Collaboration: Awesome or Crappy

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we talk to each other. Communication is a wacky thing. A friend pointed out recently that mental health is a spectrum. I suppose this is true of lots of things: success, contentment, taste, education, openness. I don’t know how it is for you but I find I go through periods where people are just barking at me. Maybe I have too much Vitamin D in my system and they have a bad reaction to that.

Putting any combination of people in close proximity is always an experiment. Things trigger other things in people and you might not be aware of it. Or you’re reacting out of nowhere about something and the other person is caught off guard. Or it’s all fine and no one’s upset about anything.

Dealing with people is a messy thing and you either embrace that or fight against it. There’s also a lot about what happens when ego gets in the middle of things. There’s a lot of craziness in theater because of the nature of the beast. Things go well out of randomness like it’s at the behest of the gods. Someone rockets into fame who has less skill or talent than someone else. A show is a smash because it touches on something at the moment that no one might care about 6 months in either direction. One style comes in or out, depending on X factors out of anyone’s control. An actress friend told me the other day about 30 years she’s spent in the business and how 1/6 of them were great years work-wise. What no one seems to get is that is doing really well in this.

People admire and then envy success if attained from hard work. We are suspicious of it achieved in other ways. We love a comeback and we want to destroy anything doing better than us for too long. I don’t know if it’s Caveman Brain or what but we can’t have someone be on top more than 6 seasons. South Park had a pretty brilliant episode in which Britney Spears was sacrificed to make the corn grow more heartily in the fields.

I think the times when I’ve caused the most trouble due to the rumbling tectonic plates inside is when I’ve felt ripped off because of my bruised ego and some out of control sense of entitlement. “What?! I can’t believe so-and-so got that part over me. I’ll show them!!” Then I act out in some weird way. It’s why I had to back off auditioning for a good while. It started becoming about something it wasn’t.

And that’s the big troublemaker when dealing with other people. Is the problem really about the situation at hand or is it about your stuff, my stuff, or the moon cycle? Once that is parsed out, you can deal with things with less hassle.

I spent years trying to practice good communication and positive assertiveness. I’ve tried to come to conclusions where both sides receive mutual benefits. People seem to take that as disingenuous. So now I make the best of something until it seems futile, I let myself feel disappointment, hurt, or anger and then I tell myself it’s time to detach.

There’s some religious teaching that uses the metaphor of eating at a table full of guests. As the food is passed around, you should pass the food to everyone else first and be thankful and happy for what you have left. If there’s nothing on the dish when it comes back you, you should be pleased that everyone else is content and nourished. Then there’s the religious teaching that says if you don’t care for yourself first, you won’t be able to care for others.

I’m very fortunate I have many good people in my life with whom I enjoy creating. I have an artistic agenda that keeps growing. I feel a small door to many new possibilities has been opened.