I’ve been thinking a fair bit about how much of our existence is conditioned to focus on doing stuff and nearly not enough on being who we truly are. Or at least on the crucial need to get closer to it. I’ve come to believe that the former is actually a by-product of the latter, but our entire lives, for generations together, have been firmly taught to believe otherwise.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent to me (now that I steadfastly resist the urge to blindly do things in pursuit of outcomes and instead question them desired outcomes before I actually set out) that the answer to finding contentment in whatever experience I might find myself in or choose to put myself in, is to let the being guide the doing. Once I have that in place, a quiet, comforting sense of acceptance flows. The most suitable actions required of us, show up. The unlikeliest avenues open up.The doing just happens rather effortlessly. And all I have to do is just show up and be present.
I’ve also been wondering a lot about shame and self-loathing/self-hate. Where it comes from, how we respond to it, how we tread the blurry lines and how we sometimes come through on the other side. Natural by product of getting down and dirty in the dregs of who-am-I, really.
So much of it, stems from the avoidance of a state of discomfort. Much of it, whether it is about the way we look, the things we ought to be doing, the right ways to live our lives, stems from what we’ve been told we need to do (to avoid said discomfort), rather than being told to just be. Be, in a way that is true to the inner-most, deepest sense of self. It’s no wonder then that a majority of our adult lives is spent pursuing things that actually take us further away from it, even as we’re peddled the notion that as long as we’re successful, we’ll be happy. So seek, chase, keep doing things, get comfortable.
Then, I watched Nanette. And all the issues she throws up stood right in front of me like an army of knives waiting to attack. Most of all about identity and a sense of self — what must it be like to strip down all the bullshit one cultivates consciously and unconsciously while growing up on a steady diet of doing? What must it feel like to tear down the layers slowly, and get to the heart of one’s being? And to realise what’s in there looks nothing like what the world around considers “normal” is? What must it take to then accept that inner core of being nonetheless, and go out there and make art about it?
What then, does self-worth look like? And does acceptance and contentment have a ole to play in it? What can one do to cultivate it, embrace it, make it one’s own, apart from just letting it be?
So the show, I fucking loved it. But not in a typically gushy way. It made me super uncomfortable, and even though I took a while to get into it and only really got into it somewhere at the halfway mark when she turns it around on it’s head and it stops being funny, by the end of it I was totally cut open, completely worked up and crying uncontrollably.
Yeah, I loved it.
Aside from the way in which Hannah Gadsby subverts the very genre she has chosen as her art form, a how she turns a stand-up comedy show right on it’s head to a powerful piece of work that riveting because it is just not funny, I loved Nanette because it cut through and reached out and touched me deeply. Not in an obvious #relatable sense of the word, because Hannah speaks entirely from the margins, from a space so gray, you and I will struggle to sit with it. And yet, it is a space we can no longer afford to ignore.
It’s been a time of a lot of thinking about that inner sense of self, personally. And I’ve had to really examine a lot of things I just took for granted and fell into line with. The roles I play, my identity in each of them, even my sexuality and sense of self that comes from it. I’ve been quietly questioning what it is really, to be me. And of course not every answer is a hunky dory, peachy perfect one. It’s brought with it a fair bit of uncomfortable truths, some surprising revelations and yet, a lot of relief in just getting to the truth of this being. So, in that sense, Nanette really touched me in a way that most sharp, piercingly honest truths do.
The thing with discomfort though, all the gritty truths (ours as well as others) that make us uncomfortable, is that it is a crucial part of resettling. Of acceptance. And of contentment. Of being.