Saturday, July 31, 2010

Advice/questions on learning?

10 years ago I took an intensive course in Hawaii. I hate it. I learned nothing that I had gone there to learn. But, out of the experience, I got a 18 page article I wrote, a 45 minutes solo show, a really good friend, and 1 word of good advice. On the last day, our teacher said to all of us, "When you go home to your loved ones, don't immediately break up with them because you've had an experience that they didn't have. They can't understand what you've just been through."

That was really good advice. And if you expand it, it works for a lot of situations. How many couples have broken up because, "I've changed, and they didn't change the same way."

I remember when I was 18, my boyfriend and I went off to different schools. There was no Skype, no cell phones, no digital cameras. We barely had phone access. I made him take a ton of photos of every person and every place he'd mention so I could picture it as he talked to me, or wrote to me. I didn't want us to break up because I had no frame of reference.

Every year, twice a year, I go to the Maine Media Workshop in Rockport, Maine to be an Actor-In-Residence. I go by myself, with friends, and finally last year, I got my boyfriend to go take a class at the same time. Every time I come home, I have PMD: Post Maine Depression. I have been doing nothing but acting, eating, creating, and having fun for a week. And then I have to go home to the real world and attempt to explain to people why I love it up there so much. I feel part of a community. I feel like a contributing valuable member of their society. I have nothing to do but relax and act on film for a week. So yeah, I come home, and want to break up. Every time. So it's great that my boyfriend came last year. Within a day he said, "yeah, I get it. I know why you love it here and keep coming back." I love taking friends there that come home and say, "that totally changed my life. And things will never be the same." It gives me more people in my life that have my frame of reference. It sounds like a cult! But it's just a really great, supportive, smart place to make photos and films.
Maine yin/yang

I've done a great deal of self help work in my life. I'm not perfect. Maybe I should stop trying to be perfect. But I won't stop reflecting, learning, and attempting to be the best person I can. I fail miserably sometimes at that, and I have a tough time forgiving myself. But at least I work on it.

Rockport harbor sunrise
Over the years, I've learned some communication tools, some coping mechanisms, some understandings. I constantly try to apply these skills when dealing with people. Sometimes it works, because they have a similar skill set. And sometimes, it doesn't. It only points out more differences between us. Along the way, I've lost friends and family because...I had an experience that they didn't. Does a person break up with members of their family because the person's had a learning experience that their family hasn't? Because suddenly, it's noticeable that their family doesn't take their feelings into consideration? Or do they except their family and friends for being the same people they always were? They their family/friends haven't changed, but YOU did?

I don't have answers. I have questions. But I know that I can't have an amazing experience, and then break up with everyone around me. At least, not right away, for the wrong reasons. So be careful on your learning journeys! Be patient. And please, remind me to be the same along the way. And...breathe.