Once, at a gig in Acton, I was threatened with physical violence by another act. Rather than just responding with a pre-emptive thumping of him myself, I was exceedingly British and apologised for whatever unknown to me thing that I had done to upset him. However, it transpired that that upset was caused by my having been born, as he hates me for being “posh” – tough gig!
You cannot please all the people all the time, and I know that my aim of doing so is, to a degree, a failure. I am learning to “hold on to my shit”, as those brilliant people at the Annoyance Theatre would say. That means, to me, to be honest in my reactions, to believe in my choices, and then to commit to those choices. Of course, to start that and be honest in my reactions, I have to relearn that aspect of my personality that was euthanased by a traditional British upbringing. I have to learn to listen to my emotions, accept them, let them in, let them affect me, and then let the boiling concoction of me plus the new experiences of these overwhelming sensations, overflow into action. And I have to trust myself to do so.
This trust in myself is scary prospect. I have a lifetime behind me where every expression of emotion was considered weakness and error. The muscles in my upper lip are stiff enough to be licensed as an Olympic diving platform. A firm barrier upon my mouth, preventing any sounds from emerging that might embarrass. Let not a whimper pass, for a whimper may unleash that dam and flood the world in front of me with its deluge. Let not that crisis emerge until mid life. Posh young Brits only suck their thumbs to block that hole until the facial concrete is fully set.
And yet, trust myself and my reactions is what I want to do. I have heard the truth emerge from my own mouth and others, and it is brilliant, it is open, it allows real connection. Sure, I still have a weird relationship with pain, a sensation I choose to believe to be a lie, merely a wound making a complaint, the physical being too emotional, how dare it. But happiness is so much more enjoyable when it is accepted, allowed to coat the soul in a film of comfort and smiles, and reflect back onto the world in my own personal physical and verbal interpretation. Even sadness, anger, fear, surprise and disgust are more fulfilling when felt. Hatred unleashed is devastating, yet it has its own beauty when harnessed. Even, and I know some of you with lips similarly trained to mine, will find this hard to accept, the sensation of love.
Love is a wonderful emotion. It can be enormous and tiny, I can feel it for myself and for others, I can allow myself to be aware of all that I love around me or just allow that love to exist and be my cot. But love is, of course, the most dangerous of emotions. Allow love into your heart and you allow your heart to both be strong but also to open, and an open heart is vulnerable to attack. Yet, the opposite of an open heart, or in fact any heart closure, is a devastating closure to the world, turning the heart into a ghetto of memories and ghosts, a place unfed by the fresh food of unpasteurised feeling, preferring the tinned variety for its safety.
Well, let me scream to you, you are right, there is a safety in eating tinned love, but tinned food contains none of the nutrients, the tastes, the life of the real thing! Stay inside and have your world lit by Edison’s solar substitute, that way you will never catch cancer, or come outside and play in the sunshine, run around, fall over, get back up again. Be wild. Be free.
I reject the attitude of holding it back. I now realise that to live life, I must experience it. They always say that you get out of life what you put in. I say, putting in our hearts is the essence of what life truly is, and the more open my heart grows, the stronger it becomes, the more powerful the feelings it is able to feel and express, and more I get to exist and experience. And I hope, this is something that I can also offer others.
Sounds kind of hippy? Hell, chuck me a flower, they clearly got something right.
And that, my friends, is improv.