Saturday, May 4, 2013

creating a/broad, May 4, 2013

Forced to stop
by Cameryn Moore

Was talking with a friend of mine last night, he’s a producer of spoken-word events and a prolific poet and performer in his own right, and man, he was bumming hard. He had just celebrated a major anniversary for his signature monthly performance event, and then two days later he got a text from the venue saying they were closing up shop, sorry, no space next month. No warning, no hints a month beforehand, just “see ya later”.

The event was supposed to have happened last Sunday, and he told me he just couldn’t stay still. He went to three different events, and visited relatives he hadn’t visited in months, and did lots of errands. He woke up early and went to bed late and stayed busy the entire Sunday. He couldn’t bear to be still. “It felt so weird,” he said, and I just put my hand on his shoulder.

It was the sympathy of one performance addict for another, when the source of bliss—torment, yes, and bliss more—has been taken from you.

I’ve written before about the fallow times, about the quiet spaces, about the sabbaticals and hiatuses and breathing room. That is not this. That is intentional, directed, self-instigated and therefore powerful. No, what he and I were talking about is random, external, and therefore leaving one feeling powerless.

I, as a producer of events myself, feel moments like this like a sledgehammer to the gut. 

We could all get SO MUCH DONE if we did not have to deal with the cursed vagaries of the market economy, of other people’s bullshit, of accidental overbooking, of the weather, of acts of terrorism, of bar owners and their shitty financial practices, for example. This all sucks. We’ve all been there, usually more than once. 

If you’re the producer type, this particularly strikes a blow at something deep in your personality. Let me rephrase that, because I think, but I am by no means sure, that the producer personality can be this easily generalized. 

I, as a producer of events myself, feel moments like this like a sledgehammer to the gut. 

In a line of work where there is ALWAYS something that I can do, something to fix, something to set up, the next show to push and pimp, the next posters to put up, the next script or poem or dance to be wrangled to the ground and then picked up and put into our bodies… in this line of work, because I am the way I am, the pipeline is always, always full. To bursting. It is a steady stream, a river of events that sometimes feels that it is only moving along by sheer force of my resolve.

When something happens to that flow, when something outside of me blocks it or diverts it, the sudden lessening of pressure is gut-wrenching. Never mind the hurt of the actual event; I’m talking about the heavy hollowness that lands like a stone in the middle of my dayplanner and spreads ripples of loss through the rest of my life. 

occasionally things are not as bleak as they seem; I can do something about it

Okay, occasionally I welcome the break, acknowledging that yes, maybe I should sit back and relax a little. And occasionally things are not as bleak as they seem; I can do something about it. But when it is, in actual fact, a force at work outside of myself, a force so vast or far away from myself that there is no way I can wrench that river back on track, fill up the yawning spaces on my own… well, that feels terrible.

I suppose if I didn’t have so many events, if I didn’t feel so driven to do things, then the pipeline wouldn’t be so incredibly under pressure and then the loss of one project or another wouldn’t feel significant. But I am not interested in letting go, taking it down a notch. I get these ideas, and that’s who I am. I’m a producer and I get shit done.

Except when I can’t. Except when the ability to get shit done is completely out of my hands. The shit is in some other hands, and my hands are empty and grasping, and I don’t know what to do with myself. Yes, of course, find other stuff to do. BUT IT’S NOT GOING TO BE THE STUFF THAT I WANTED TO DO. Or, “you know, try doing nothing for a little bit. You’re always so busy! Just take a break.” 

I’d love to, but when the break takes me, that’s a different story.

I don’t know that there’s a moral to this, a take-away for me to remember when someone kicks over my bucket and there’s nothing I can do. I certainly didn’t try to hand my friend any platitudes. Sometimes it just sucks. There is no planning for this; when an act of God or someone else’s bad financial planning drops a dam on your river, you pick your way along the suddenly empty riverbed and stumble along in the same direction, I guess, and hope that the pressure breaks the dam eventually and you will get your river back.

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