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The Weight

It's a dangerous business, Frodo going out of your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Rings

Chances are that you're in pain, and you don't even know it. There's a stiffness in your joints, and a pain in your neck, and a hole in your heart. And you are doing an outstanding job of ignoring it. It's easy to do. We try to do so many things, and those things are so fascinating and demanding of our attention, that before we know it, we've learned to stop looking at ourselves. The road calls, and we go. We can't see the cracks that are forming in our perfectly constructed facade, the one the we use so others don't know just how hard it really is, and which we strive so diligently to convey in the hopes maybe that this time, we just might fool ourselves. We forget about the majesty of sunrises and the mystery of full moons. We can't feel the ache in our shoulders from all of those times we should have been better to our bodies, but we just couldn't spare the time because we had to get to the next thing on the checklist. “Gotta get it done, gotta push it harder, go, go, go!”

And it's true, we do have to go, go, go. Nothing is accomplished if we don't do it for ourselves. But it's another thing to become a slave to the process, to allow the burden of our own workloads and expectations to wear us down, forgetting that we are real people, who need to eat real food, and get real rest, spend time with loved ones, and to occasionally, not do anything, as anathema as that might sound to some.

“An actor should practice relaxing his muscles; we tend to be too tense...When performing a single gesture, only the muscles necessary for the gesture should be used.”

-Constantin Stanislavski, An Actor Prepares

Here, I believe that Stanislavski is talking about the relaxaton of an actor's muscles within the practice of Acting; relaxtion under intense circumstances, such as a thousand people watching your every move, lots of delicate props, and no one calling 'cut!', is a necessary tool in the actors kit. But this emphasis on relaxation is expandable to a holistic self-reflextion applicable to anyone of any creative endeavor.

It's just that a lot of us don't do it.The question for our purpose here is: which “muscles” do I need to relax? Is my body in need of maintanence that I have been not tending to because I've been so focused on my work? Am I using it too much, and not caring for it, or am I using my body too little and not caring for it? How's my mind? Am I distracted? Anxious? Am I loathe to approach my work or personal life? What's the roadblock? And then, however miniscule the movement, however great the effort, start solving the issue. Feel it out, learn, take the time to be yourself. We have to attend to these obstacles in stride, even, and especially when things are stressful, and deadlines or setbacks rear their ugly heads. It is by this self-care that, rather than collapse under the weight of our respective loads, we can continue to tap whateer it is within ourselves in which we find the inspiration to create our work, and ultimately, to become the best version of ourselves that we can be. Otherwise, we burn the engine out. We let things slip. We compromise. When it is our work that suffers, it can be painful to compromise.

So push hard, stay hungry, but ocassionally, remember to be human.


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