Searching for peace/Finding peace.
By Alan Winner (Performer, Writer, Director)
I can hear the gas burner heating the copper kettle on the kitchen stove. I have just lit two lavender incense cones which the fan above my head wafts through the room, clinging to my clothing, and wandering by my nose.
My singing bowl is within arm’s reach and closer still is a simple hook-and-ring game my dad made… now the kettle is screaming…
Off the flame, I loop the string around the handle of my mug so it doesn’t fall in as I pour the boiling water - dark now, as the Earl Grey steeps in. Two distinct aromas are in the room that moments ago felt empty and uninspiring. Moments ago I was staring at a blank Word document with no ideas in my head. The screen of my Mac scoffed as it busily offered distractions ranging from social media to pornography.
I closed the maddening Mac and withdrew my Smith-Corona SKYRITER, a travel-sized typewriter I picked up from a consignment shop in New Hampshire. Now, these words have loosened from my mind and my fingers are finding the keys to tell my story.
What most of us are seeking is fulfillment. We try and try to make all the right calls and to be busy, busy, busy to prove our worth. With such constant demand for performance, where do we turn for peace?
I attach to icons that I’ve collected through the years. Not necessarily religious icons, though I do have a couple likenesses of Siddhartha because of my personal connection to the Herman Hesse novella of the same name. I have constructed a little shrine for myself with pieces of my past. The story of where I’ve been is written in these objects I keep in front of me.
There are clouds out today, blocking my sun, but I light a candle instead of switching on a light, because I prefer to watch the wax run. I purchased the candle from a witch’s shop in Salem, but I forgot what it is meant to mean… so to me, it is just a candle. I hope I am not inadvertently casting some kind of spell.
Or is that precisely what I am trying to do? Am I not casting my own quiet spell on myself to keep my fingers typing? That which was not a moment ago, now is, and can only be undone by destroying the paper that holds the ink. As I removed the previous page from my typewriter, I came dangerously close to singeing the paper and turning my work to ash.
Clearly, the transitory nature of art interests me, or I would no longer seek out live performance opportunities. I do not sculpt in bronze, I form ideas into words and string them together into fictional stories designed for players to perform. My foundation is in live theatre, because the Theatre requires that you be present.
Being present in this moment is the only way to have the courage to move on to the uncertain moments ahead. We keep saying we want more certainty in our careers, but isn’t it the uncertainty that keeps us interested?
“The quality of my life is directly proportionate to the amount of uncertainty I can comfortably live with.” -Tony Robbins
When I feel like I have nothing to write about, I dive into my uncertainties and explore them on the page. Even if I didn’t think my writing was marketable, I would still write. We should all write. Write and then go back to look at what you’ve written… a day later… a month later… ten years later… Having a record of your thoughts is the best way to escape the feeling of ownership they can have on you.
Finding your own peaceful spot to surround yourself with peaceful influences will allow your brain to calm down and process all the experiences you’ve had in a way that will be useful for you to move forward. A place where you can’t be wrong because the only person to judge you is you. Peace can seem illusive until it simply isn’t anymore. Once you find what works for you, peace can come in an instant.
ALAN WINNER co-wrote and starred in his one-man show The Boy Who Loved Bassey. He is currently writing the screenplay for Kitchen, scheduled to shoot this Summer. www.alanwinner.com
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