Happiness – A Myth?

A couple of nights ago I saw Hans Teeuwen in the Soho Theatre. For those unfamiliar with Hans: he is a Dutch theater maker who has an absurdist kind of stand-up comedy , who is also a very accomplished piano player. His sense of humour is crass, rude and sometimes borderline wrong. It is not for the faint-hearted or easily offended.

Watching him do his show, I laughed a lot, cringed only a couple of times and mostly admired his work. He is a strange man: at times crude and harsh in his words, then he will happily skip and push his longish hair back behind his ear. He sings, he pretends not to be able to play the piano and out of chaos emerges his genius.  He plays with words, his physicality; he rolls over the floor gets himself stuck in chairs, loses his microphone; makes a joke at the expense of the technician who comes to save him and carries on.

Sometimes I find him a little too crude; getting a(n uncomfortable) laugh is just too simple. Still there is no denying it: that man is a great entertainer. Why is he good at what he does? Because he stands there unapologetically. He completely stands there showing us his craft, no doubts no awkwardness. His whole body, his whole being knows he stands there in front of an audience and he knows he is good at it, you can see he believes in it. The fact it is all an act is only revealed when he gets up from the piano and bows. Briefly he drops the entertainer part and enjoys the recognition as a man with talent.

His performance showed that despite art being subjective, quality is not; you might not like his style but he is good at what he does. Still, success is 10% talent and 90% hard work and he has definitely put his hours in. I realised that real hard work is only done when you really want something and I had to remind myself that it is ok if that something is wanting to be a writer and a performer.

Let’s face it, it is not going to save lives and I will not make a significant mark on the world per se. It is also not easy to get into and I have become used to the fact that I can pay my rent every month. With this wonderful dream comes a lot of insecurity (and yet: also that tempting freedom.)  I have had a million conversations with my mother on this subject and last week at home she admitted that despite her motto over the years: Just Believe In Yourself, ironically enough she doesn’t actually believe it herself. She doesn’t think that an unfaltering self-believe alone is going to cut it. She pointed out that there are so many other factors that play a part in succeeding, it might not be for my own lack of trying – it might just be other things that prevent success from happening. She also didn’t understand why I always had to keep aiming for the stars, only to end up disappointed over and over again. Couldn’t I just join an (amateur) dramatics group and enjoy playing with them? Keep it on the side, maybe in time things could grow from it. Whilst I appreciate her sentiment and I guess need or want to protect me, I find her philosophy hard to accept.

In fact: as much as I love my mother, I feel that this time around she is wrong.

Happiness is not a myth, I can see it around me in other people every day. Wanting to do something with your life other than it just happening to you, is not a sin. Aiming for the stars is not wrong, why should I settle for a mediocre version of own my life if it has potential for so much more? Self believe is not futile as the aforementioned conversation shows: literally no one else will do it for you.

This is my life, it is my dream and though I might still not know exactly how to get there: I am tired of apologising for it.

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