Some Kind of Truth
It's been so long since we've connected.
I left all my social media apps. Stopped promoting. Stopped scrolling.
I still get tricked into caring about promotional emails--old habits die hard and the Gmail icon is the only little square left that can make me subconsciously waste time.
"Oh look, a coupon!" I take the bait for a totally unnecessary but-only-$25 eyeshadow palette. Poor old dopamine response... it's not your fault. You were built to enjoy shiny things, and little half-jingles, and colors that pop.
And notifications that validate your self-worth.
Anyway, I have no social media to post this blog on... so it's just us here. Let's catch up a bit.
I haven't written a blog since Sept. 28. In the past 18 days I have done some traveling, some acting, and a f**kload of learning. Almost every minute I had previously spent thumbing through social apps was replaced... with reading, practicing, contemplating, and observing the moment--which sounds cliché, but often felt profound. In those 18 days, I was a little more even-keel emotionally, a little more sure of myself, a little more OK with being unsure too. Though I still set my phone and keys down in a different place in the house every day (face palm), my memory for the events of the day and week seems sharper. My will to get work done a little more surefooted. I've been brainstorming ways to write about sex and open relationships, my journey through dance, and out of nowhere I also started writing what I think is a novel. I've been reading essays about different types of families, new age novels, research-based articles for my latest writing class, and a memoir called The Fact of A Body that seems to have penetrated my soul with hard questions about humanity. It's about murder and court documents, pedophilia and mental illness, trauma and the meticulous search for something true. Instead of tip-toeing delicately into the underbelly of human darkness, I am inhaling the detailed, poetic story, fascinated.
I have forgone IG stories, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, and even most news sources and have turned to books, films, and breath, in search of some kind of truth in the Universe. Some kind of truth to live by outside of fear and numb consumerism. I've become obsessed with figuring out what truth looks like, outside of me and in. I've been observing the ways we dance around the truth in conversation, omit things, exaggerate other things, say what we think someone wants to hear. Because the truth is just so untidy, so raw, so openly judged.
I played around with lying plenty when I was a kid. I didn't plainly deny things that happened just to get out of trouble (boring), but I would make up stories and tell them to people as if they were true. I invented whole characters and events. I once wrote my neighbor and best friend letters from a secret admirer in Grade 1. I created a boy in a wheelchair who was flat out in love with her, but too shy to do anything but write about it. It was a saga that lasted many days, maybe weeks. Her face would light up whenever I handed her a new letter, full of poetic insights about her face and hair and outfits. I relished in the creativity and the idea of giving my every-day playmate some real attention. I didn't think about how it would end. *It ended with me telling her he had suddenly moved to Disneyland without leaving a forwarding address (of course!). She was distraught and in disbelief, so I confessed to making it up, and she was rightfully pissed. My bad, Lisa. I still feel really weird and terrible about that.
In junior high at my small town Catholic school, all the bad bitches who I wanted to like me were starting to lose their virginities. They turned to me, one day after sharing a single beer we drank upside down with a straw (in an attempt to get 'tipsier') and made it clear that in order to be as cool as them I would have to get my own sex stories. I had been pretending I did more party drugs than I did, and acting like I was drunk when I wasn't, around them for at least a year (how am I not a more successful actor after all that 8th Grade method craft?). Naturally, I invented a man.
His name was Keith, and I liked him because he had dark skin and green eyes. I didn't know anyone with green eyes except my mom so he kind of looked like an avatar in my mind. A young Hasan Minhaj with glowing, almost teal vision. It was my fantasy. Who cares if was realistic? No one could know my mind's image, and this was in a time just before you could back up every story with pictures from your cell phone. His cropped black hair was always clean and styled with little spikes (the early 2000's cool boy look). He was taller than me (because no boy at my school was taller than me yet), with skinny arms and a six pack for good measure. He went to school in a different town, and we met in a party in that town (Hah! in reality I went to maybe one party in all of junior high and hated it--it was all shotgunned beers and puke). Points for being such a sophisticated multi-town partier. Points for having a guy notice me. My imaginative lies literally kept me out of trouble.
I drew it out, too. I'd get asked by the mean girls every Monday what happened on the weekend, and I'd make an excuse. Keith wanted to wait, I explained, making him some kind of other-town hero just to mix it up--it seemed like all the guys they were fooling around with were complete assholes. I wanted to fake-lose my virginity in the best way possible. Some time in 9th grade, the girls forgot about Keith, which was a relief, because I was out of stories and excuses for not having a photo. After one last weird adolescent summer, my true friend circle of academic nerds could surface and my crush could actually be a real person.
The point is, even when I was making sh*t up, I was trying to formulate some kind of truth. Some kind of fantasy based on where I was at and what I was missing. A lie that kind of made things better, easier, at least for me.
Thank God for the brute honesty of 33 in 2020. I do not f*ck around with my truth when it's known to me. I'm in classes and writing groups and actor's circles completely predicated on digging up truths. Personal and universal. Simple, playful truths and difficult, vulnerable ones. And it makes so much sense to me to do that. Because the truth is stranger, and often more creative than fiction (would anyone think to write a story about a dancer who moves to America, gets tangled up in an open marriage riddled with sex addiction, falls for an autistic Floridian who is totally fine with taking it slow, moves to LA where she masterfully avoids Hollywood success and instead finds her own spirit in the mundane every-day?). Even the fiction I'm watching and reading explores some truth about the human condition, helps me dig up a little more of myself and my view of the world.
Truths I'm digging up lately:
1. I am in a constant battle with judgment. I'm judging the people around me and the societies I'm most engaged with, then doing work to assess and undo my initial judgments, then judging others for their snap judgments. I catch myself judging me for having so much and for wanting more, judging my friends for qualities I also share, and judging the world for confusing me at every turn. The only antidote seems to be finding things to like, as finding things to not like (even about your enemies) is a spiral with no relief...
I can stop judging America for its political and economic embarrassments by observing a typical day in my California life... cashing checks from evolving social programs, getting a free and efficient drive-thru Coronavirus test, watching the lemons develop on the tree in my backyard, marveling at my healthy grocery options, flying safely and cheaply to Tennessee and Nevada for family things, and winding Bae's new Mazda through the sunny Topanga hills for Malibu beach days. I live in a city full of artists and free thinkers, a place where preserving nature and protecting animals is the norm, and bettering the effects of homelessness, poverty, gang violence, and drug addiction cannot be ignored and is fought in ever-increasing numbers. I am influenced by more minority culture than majority. My every day errands and run-ins with friends are flush with real diversity and multi-faceted people with infinite, epic stories. In this place, I am made better every day, even if only a little bit.
2. In being more present and more grateful, I can view life in a more holistic, ebb and flow sense. I can picture myself, older and more wrinkled, peddling my newest form of acceptance to grandkids and elders alike. I can reconcile the confusions and 'mistakes' of my younger years with the things I know now and the things I plan to know down the line. I can let myself be flawed, and tear-soaked, and exhausted, and frustrated, knowing that the unpredictable voyage in the quest to live a fulfilling life must be filled with both the wanted and unwanted. Adventure and rest. Difficulty and ease. Love and the myriad ways it can be blocked or shadowed. It's all part of what this is.
3. I am exactly who I want to be. A little of everything and a lot of heart. A ball of slow enlightenment, endlessly gathering and emitting kindness, forgiveness, joy, and play. At just the right place and right time to appreciate both the fleeting moment and the whole picture.
4. I don't feel like I know even half of what it takes to be consistently efficient as a writer, an artist, and a happy person... but there are some things that seem to work better than anything else when I commit to them: daily breath work and attention to my breath in general, 8 hours of sleep, reading a crap ton, eating more veggies than treats, and writing even when I don't feel like it. Also, some golden ratio of alone time:bonding with others that I haven't quite nailed down. I'm usually craving one or the other.
5. Acting, music, dance, and writing are my choicest, most consistent art forms, but taking the pressure off myself to deliver finished packages and societally-preferred accomplishments in these arts has helped me smile more, sleep better, and cultivate a much better relationship with money, contracts, and business-dealings. I focus on getting better at the art on my own schedule and complain less about the deep flaws of the industry. The whole entertainment and creative landscape is shifting anyway. May as well skip fitting someone else's rigid template and do it on my terms. :)
6. We are so much more than our labels. We are so much more than the boxes we check off on official forms. Categories are just jumping-off points for learning the challenges and intricacies of human thought and emotion. You could label me all day (half white, half brown, Canadian, Los Angeleno, New Yorker, divorcée, unemployed artist, amateur pianist, theatre coach, flat-footed, oil/sugar-free vegan who regularly cheats) and still know so little about my core. And the irony of it is--the only way for me to show someone else there's more to me, is to acknowledge there's more to everyone.
7. There can be a kind of relief in admitting how little you know. In releasing stubborn threads of judgment and prophecy, and embracing the creativity of how little is known.
Ah, the elusive mystery of 'some kind of truth'.
Hope you're well :)