Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Creative Cheerleaders


Before I start - I hope I haven't given you the wrong impression. This is not about the type of cheerleading portrayed in the film Bring It On. It's a great moviefilm. I myself have watched it many, many times.

Allow me to explain. A few months ago Tavi came to Melbourne to speak at a writer's festival, and her keynote speech was televised on the ABC's Big Ideas. I watched it on iView one fatigued afternoon and was amazed when she told me who I am.

A creative cheerleader. I've always felt creative but found it difficult to define what I create.

Earlier this year I met Mirka Mora at a lunch thing, who asked me if I was an artist. I said no, but I write some things. I felt uneasy about saying this - like it was fibbing. You can't fib to Mirka Mora! Anyway, then she looked up my skirt and we had a champagne, because that's what you do when you're with Mirka.

Having always loved music, I've played a few instruments and could interpret the heck out of things other people had already written when I was younger and my arms worked. Want to know the bassline or vocal harmonies of music I love? I can hum it off the cuff til the cows come home. I can cross stitch someone else's pattern with the best of them. Soft toys? Give me the cut outs and I'll sew them together with so much love you'll feel it bursting out of the seams. Don't even get me started on a mix tape.

Other people's creativity really melts my butter. I think if I wasn't able to stand on some kind of soapbox and yell "Hey you guys, look at this! Listen to this! This made me SO happy and I hope it makes you happy too!" then my life would hold a lot less meaning and fulfillment.

How lovely to come to a place where I understand part of my purpose ('part of' because the best is always yet to come). Thanks Tavi. So I whole-heartedly cheer for love, music, and various other things. It's a lovely life to lead, and to understand and own that it's a creative process in itself is pretty sweet.

As a side note of cheer, the shades of blue that Romy Sai Zunde use in her paintings make my belly go flip flop. Absolutely amazing.

When I write and conduct (but it feels more like a sincere kind of performance) weddings, I'm cheerleading for their relationship. Yo! Everyone here at the wedding - these people are in LOVE and that is ACE! Let's all  feel good about it - me and a bunch of other carefully chosen people will tell you the story of this couple for the next 10-15 minutes. Then we can all feel feelings together that will really give this a sense of occasion.

That wee snippet of time doesn't come easily or quickly, and so much energy goes in to creating the right feel and space for two souls to sign that mystical (and often legal) contract. Sure - it's creative, but it's paraphrasing what has already been said. My job as a celebrant is so much about listening and giving the couple the space and time to speak to, and from, each others hearts.

Tavi founded and writes for a marvelous website for teenage girls called Rookie. I've ordered a couple of the Rookie Yearbooks for my niece who is pretty shy, and has the most beautiful heart. I hope when she opens her Christmas presents this year, the pages crammed with words and images and amazing style inspire her and give her a world where she feels fizzy and bright*.

It's so energising to see the truth sometimes. I wonder about that - why it's so refreshing to see honesty in film, literature, music. It stands out. I guess my version of truth is very different to someone elses, and that's why I'm more into Neko Case than One Direction, but the other 32 year old woman living around the corner is hot for that boy band like a moth to a carefully constructed unkempt hairdo. Every day we're in these Venn diagrams - the things, experiences, thoughts I believe in and connect with intersect with yours, and that makes us feel a certain way when we're communicating.

Sometimes I feel so exhausted after having a short (but feels long) conversation with another human being I literally need to lie down and zone out for awhile to recalibrate. I've been trying to work out what that's about - what the common thread is. Why does it offend my nervous system so much if someone is outside the intersecting circle?

An example: we tried a couples pack delivery from a local fruit and veggie company. It came with eggs and milk we had no use for (the chickens provide more than enough for us and we drink soy) so Tracey and I offered it to a neighbour. We stood on her front step for an eternity as time marched on and so did her sentences. On and on and on about work, her children, how much she loves to talk, how other people are annoying. (Are they? Are they really?)

It was impossible to interject. Oh, how we tried. To level the playing field of conversation. To see if the neighbour had any interest whatsoever in anyone outside of the inner circle of her Venn diagram (herself). She did not. Tracey and I both have experience in workplace conflict resolution and I noticed us each attempting active listening, "I" statements, etc.  I wonder why it's so exhausting to be at the bum end of interest like that? It doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things - perhaps it's disheartening to reach out and be met with a solid wall of need and take.

The last thing I want to do is be unkind and be hatin' on folks. What is dull and overly needy to me is undoubtedly fascinating to another. Just like some shoes don't fit my feet but look fab and feel comfortable on someone else. Do other people feel it in such a physical way or am I a bit freaky deaky? Who knows. (The irony of blogging about myself isn't lost on me either).

It's pretty great to know what makes me happy, so I can head in that direction and tip the balance toward more smiles and less blahs.

A couple of my favourite creative cheerleaders are Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), and Michaela McGuire and Marieke Hardy (Women of Letters). How about you?

* Weirdly, I had to wrap the yearbooks before I looked through them properly because I found the experience too overwhelming. I also thought that maybe if I read it then all the magic would have been spent - and it was a gift for someone else.

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