Welp, I'm back on the road, back in the saddle as they say in the gig biz.
Every time I run for my train that's taking off five minutes ago (I get an adrenaline high whenever I just make it), I think, "Why am I doing this?" And every night when the audience and I have a discussion after the interval, I remember why. In a world filled with tedious small talk and competition for who's the busiest, to end the evening in a room (granted, it's a theatre) where people speak from their hearts, telling everyone what's really going on underneath the plastered on smiles, is the ultimate reward.
A girl last night asked how she could tell people she has depression because it makes her so so ashamed. I said by telling 850 people, she's well on the road to telling people. Some people talk about the critical voices in their heads telling them they're worthless or stupid. (That's one of my themes.) Just to realize almost everyone thinks the same way is such a relief; such a burden that's unloaded. Part of the reason our stress levels are going sky high is because we're so emotionally isolated and terrified to be human in front of each other. This is why I'm pushing to create walk-in centres where we can compare notes and feel less alone. Imagine a place where you can be real, meet fellow tribesmen and then have tea and cakes? Some people in the audience make contact with other people who share the same difficulties. I feel like I'm a dating service but my God, does it feel rewarding and I can pat myself on the back for a change. They all want some method to lower their anxiety; to be able to deal with life's hard knocks. I always say they have to find their own way.
I happen to have studied mindfulness and it works for me but it doesn't mean it works for everyone. If they're interested I try and give them some tools to use for those occasions when the shit hits the fan or for those nerve-wracking situations when someone's hurling abuse. The minute you focus on one of your senses, the cortisol lowers and, with that, the abusive thoughts. High fear is what creates that those critical voices; if the body calms down so do the thoughts. Stress will never go away but you can change your relationship to it. I'm besieged by critical voices during my show and the question and answer period afterwards, giving myself the worst reviews known to man but I've learned and practiced to welcome them in like old friends who can be cruel. The more you wish they'd go away, the longer they linger. It's like if I said don't think about the word "Elephant" - that's all you'd think about. So, let the thoughts in and eventually - if you don't feed them and stop believing they're true - they'll disperse and transform. (Trust me, everything changes - especially something as ethereal as your thoughts.) Even talking about it calms those voices down. I love the connection I feel to the audience and the compassionate atmosphere. It's like making hundreds of friends a night, sometimes closer than I am to my own friends. I particularly love when you come and talk to me after the show, believe it or not. This is my reason for getting on that train.