need a guilt trip, I don’t need the talk, I need a f…king night off. He doesn’t have to stay every night…but he does, perfecting his techniques, his moves, waiting for his moment, not mine. I don’t wanna be a fucking puppet…
“4 jabs, come on, stop thinking. Bam Bam Bam Bam. 8 jabs, Bam…”
I’m so fucking tired and it shows. I see his disappointment, he would not have given up, he would not have shown weakness. I muster whatever energy I have, “again, come on again”, I say and I see his fired energy ignited. Sometimes…I hate you brother.
It’s a start into the mind of Mia and the back story to the film. Thank you for reading and maybe follow the journey in future.