I spoke at MoMondays Toronto and it I had a great time. I wanted to post my speech since I got such positive feedback from it. Here it is:
Play On. Paint On. Write On. Create On. Continue to create that thing you do that makes you you. Even if it seems fruitless, even when there is no “good” reason. Even when it feels like you’re losing the game, going through the motions and trying not to drown. Dream On. Every time you look in the mirror and all those lines on your face are getting clearer. The past is gone. Yup I just paraphrased lyrics from Aerosmith and Carrie Underwood. I wanted you all in on where this talk is going, the point the reason why I am telling you my story
My dream was and is to make a career out of making stuff up. I wish to bring all the stories, characters and songs I’ve written over the years to life. I’ve had good experiences and not so good experiences in this quest. I had a good experience writing and producing a musical. I had a not-so good experience in the aftermath of this opportunity. The wake, if you will. I read a lot of Eckhart Tolle so instead of saying my ego I’m going to say the ego that poses as me turned this stop on my creative journey into the end all be all. My big break. The thing that would put me on the map. When this didn’t happen it lead to anger and despair of ‘losing the game’ and so I gave up on the things I loved the most like writing, improvising and music which caused me to lose my hair. That’s right, losing my creativity made me lose my hair. There are 3 ways I gave up on my creative aspirations.
- The first thing, of course, was that I personally don’t make that much money and so cutting out all the music lessons and improv and comedy classes seems like the logical thing to do, on paper. How many of you never signed up for those guitar lessons because it wasn’t in your budget?
- The other thing is that when you go to school for “the thing” – you know drawing or acting or writing – and then you learn how to do “the thing” the next step is that you want to get paid to do “the thing” and when that doesn’t happen it would seem the only way to keep doing ‘the thing’ is to keep taking classes which is an affront to your ego which is smart, it read The War of Art and it wants to be a professional and a professional person gets paid.
- The third reason is that I was frustrated, discouraged, disappointed and mad even that my creative vision wasn’t fully realized and/or received. Too much spoof. Not enough depth. Lost in the joke – which is the story of my life. I was hard on myself. Hoping for the results in the first run of the show. And as Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong once said: “It takes two years before a show becomes great”
So anyway, I gave up. I tried to pretend that losing my creativity was not all that important to me. My body would tell me other wise as my hair started to fall out and I was dizzy and tired all the time. Think of the Simpson’s episode when Sherry Bobbins comes to town to rescue a stressed out Marge Simpson who is losing her hair.
And now a seamless transition from Simpsons reference to poignant eckhart tolle quote.
“Life is the dancer and you are the dance”. Eckhart Tolle
“Love is the rhythm and you are the music” Pink
Creativity is the love and the love is you and you are the vision. Me, Alexandra Lean (the person speaking)
Losing my hair became worrisome since test result after test result came back normal which made my fear and anxiety grow as I tried to figure out what was going on. Side story time with a point: I binged watched everything on television including the show ‘House, MD’. In case you are unfamiliar with the show it is the story of the most brilliant doctors in the world – genius’ if you will – who don’t know anything about what’s wrong with their patients. For any person who is going through any type of health issue the show is actually kind of a horror movie because the show is a series of wild guesses and life ruining organ transplants. For example, on a hunch Dr. House removes a patients liver, did it work? No!? What? Why!
The thing I realized while watching this is that sometimes doctors don’t have all the answers. So I started to think about what had changed from when I was healthy to when I started feeling sick and intuitively I knew that it was the elimination of the creative things from my life. From that moment onward I started to reconnect with music, writing and improv and my hair grew back. Look at my hair now (super cheesy hair toss) Michel, eat your heart out. (He’s the bald man that runs the event)
It hasn’t been easy to get myself to the point where I could allow myself to create, to dream, to play. It’s like that Michael Jackson song Man in the Mirror if you want to make the world a better place take a look in the mirror and make that change cause it’ll feel real good and it’ll make a difference. Yup I paraphrased the heck out of that one and took the parts that fit the best.
There are a bunch of song lyrics that go something along the lines of:
“It’s a long road when you face the world alone,
No one reaches out a hand for you to hold” Mariah Carey, Hero or
“It’s so hard to stand your ground when you’re so afraid /
no one reaches out a hand for you to hold” The Voice Within by Xtina Aguilera…it’s Christina but I was a fan when she decided to call herself Xtina so I feel I can call her that.
I’d like to say let creativity be the love that reaches inside a hand for you to hold so that when times get tough creativity can be the path back to the present moment.
I’d like to end on a poignant Eckhart Tolle quote :
“You can only lose something you have, but you cannot lose something that you are”
But I’m going to end on a pokerfaced Lady Gaga quote:
I just want to be myself and I want you to know I am my hair I’m the spirit of my hair. I’m as free as my hair.