Friday, October 23, 2009
I just listened to the last crack and fizzle of a Highveld thunderstorm. I remember sitting in my hostel room in Braamfontein just over ten years ago swatting for my matric finals and enjoying the sound of the rain on the corrugated roofs outside as I took a moment to phase out and chew on my highlighter. I’m sure this rain can clean a scuffed heart, but mine doesn’t feel scuffed at all tonight, in fact it’s been licked all shiny clean by some interesting new acquaintances.
Today my best friend Sonia (the Guava Panty princess) and I visited a domestic animal sanctuary in Roodepoort named FORA. Hundreds of dogs and cats desperate for Love and affection crammed into a relatively small space, but clearly cared for as best as possible under the circumstances. All the more emotive because the land on which the sanctuary stands has been sold to developers and the people who run the place are now trying to raise funds to be able to prevent all these furry creatures from becoming homeless and abandoned AGAIN.
Off the bat the place reminded me of a gay club. The same hunger for affection and acceptance and the same happy-go-lucky ‘jollers’ who didn’t give a shit and just wanted to shag. (Quite a few of the dogs tried to hump each other and they didn’t care if their “stuk” was male or female.) I saw myself in the puppies, the old scruffy Labrador with a hoarse bark and the one eyed smoky cat that shared its living space with another few hundred cats in a space no bigger than a garage. The constant barking and the occasional scuffle ending with a high pitched “tchank!” got to me a little initially, until I decided to try and see if there was another way to look at the situation. We played with some adorable puppies who somehow managed to splatter us with their poo through the fence and afterwards we walked through different gated sections that housed many types of dogs of all sizes, ages, breed and personality. Each section lead on to another and the place seemed to go on and on with an endless variety of abandoned dogs yapping with gay abandon. Right at the back were these old granpa dogs in one section together wheeze barking at us, all arthritic and one even had a moony white cataract. Finally I ended up in the cat “cage” on a deck chair with at least four cats on my lap at a time; one would disembark only for another to quickly take its place. I love both cats and dogs but I really connect with cats because they are more intelligent and complex (just like me!). They’re aloof and then affectionate and I love that they keep me guessing.
The place in its entirety also reminded me of a squatter camp. In the townships I’ve performed in I’ve seen humans living in worse conditions than the animals I saw today. At least the animal had food, shelter and people caring for them. I can see you thinking “SHEESH DUDE! Where’s the friggin silver lining already!” Well, I did notice that almost all the animals like the people I encountered in the poorest of areas seemed for the most part happy and friendly. I know that sounds weird but beside their visible need for affection most of the animals seemed quite content in their set of circumstances and I realized that any form of dissatisfaction or self-pity I could conjure would not stand up against what these animals are purring and wagging their tails through every day. I left the place energised by all the Love they showered on me without me having to qualify myself to them in anyway. They just gave it to me. No holds barred. It was inspiring this Gung-Ho no fear Love that they freely and easily extended to me. Many have probably known great pain from the human hand and yet they didn’t hesitate to lick mine.
According to my personal numerology for October I am having an 8 month in a 7 year. An 8 month is supposed to be a month in which hard work and dividends begin to pay off. 8 is about intelligent work, motivation and reaping the harvest of all the seeds planted in days gone by. So far this month has been just that. Clearing the clutter, deciding what I want and then getting down and dirty to make it happen. I realise more and more everyday that life is not so much about what is presented to me but more about how I choose to see it and what I then decide to do with it. I must choose every day what day I want to have and then, like an order from Mr. Delivery, it arrives, even though it does sometimes come a bit late. So my strategy for success is to think cunningly like a cat, work hard and loyally like a dog and Love unabashedly like a puppy. Thank you FORA I’m going to find a way to help you.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
All of us live with our own little clutch bags of emotion. Some of us have clutch bags, others have tiny purses of emotion they can easily put away into their pockets out of the public eye and then there are those of us with huge duffle bags that we lug around wherever we go, hoping to check in our baggage somewhere en route to our various destinations. Eckart Tolle in his book 'The Power of Now' suggests that emotion is what keeps us living in the past or the future and robs us of the skill of living fully in the moment. In a casting or an audition for something that I really want my emotions will go from a manageable moonbag size to an industrial sized tin trunk in ten seconds flat if I don't manage to calm myself down. I often wrestle with my emotion but I am determined not to lose my sensitivity and ability to truly feel things in my life. Men (and nowadays even a lot of women) are encouraged to show no emotion. To be ruthless. Its cool to be cold. We try and numb ourselves with painkillers, cigarettes alcohol and other drugs but sure as the sun rises those raw nerve ending around our hearts appear in the morninglight throbbing and more demanding of our attention like ear ache in our hearts. Emotion is like Pepe LePhew the animated skunk. Pepe is besotted with a black female cat who due to a brush up with some white paint, he mistakes to be a female skunk and therefore his potential perfect match. We are like this cat he has mistaken for a possible mate. Wherever the cat runs and however far it gets or how many doors it locks behind it, Pepe is always right there behind her waiting to plant an opportunistic kiss on the unfortunate creature. She cannot escape him and his skunky stench and like the kitty we wake up after a night of numbing to the alarming odour of all of last nights left over and now off emotions. Emotion must be faced. Better to do it when its still relatively fresh. I suppose in this regard its a lot like taking out the trash. But your own more importantly than that of others. Emotionally I have been apprehensive about the same basic stuff: money, career, romance and relationships in general. I notice how prevailent it is in everyone around me. I go for dinner with two good friend who are a couple, after a few glasses of red wine they start squablling with each other and their fears and insecurities become layed bare on the restaurant table, but they're both tipsy and each so immersed in their own sea of emotion that they hardly notice one another as they plot their arguments. On a dancefloor the music is so loud and the lighting so erratic we are all forced into our own little worlds despite dancing within inches from one another. We all allow the music to dictate the rise and fall of our emotions as we search the smear of faces for love and recognition. Sometimes I'll sit in a dark movie house with mates and allow myself to be immersed in the story and give my tearducts a good flushing. Rarely in everyday life do I come in contact with those kinds of emotions and feelings within my interactions with other people in my life. Most of my emotion is kept in bags under my bed, only to be sorted in absolute privacy. When others parade or expose their emotions in front of me I am often left feeling alienated or angry. I have studied acting most of my life and nothing gets me more ruffled than crocodile tears. But even authentic raw emotion from someone that I don't know very well can make me want to hitchhike to the Himalayas. I withdraw in outbursts and drama and I wish others didn't rely on them so much for catharsis and stimulation. I trust my emotion to guide me towards the things that are right for me and away from the things that will harm me. But otherwise I see them as large boisterous dogs that need to be contained or else they will do damage to me and other peoples property. Often things said from emotion can be more troublesome than things said from careful thought. So when you see me and my clutch bag on the street don't ask me whats inside unless you're standing firmly on your feet cos heaven knows I probably wont want to know whats in yours.