Suffice to say I was in need of some strong medicine. Something to take the edge off, realizing how many talents, skills and joys I not so much “lost”, but that I no longer have access to, since the start of the pandemic. Some of them whicha comedian illustrating how complicated or impossible things are once you have kids, would qualify as: “Things that you don’t even consider to be things will become nearly impossible. Like leaving the house!”
Me leaving the house is not hampered by children not knowing where their shoes are, but by things like not sleeping, waking up sick every morning, and having social events being punishable by migraines.
But indeed; Things that you didn’t even know were things, like sitting indoors in a group, and knowing you could be paying by ten days of quarantine for this debauchery. Things like that.
I now understand how older people go from no longer driving at night time and quitting cycling out of fear, to hardly crossing the city border, in a very, very short time. I get it.
But I have decades ahead of me. Decades I do not intend to spend frickin’ tiptoeing around my health. And I ALSO do not intend to spend them mending what was broken or recovering from what took me out.
I want it over and I don’t want to study, look back, nor give having had the mobility (as in travel) and resilience of someone sick or geriatric, attention ever again.
These lines of thought are not new, but what I have found is that I have been lacking vision of what I am working towards. Only what I am moving away from.
And I mean on a personal level, because on a professional level I do know what my future looks like, and although it allows me free choice how I want to work, and I could do it all online; I don’t want that.
I want to be free to travel the world. And not just on a good day.
So that brings me to the second part of the decision; I also want to get rid of the “good” habits, and of the truckload of unfulfilled resolutions, that I think I should have in place to “get well”. Quotation marks means that about a decade ago or something, I saw a Dutch meme somewhere along the lines of: “You’re back on your feet when you can do all the stuff that’s bad for you”.
In other words: I do not want to micromanage myself out of this health crisis, only to then have to go to bed early, watch my caffeine intake and be careful with workload for the rest of my life. So that IS a decision I made today: No more tiptoeing and micromanaging. They are banned.
I also remembered how inspiring Lenny Kravitz is, and that’s why I used his picture with this article. He lives in the Bahamas and frequently posts to social media, but gave a longer interview with Men’s Health last year. Lenny Kravitz’s Guide to Immortality Contrary to me, he does have a very strict diet and works out three times a day to support his physique, but that doesn’t prevent me from being inspired by what he says about aging and working out with his trainer:
“We always have a goal in front of us. My best shape is not behind me. It’s in front of me right now. We keep moving that bar as we get older.”
And although just like Lenny, changing my physique is definitely part of what I am going to do to bounce back from these past 18 months, and use those months as a springboard, it wasn’t so much the physical aspect of the quote that struck me most. It was its potential to be not just body changing, but life changing.
And then and there I made the decision, that; Yes, I was gonna bounce back from this. Yes, I was gonna stop micromanaging my health. Yes, I was committing myself to a new career and a new body. But mostly?
I would go on knowing that my best life was not behind me. My best life was not in 2019 before the pandemic started. Not in 2007 when my new life as a single started. Not in 2003 when I started my career as a yoga teacher.
And it wasn’t even in the early 90s when I was a radiant rock fan, who went to concerts fearlessly, alone, and who one night found herself in a hotel bar with Lenny Kravitz kneeling beside her and asking her her sign.
It wasn’t even then.
My sign is Leo. My shoes are on my feet. And my best life is ahead.
I’ve been single for 15 years, and before that I was in relationships for even longer. But one thing I never did, was working ON those relationships. They just happened. And that was fine.
But when I noticed a dynamic where I both had been and was still, let’s say “not chosen”, by men I would love to spend my life with; AND I saw them happily heading for other women and other relationships where I could immediately see, I was not gonna do all that, I started thinking….
And although my intention when I became single 15 years ago had been to create an exciting love life with (a series of) multiple men, and not to improve on my relationships because they had been extremely good, I found myself in kind of a post-doc trajectory on this journey which had been to become good at being single.
A post-doc trajectory of what kind of relationship would follow on that.
After finding out exactly what made for a great life as a single, filled with love, affection, and some heartbreak too of course, but really great and exactly what I had been looking for. I was now PhD-ing on the next level of that.
If a man wanted to go next level with me, what did I have to offer?
If it was not everything I saw around me, where – in my opinion – the women were working their butts off to make the relationship work and the men were just hanging out in their lives until they got sick of it and then they behaved so badly they were basically thrown out?
What was the alternative?
If I didn’t want to be in a relationship where a guy could be so passive he didn’t even have to show up to break up because even that was something I (the woman) would do: Then how to start?
And it was on that quest that the Baby Koala Relationship emerged.
It is so good, that once you ve read this article, not only will you want one; You ll also be totally okay if you don’t, and if the man or woman of your dreams chooses somebody else. Your desire for a non-koala relationship may have entirely evaporated, and you can easily let him or her go.
I mean of course, we’re always happy for them right? In an altruistic, Christian way of knowing that they should follow their heart and wishing them well. But in this case I mean, that you’ll actually think: “Thank God, he or she did not choose me! Because I want a Baby Koala Relationship and that’s not what he or she is offering! Now at least I have a chance of getting that.”
The Baby Koala Relationship is so good, that you’ll wholeheartedly want that or nothing at all.
The model of the Baby Koala Relationship is not finished, rounded off, and not systematized to the last detail. And I may revisit it in the future. But I think it is so important that I should not wait until it’s “done”.
. Which also has to do with something that is not directly related to this, but in a broader sense I have decided as a writer or more accurately, as a blogger, to just run with letting THIS writing be my work and my art. For this blog, my other blogs and my alter-ego will be just as important as well.
. That the entire idea of writing or even composing books from existing material, is just so static. I ll make books made from my art, but the raw, day-to-day, fresh art comes first. So we’re not waiting for the book or the book-format-y form of explaining the Baby Koala Relationship, and we’re just gonna fly right now, today, with what we do know.
– end of disclaimer-
The Baby Koala Relationship consists of two people: – one baby koala (daily form) / adult playmate when having a date with the caregiver. The submissive. – one caregiver (daily form) / charmer and strong lover when having a date with the koala. The dominant.
. You can compare it to the top and the bottom in gay relationships, or the dominant and the submissive in S&M relationships. It’s an agreement between two consenting adults, on the basic dynamics of their relationship. It simplifies their lives and adds tremendous joy to being together because it eliminates or greatly reduces the amount of nessecary communication.
You can now also see, for whom this relationship model is NOT satisfactory, and that is for people who want to communicate about their relationship. For whom the tuning in to the dynamics of the day (who’s the strong one today? who’s the selfish one? what needs correcting? what needs adding? what’s something to look out for?), is the glue that holds the relationship together.
The Baby Koala Relationship does not have glue, the material cannot tear, and once attached to each other you cannot break it apart by refraining from daily touch ups. It’s sturdy as hell.
. It’s like two different parts that are a perfect fit, and screwed together with bolt and nut. .
This is another great analogy: A Baby Koala Relationship can be UNscrewed, and then attached in another Baby Koala Relationship. And you can do this as often as you like. Whereas if you glue things together, and then take them apart, both parts could get damaged easily..
. The everyday life of the Baby Koala and the Caregiver, revolves around the daily care of the Baby Koala. The Baby Koala, perhaps unsurprisingly, blossoms when it feels loved, and there is clarity. Life must be predictable, and you must ask the Baby Koala simple questions, the same way you do to a toddler.
For example: You’re on a holiday with your Baby Koala, and the Baby Koala is typing furiously on their laptop. Or they are drawing or painting. You can see that they are deeply submerged in their art. But it’s been over three hours since the Baby Koala ate, and you want to go on a city trip in the afternoon. You now say: “Do you want cheese on your omelet?”
These 7 (!) words, are all the communication you need to tell the Baby Koala: – that you’re going to lunch – and when you’re going to lunch – that it’s time to wrap up If after lunch your Baby Koala says they want to finish something, you can agree on that. Or, alternatively, you can offer to take the city trip by yourself and leave the Baby Koala with its creative endeavors in the afternoon. Baby Koalas are not companions who join you for your pleasure, but they’ll gladly join if they’re free. You must give them a choice though.
So the key to taking care of a baby koala is to offer choice, but do not ask open questions about the day to day things.
This sounds like easy communication but it illustrates a caregiver should not ask a baby koala things like: – when are you finished with your art – when do you want to have lunch – do you even want to have lunch – what do you want for lunch
But: “Do you want cheese on your omelet?”
And then the baby koala will answer, “Yummy lunch! Yes! I am SO hungry!” or “Yummy lunch! No, thank you no cheese. I m SO hungry!”
The baby koala is the most appreciative partner you could ever imagine.
. The sex life of this couple is separated from normal life, although this does not have to mean that they plan it. It is possible that the dynamics shift, during everyday life; Where one changes the dynamics to mature, exciting, playful, as an open invitation to see if the other joins.
Another alternative to setting a date night, would be to use Whatsapp, and send a sexy message. These messages are initiated by the caregiver, and are sent because she or he picks up on a vibe or feeling, a hunch, with regard to the baby koala. Or because he or she is inspired to make a sexual suggestion.
However, and this is super super important, sex is never suggested by the caregiver because he or she wants sex or feels entitled to have sex. The reality is this: Sex is just an expression of the caregiver taking extremely good care of his or her baby koala.
–>>>> A caregiver is therefor a man or woman who wants to conquer his partner time and time again.
And a baby koala is someone who wants to be conquered, over and over again. <<<<<-
So to say daily life and sexuality are “separated” means that there is no flirting or sex when they are in baby koala/ caregiver mode.
However “sexy” dates, time when they come out of this mode, are MANDATORY! But not for the reason you think.
For a safe baby koala caregiver relationship to work, it is very important that they both stay in check with their own sexual adventurous nature.
So when a couple has a date night, the purpose of that is that they support each other in their sexuality. What turns them on, what things would they like to try? What did they see on the internet that gave a physical reaction?
Date night can mean that it looks like a regular date, where there is flirting, and the attention is very much with each other, ultimately leading to sex.
But the purpose is much broader;
Sexual time for this couple, or date night, means that it are the moments when both can be in their true sexual power, and can grow in their desires and what they want out of life. Including their sexual lives.
Date night, or the sexual moments are when the two partners claim their individuality, their true strength; And are comfortable acknowledging that they are ultimately both free beings.
They say the reason sex is so good at the beginning of a relationship, and often withers away after that, is because sex needs separation, in order to be good. If the two are already one, there cannot be good sex.
Date night and the sexual moments are there to honor and celebrate separation, and the strengths of two adults.
non-exclusivity/ sex with other people
1. for the caregiver
I don’t think it needs any explanation that in particular the caregiver is entitled to their nights out, and other partners on the side! Ha ha ha. I mean, good riddance! Constantly paying attention to what the baby koala needs in terms of food, sleep, and if it doesn’t get overstimulated, that really requires some downtime when you can be your adult self.
In order to do this, there must be clarity towards the baby koala about when the caregiver is gone, for how long he or she will be gone, and when he or she is coming back. And there must be a protocol the baby koala should follow when the caregiver does not return at said time.
. In terms of Whatsapp conversations and so on, with other partners or interests, it is very important not to bring those dynamics into the relationship with the baby koala.
Great emotional hygiene is asked of the caregiver: They can have their other partners, but the daily attention must be with the baby koala.
When the caregiver returns from their time with other people, it is soothing for the baby koala if it can take care of the caregiver. Again; The way children make breakfast for their parents. So don’t expect the baby koala to have conversations with you, helping you articulate your feelings or such.
But if you say that you will probably be tired when you get home, and ask the baby koala to help out preparing the lunch and letting you take a little nap in the afternoon, you will find him or her eager to take care of you.
. Be specific in your requests, and the baby koala will take care of you with the same love and devotion that you have been taking care of them..
2. for the baby koala
. The dating life of the baby koala looks entirely different to that of the caregiver. It can best be compared to the way children have play dates: Anything can happen, and these dates are about growth as much as they are about pleasure.
The caregiver supports the baby koala in his or her path of growth, which requires flexibility and wisdom. You could say that the growth for the caregiver is much more in supporting the baby koala with his or her sex life, than through experiencing their own.
Baby koalas are emotional melting pots where all kinds of expected and unexpected stuff can happen. They may run home crying and need immediate support, or they could text you that they would like to stay a few extra days.
As predictable and reliable the caregiver needs to be in communicating his or her out-the-door sexuality; That is how all over the place you can expect the sex life of the baby koala to be. And again, emotional hygiene of the caregiver is what is going to save the day. Be clear. Do not project your own emotions on the baby koala, but think about what is healthy for him or her or be very clear on your boundaries.
For example: If the baby koala wants to stay on his or her date longer, but you are stressed out because you have been on call for your baby koala for 24 hours, you can tell or text the baby koala: “I’m so happy you re having such a good time! You can stay, but I will not be able to meet you then when you get home. You can also make a new date with him or her next weekend.”
The Four Tendencies
There is a book and a system from Gretchen Rubin. It is called “The Four Tendencies”, and it divides into four groups. It’s about how you deal with expectations.
There is: – the Upholder, responds to outer and inner expectations – the Obliger, responds to outer expectations. The Obliger needs to externalize inner expectations (accountability) in order to meet them – the Questioner, responds to inner expectations. The Questioner needs to internalize external expectations (ask why questions, collect data) in order to meet them – the Rebel, responds to neither outer nor inner expectations
How to handle the baby koala is similar to how to handle a Rebel, by what Gretchen Rubin describes as the three C’s: – clarity You communicate without judgement, double layers, but most of all without expectations – choice You give them the choice to stay away longer now or postpone to next weekend. – consequence You tell him or her you won’t be home if they stay away longer now.
I think the caregiver of this relationship, would be an Obliger; The baby koala gives the external accountability the Obliger needs, but will never take advantage of Obliger’s tendency to give too much.
It is much harder for an Obliger to not fall into the trap of giving too much, when he or she deals with Questioners and Upholders, than with a Rebel or a baby koala. A Rebel or baby koala does not add onto the pile of expectations the Obliger feels from the outside world.
It can be very soothing for an Obliger to just have one person, one furry being, to focus on. The positive complementary relationship between Obligers and Rebels is described in the book The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin.
. As I come to the end of this first blogpost about this relationshipmodel, I realize more than ever there is so much to be said about this relationship. So many good stuff, about all the problems and traps it avoids!
And I could also write equally much about its limitations. About all the situations where this model is not going to work.
But when I started this, I knew it would and could only be broad strokes. Only be the first of something that would probably spark many more posts, and who knows will be a book one day.
But I think that this blogpost, will be enough for the ones who it is for. And they will have a place to start.
If there is something I regret decluttering, it’s a journal I never quite found the right purpose for. It was called Love and Lust, and it was written by Susie Bright. Even though I loved its red cover and journaling cues, every attempt to use it stranded after a few weeks. Upon which I cut out the pages I had used, I archived them, and stored the journal until I was inspired for a new project.
But after this week, not only would I have known the perfect way to use it, which is to turn it into a sex gratitude journal; I would also understand that journals like this do not have to be used, in order to have value.
That journals like Love and Lust are valuable just for reminding you that life is there to be lived FULLY.
Something which can NOT be said of regular gratitude journals. But let me explain.
This week I bought a Dutch gratitude journal. It was an impulse purchase at the checkout, simply because I could not resist its faux leather teal cover. Maybe because there was a teal colored faux-leather gap in my life, now that I had moved the Deluxe edition of a Christian book “Fervent”, to my pile of books I would be selling. I had loved the teal faux leather Fervent Deluxe cover. But although my work is deeply rooted in unconditional love, acceptance and turning the other cheek; A Christian I am not.
And without having left the premises, it created this gaping hole for the next faux leather teal colored book, with which I would get an equally ambivalent relationship.
Because when I was home I opened my gratitude journal, still unpacking my groceries. In between stocking my spare box of kitty litter at the bottom of a cupboard, and putting two large containers of strawberries in the fridge, I mentally started going over the damage of not being able to do the rest of my day’s planning. This journal needed immediate work. It was a stationary emergency.
So I got to work, starting by selecting a magazine to use for clippings. Which one would I choose? A yoga glossy? A magazine for slow living? And then I noticed a sex magazine I bought years ago.
It had been one of the magazines that wanted an interview with my alter-ego, who writes a lot about sex. Only to then reveal the real request was to photograph me half-naked. When the magazine came out with my peers who had accepted the offer, I had bought it.
I figured this lacy, sexy, magazine, was the right man for the job! And got to work.
For 90 minutes I cut and pasted. I covered two pages of how you can make tooth brushing into an experience of gratitude. Pages with 30 tips on how to be more grateful . Pages with 100 tips how to be more grateful! Good Lord! How many more boring tips could this author come up with?
I covered every time it asked me: What I had learned. How I could see the bright side. How I could stay still and let a meditative state of wonder fill my heart.
And I covered them with drawings from threesomes, tongues, leather coats worn by naked women. I covered them with women wearing red lipstick, wearing a captain’s cap, wearing a black military-style cap. I covered it with women running free, naked, over the beach.
The book came with a sticker, and after cutting off the website’s name (something about positive thinking dot nl, I think) I studied the text that was on it.
You will be surprised how far you can still go, after what you think is your limit.
. I took the seals off and stuck the sticker on my two pages with S&M inspired goodies. Surprise me, indeed.
And as I worked I wondered why this was so important to me.
Why was everybody satisfied not just leading a mediocre life, where they were not just putting up with it, not just allowing it – because those were things I DID understand and fully sympathized with! –
But why were they actually CULTIVATING it?
That was question number one.
But the other question was: Why was I absolutely, wholeheartedly, not having any of it?
Why was I certain I would be finishing off my very soul, if I allowed for tooth brushing to be the gratitude highlight of my day?
And then it hit me: “Oh! Wait a minute! This journal is for people who are not artists!”
People who do not live to CREATE. Instead they live to do two things.
Either build, which is creation but it is bounded creation. Building is creation within the limits of what you can control and then controlling it.
. Creators ride the wave, having some idea of where it’s going, but ultimately accepting that it could kill them, have them, hurt them, but they ll be damn’t if they didn’t ride it!
Builders will only ride the wave if they know where it will take them.
Or alternatively, these non-artists, non-creators live to sustain.
. Their dominant is a sustaining energy. They make sure that relationships, property, companies, people, stay in good shape by nourishing them, cleaning them, maintaining them. The sustainers are the glue that holds the entire world together.
When people say that the world is falling apart, what they mean is: The sustainers can no longer do their work.
And the reason the sustainers cannot do that, is either because the builders build too much, too much to be sustained. Compare it to customer service, which is the sustainer side of manufacturing/ creating software or products. Or they can no longer do their sustaining work because resources have become too scarce.
But the artist is not part of this part of society. The artist does not belong to either the builders, nor to the sustainers..
The artist’s first need is to create.
. And there are only two sources of creation in this world, only two things the artist can turn to for inspiration . The two sources who create as well. The artist can turn to God. Or the artist can turn to sex.
The artist, however, cannot turn to tooth brushing.
As my gratitude journal came together I realized that this should be my sex gratitude journal. And that this probably did not just go for me, but for everybody who is a creator.
. We are under constant siege from the builders trying to make us part of their plans to build. And we’re threatened by the sustainers pledging that since we are so resistant to making a life’s work out of being of service to others; If we can please stop creating such a mess?
Can we please stop our disruptive, creative work?
Your sex gratitude journal, is where you write three things every day, that were spontaneous, not planned. Things that took over your life, your agenda, your hands, your mind, your body.
Three things that swept you off your feet with urgency. Three moments you were overtaken by God, desire, sex. Three moments when you remembered who you ARE and what you came to do here on this earth.
Three moments when you realize that the answer to the question – if you could just be more of a builder – or more of a sustainer – or if that’s not possible, if you could please stop adding to the mess?
“If I ever have to cast an acting role, I want the wrong person for the part.
I can never visualize the right person in a part.
The right person for the right part would be too much.
Besides, no person is every completely right for any part, because part in a role is never real,
so if you can’t get someone who’s perfectly right, it’s more satisfying to get someone who’s perfectly wrong. Then you know you’ve really got something.”
Yesterday was a biggie for me, as I pulled myself out of Alice’s rabbit hole, and back through the looking glass, and into the real world. As described in yesterday’s post.
What I didn’t mention was that it was my second post of the day, the muse was incredibly intense in its presence. Or prolific. The other post was a Dutch one under a pen name, about my conscious decision to get vaccinated, even though after careful study of this particular vaccine and other things considered, I thought it to not be beneficial for my own health.
I was indeed choosing to be vaccinated to “help” others. Not help as in that I believed my vaccination would technically help less people dying of Covid; But because I believed a vaccination would help others to feel comfortable around me, and relieved I had been vaccinated. Which in my opinion was an equally valid reason to get vaccinated, because ultimately if you do something for other people, it is none of your business why they want you to do that. If you get vaccinated because you believe you are protecting your social environment for death, or from fear and worry, in the end, doesn’t matter. Once you have decided you’re gonna take one for the team, you take one for the team. End of story.
Except in my case, because I am a writer, I did feel the need to write out my exact considerations because I wanted to be able to read back what they had been. Taking one for the team was going to be a conscious choice.
The most important reason that I hesitated, however, was because I believed it was a dead-end street. That giving into fear had in the entire history of the world, never been the wisest thing to do. And after a year of lock downs, social restrictions measures and half of our economy immobilized, like cancerous limbs that were cut off to stay healthy; I suspected the fear underlying this social self-mutilation would not be satisfied with me, or even the entire population, taking a vaccine.
My decision to take the vaccine was like giving an addict his or her heroine; You knew it was only a matter of time because they needed more. There was little reason for joy.
All this cannot be seen separately from my social phobia: I have always thought people were extremely unreasonable in their social demands, of needing to be psychologically pampered before they were okay with… well, life. They needed a delicate mix of acknowledgement, love, and empathy, or, alternatively, they needed to know who you were and if you were influential or if they could ignore you. From the way I saw the world, people always needed my attention, my money, my approval; And up until recently, my attitude to life was that this was a bad thing.
That it was an injustice that people needed me to behave a certain way, in order to feel good about themselves. There was something very wrong about that, in my opinion. So when Covid came in 2020, that I was now supposed to keep 1.5 meters distance, stay indoors, not see other people and so on and so forth, was just added to the pile of demands that I had to fulfill if I wanted human interaction. I wasn’t happy with it, but then again, since I was already phobic of other people because I thought they were unreasonable in what it was they needed from me in order to have a normal human conversation, it didn’t surprise me either.
Just that when I realized I was on the verge of getting vaccinated when my number is up, I needed some alone time with my Dutch blog, to get it straight why I was choosing to do this.
Today I woke up, feeling the same dystopian feeling I have been having since spring 2020. That feeling of: “Something really terrible is going on…. what was it?” Oh, yeah. Covid. Or to be more exact: The ever changing social dynamics, the always hungry beast of fear, that I m getting tired of feeding.
Because it’s never enough.
And then, suddenly, like a bolt of lightning!, I saw the truth which made me so very happy! Not just because after a year of being haunted by my social fears, it finally gave me an action perspective, as psychology so beautifully puts it. But also because it was a great equalizer between me and “them”. It snapped me out of my perceived loneliness that I had experienced because I had thought the people afraid of Covid, and therefor adding wanting me to make them feel safe to their pile of social demands, were different to me. After the bolt of lightening, I no longer felt that.
The bolt of lightening was this: Me needing “the public” or “people” to get over their need to be Covid-reassured, for example by me getting vaccinated; That need, my need and waiting for that moment when there are no more facemaks, no more social distancing, no more frantic testing and stress when you get sick or cough any more than the years when we only had the flu; That need of mine for “them” to stop their behavior that scares me? Is exactly the same as their need to have their fears acknowledged, and their desire for “it” to go away.
I am giving away my power, and making this about something outside of myself, just as much as they do. It doesn’t matter at all, whether you’re afraid of people’s impossible social demands, like I am. Or whether you are afraid of death by Covid and therefor try to get your surroundings to behave in a way that is palpable or reassuring to you.
Fear is fear. You have to cut the cord. You have to put your foot down, and refuse to bow.
See it like those movies where they refuse to negotiate with terrorists: Negotiating with fear is just as pointless. Unless, in theory because I don’t have examples of that, but unless just like in the movies you have a hidden agenda where you appear to be negotiating with the terrorists to buy yourself time to win; Negotiating with terrorists or with fear, is a very bad idea.
And I m sure you remember the older, wiser cop or FBI agent, who negotiates the best, don’t you?
He or she does not get angry, or emotional, in their negotiations. They hold the space, let the other do the talking, listen very carefully. They’re always polite to the terrorists but they don’t give anything they are not willing to give. They don’t give anything without their end game in mind.
So do that. Stay calm and keep your endgame in mind.
Whether you feel fear for the virus, or you re suffering from a social fear like I do; Hear it out, let fear speak.
But make sure it doesn’t get to drive the bus.
Suzanne L. Beenackers email@example.com Paypalme
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That is how Saturday’s post ended! Finally, after a long time of playing with the thought, I was going offline!
And I was going offline AS ART! * heart eyes*!
I was literally so excited, I could feel my destiny being fulfilled.
You see, Covid started at a very strange time in my life. A time when I had finally “accepted” (a literal coming to terms with) that I was a writer, and that I would be spending so many hours each day writing, sitting behind my desk.
Realizing that had given me inspiration to counter balance the indoor, solitary writing, with work with my hands, or in a venue or outdoor location. Something in art or entertainment where both the real 3D space, as well as the real interaction with people were key.
Knowing I was already sitting on my ass for hours straight (last weekend I spent 10 hours per day writing or socially interacting at my desk), I simply didn’t have any ass sitting hours to sell, or to offer in exchange for some human interaction.
But I knew that after the coming to terms with being a writer, I would be in need of this real life. Whether paid or voluntarily work! I needed to be saved from myself.
A desk, a writer’s internal world, is such an intense place. We need “you guys” to, I don’t know, throw a cocktail umbrella at our heads or something, to wake us up from our artistic delirium.
We, writers, should not be left unsupervised, for days on end. There was a reason Alice fell down the rabbit hole: she probably sat for 10 hours at her desk too.
So by the time Covid started I was very firm in my conviction I needed some scheduled live interaction, to save me from myself. And then the pandemic came and I wasn’t the only was tied to their desk: We all were.
And the jobs I had set my eyes on, either didn’t exist anymore because they usually involved festivities, real life interaction. Or if they existed, they had this whole layer of Covid etiquette, Covid hygiene, Covid expectations, and a ten day tail where you could be summoned to get tested if a colleague had tested positive.
So aside from the fact that all sectors I wanted to work at, were closed or worked in a way that was full of stress and lacked the spontaneity that had been its charm, the actual interaction with colleagues, customers or clients, no longer had the same charm as it did before Covid. Like everybody, I minimized all social interaction, wrote and taught yoga online, and stopped looking for a job in the sectors I had wanted.
Initially, I thought I was just waiting for the storm to pass. Until the real world had found its form again, and I could resume my plan.
And then something started to shift.
. I think it was before the end of summer 2020, that I realized that after 14 years, I was no longer going to be a writer. Instead, I would take the thinking and the vision, that had always been behind the writing, into the real world and express through the spoken word and performance art. I would use the rest of this crisis to wrap up my writing (the majority of my work is written under a different name), consolidate my sites; And then go professional as a speaker, thinker, performer, and have my published work (which would be about 30 books total) available online. .
Even if I never wrote another word, I had written enough to speak about, and sell for the rest of my life..
I prepared for a professional life offline;
No longer as something that was nice to have, in addition to being a writer.
But instead of it.
. I never wanted to spend another day behind my computer, ever again. It was during this time, that a deep, burning, yearning, desire to go offline started to take shape!
Oh man, even thinking about it, makes my heart sing.
I have called it different things.
Analogue heritage: The skill to be in the real world and deal with real space, real people.
But it was also very much linked to Marina Abramovic and the awareness and acuteness of her work.
Just think of the impact of physical proximity/ touch/ live interaction after Covid! When all our minds are so programmed to start seeing other bodies as hostile.
Standing next to each other will be like standing next to a military man with an automatic riffle. We don’t even need the shock-effect of the loaded gun, knife and self-infliction from Marina’s 70s work! Another body already IS the loaded gun! Hugging other people already is self-infliction! .
The energy around physical interaction is so dense, so toxic, and the awareness of our own mortality almost tangible; When people say things will go back to normal when it is “safe”? Oohhh… you have no idea what you are dealing with here.
Things will never go back to normal. Not because situation is different; But because we are.
We are now suddenly aware that social interaction has a price. That having safe sex was just the tip of the iceberg; Every interaction can cost you your life, or the life of your family members.
. The price of social interaction and NOT living solitary and working from your study; That price is giving up having control over your hygiene.
And I m telling you from the bottom of my heart, that is a price so worth paying. And not just for the few people you voluntarily see, but also for all the ones you accidentally meet or are standing next to in jam packed trains, or at concerts, or whatever. But maybe that is the artist in me.
The idea that every person can kill you by their physical presence, is the most fertile artistic ground since the second world war.
And I could not wait to jump in and be a part of it. The insight that my future lay in the real world, and that going offline would be part of it, started to take shape. I was no longer a writer.
Last Friday I wrote for my Rock Star Writer blog, a post about that it was too early to go offline. Because I needed being online, now that normal interaction was cut off. I wrote, convincing myself, that now was NOT the time. Posted the blog. And realized: “This is bullshit. NOW is always the time!!” So one day later, I wrote for this site World Between Worlds, the Day One post of my offline project. Now was, indeed, the time to go offline.
I was very happy that despite Covid, I already started living that part of my life in integrity with how my life would be post-Covid. I was already offline, meaning I used social media and email only deliberately. I did read news feed and watched YouTube. And although I knew that the news and the channels I watched, were pessimistic and could make me angry, I also knew I would not be able to stop that.
I was going into this offline project for life, so I definitely did not want to make it too strict.
But in the process, I either got it entirely backwards, meaning that it would have been a better choice to only do social media but no news at all. Or, that it was just undoable.
That I had been right, Friday. That now was not the appointed time to go offline and assume my post-Covid artist lifestyle.
Because on Sunday, for the first time since last summer, I was back to only wanting to be a writer. I had lost all desire to ever be part of the world ever again. I would throw myself head first in the looking glass AND the rabbit hole and say to the Red Queen: “Please take my soul and my head, whatever I need to pay to stay here, but don’t send me back up ever again.”
When I cut myself off from the digital world, it opened my eyes to the real world. And it was a world with people who had been so afraid of death and disease that they had blew it up, and destroyed it. And I lost all desire to create art for them.
I felt like having a popcorn and watch the show.
I had told-you-sos and really’s? and a lot of you-gotta-be-fucking-kiddings growing in my heart, until I became more evil than the Red Queen, and started wondering where death would strike.
And looking forward to it.
Disconnected from my social media and without the comforting surroundings of my Inbox; I started longing not just to withhold my real-life presence, my art, my empathy, and my love; I started longing for it all to end.
I hoped that if death struck, or if the masses lost their minds and started to riot, they would take me first, because I no longer had anything I wanted to do. Within 72 hours offline I had lost all purpose and desire to be part of this world.
So after a year of Covid I am back to where I was. I’m standing in exactly the same spot.
I am a writer. I live at my desk. But I need something solid, something scheduled, in the real world. And yes! That will be speaking, performance, art. That will all be there, as well.
But first there will be unlimited access to my socials, my Inbox, and ANY and ALL things digital my heart desires!
Ending this art project of being offline, after less than 72 hours.
. Like Alice, I have woken up after a scary adventure and found myself awake, back at the riverbank.
The dark clouds have moved away and the sun is coming through.
As the day draws to a close, and I look back at how my first day in my New-Committed-For-Life art project “Being Offline Is My Art” went, I think I would label it:
A lesson in humility.
In particular because the difficult parts I expected, were not the actual difficult parts.
Sure, there were the drawback effects of realizing how often you grab your phone to open your email or social media.
And there were the blissful pure parts of the day where I had heightened awareness of everything around me.
Something I attribute entirely to not being on a digital drip the entire day. Of not having my awareness sucked into what I call “The Matrix’.
So that was the difficult part but also the benefit which I kind of expected.
But where I slipped were the online moments. Like this message I am currently typing here, straight into the Facebook box;
“Officially” I vowed to prepare all my emails, social media posts, in a separate Word file.
And to go in copy-paste and post. Although with emoticons, finding a picture and so on, it is not that clear-cut.
But the idea was pretty simple:
1. Type, prepare “offline” (on a not interactive software)
2. And then just go in to post.
I can tell you that works great for email.
Did that. Was great.
But really knocks the fun out of typing messages like this, or composing a tweet or shorter message which I will do later tonight for myDaily Bon Jovi Yoga project.
So that was a lesson:
If I want to keep this up, I have to give myself some slack and be generous in what I call “offline”.
Maybe you could even call it a project in practicing being offline. Not an outcome of being offline/online for an x amount of minutes.
At least not for starters.
So that was one practicality where things did not go as planned. Preparing work “offline” (meaning on a non-interactive medium) is painstaking and no fun, and only works for emails.
In particular because my spelling check in Outlook is broken, so the emails have never looked better now that they’re made in Word.
But there was something else…
Other than the humility lesson that “being offline” is more “practicing being offline” or “brave attempt to be less addicted and constantly checking my phone”.
The other thing was that the “offline” work time, so using other non-interactive websites or software, still drained me….
I had expected tonight would be totally different than I had been feeling the rest of the week!
That the anxiety that often haunts me, the restless energy that seems to build up during the evening because I m always on my computer, would be less now that I did not use interactive media.
Now that I had avoided a lot of checking and browsing, and had already had my peaceful blissful moments as a payoff, I was SURE the evenings would be swell!
Except they re not.
I feel just as “hit-by-a-truck how the fuck did I get myself into this?” as I always do around this time.
Just as “Oh, and then I still have to do yoga too…” wondering why I didn’t do that at a moment when I could still keep my eyes open.
So those were the very down to earth aspects of my first day of this new lifestyle “Being offline is my art”.
And yet, as humble these beginnings were, they did give me enough to start understanding why this is indeed an art project, and not a lifestyle choice.
It’s not digital minimalism.
It’s not a productivity tip.
It’s not me trying to overcome an internet addiction.
It is art.
Because just like people who live in a time-capsule, f.e. a house in the 19th century style, I do feel how this untethers me from modern culture.
I quit Netflix months ago, which is not an interactive medium at all, but I just didn’t like the endless possibilities it offered.
That was already a big step for me, because I liked being there. Liked watching what everybody else watched, or at least having that readily available.
I have written a lot about popular culture over the years, and although much was from the 80s 90s, I ve always gone through phases when what I wrote was more contemporary.
Like my Sex and the City phase, Vampire Diaries phase, and I watched all available episodes of Stranger Things and Lucifer.
When I quit Netflix, I knew I untied myself from that…
That I would not be writing about contemporary popular culture anymore which made me kind of sad.
But today, the first day of practicing being offline, was a deepening of that.
It was a realization that I was cutting myself off from normal everyday society. And that it had been inevitable.
That I had always known solitude and being solitary was my path.
Not in the yoga sense of meditating and turning inward and connecting with God.
I had not cut myself off from the digital world for spiritual reasons, at least not that clear.
Going offline is part of choosing art, the creation of it, and choosing to have a limited number of sources and input from others.
In particular input from non-personal sources, things you encounter because you’re on the internet.
I m not on the internet.
Hence: I don’t see them anymore.
I interact with other people (yes)
I investigate topics, I watch dvd’s, and I will also chat/ attend live streams.
But I will not be attending and interacting and going after, everything that catches my eye and interest.
What I make and write will inevitably be far less relatable than it has been.
And even the process will be different:
I ve been writing since 2006 under pen name, but always with all tabs open.
All social media open.
As I was typing, internet was my window at the world.
And it no longer is.
I’ve closed my digital work studio, where I have been having my adventures for the past 15 years and saying:
I live offline. I ve moved my art studio.
When I m online I am a tourist.
I am no longer a resident online, and not an employee with an online office. I am no longer dating online either, although I stopped that in 2010 officially. But I simply will not be online to build a relationship and meet people that way.
I have left the crowded squares, the public buildings, and now I am in a large spacious room. I don’t know where, but I assume it’s where all art comes from:
That I am in the world between worlds.
And I ve taken my place at the table.
Suzanne L. Beenackers firstname.lastname@example.org Paypalme
“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.”
It was when I once again tried to find something about what happens when you’re highly creative, and how you can learn to control it or dampen it.
How to make creativity go away, even.
Just hypothetically, it was a question that interested me.
Although I was aware even the thought was ungrateful towards my creativity, my art, my purpose.
Just like speaking about how “it” haunted me down each day. And how times when I had experienced peace and serenity, were the days I managed to stay from its claws.
That was ungrateful too.
I hoped one day I would take my responsibility for my part in our relationship. That I would be able to show up as a pair: “This is my significant other. His name is Art and we’ve been together since 2006.”
And that I would not feel the need to add: “In good and bad times.”
Art too, would just smile and be nice. And we’d have a harmonious relationship, not just for the outside world, but also in the way we lived together.
I hoped that day would come, but it was not yesterday when I tried to find YouTube videos or articles with Google, how to be relieved from the presence of art. Or how to soften its destructive slipstream that had the power to derail friendships, and break your self-esteem.
That the slipstream of art had the power to destroy you, was a consequence the internet did not seem to know of. Least of all the creators of YouTube videos that promised you unstoppable creativity. Or the authors of articles on daily habits that nourished your creative inspiration, and coached you through getting through a tough, uninspired time.
Their Art seemed to be scared away if you breathed to loudly. Instead of a thing that chased them down, and sunk its teeth in them and sucked them dry. Their Art did not do that.
There were three thoughts that came up, seeing these people summoning their creativity with an optimism that I had never experienced.
And the thoughts were kind of related.
The first one was of course:
“Be careful what you wish for.” I don’t think you have the slightest clue of what you are trying to summon into your life. And even less of a clue of how to deal with it. My guess is no preparations have been made, to accommodate this beast.
And the second thought was:
“I sincerely doubt it can be set free, or unleashed, by your tips.”
And the third thought was:
“Which is probably a good thing.”
Complaining about lack of inspiration, and being proud of yourself for showing up for your work on discipline and willpower alone, seemed from my perspective preferable to having unstoppable creativity.
In particular because I, personally, would absolutely not show up for my art, for my creativity, on discipline or willpower. If I woke up and art was gone?
I would throw myself headfirst in some sort of all consuming job that would prohibit art from ever coming back in! Like opening an animal sanctuary or something.
I would make sure it was something with a lot of responsibility towards people or animals. Because I would not be able to fight art off by myself, if it changed its mind and came back.
But if lives were at stake I would.
So to me, those people struggling to create art? I don’t understand them.
And why you would want to be unstoppable in your creativity, baffled me even more.
Once again, I was left to my own devices figuring out my problem with too much creativity.
How did I get from “this”, from “here”, from feeling like I didn’t control my life and that it was run through me, but not in a God And The Angels From Heaven kind of way;
To “that”, “there”, and having a mature relationship with art where we were equals.
How did I not just stop blaming Art for not taking my needs into consideration;
But also be clear on how we could work together, what I was going to do for him, and paint the picture of how we would make wonderful things together.
But that we needed to have some boundaries in place.
What ultimately helped me, was an analogy used in the movie Tomb Raider, The Cradle of Life. They use the story of Pandora’s Box, and give their own interpretation to what’s inside of it.
They say what was left in Pandora’s box was anti-life; Ramante.
The plagues, the destruction, that were the natural companion of the creation of life.
The aftermath of my creativity, the slipstream of it that could swallow anything in its way?
The chaotic energy surrounding me, on days my had projects soared? They were Ramante.
As I created, Ramante uncreated.
And suddenly I saw how the force of this creative push, which robbed me of my ability to really connect to other people; How my creative fire that seemed to physically poison me; And how the emptiness, and the pain after creation, the darkness and the restlessness of insecurity if you have done right, if it was good enough; All resembled how I am with a man.
How, if Art was a man I was in love with, the insecurity, the one-on-one playtime, and the devastating loneliness the day after, would all have been exactly the same.
And in comparing Art to my love life, I also saw how to go about it.
After a night with a man, the pain is so strong and unbearable, that you think the only way to ease it, is to hear from him:
“It’s okay, I love you too.”
Or a text message: “I miss you too.”
Or even: “How about we drop this whole playing hard to get, and you move in with me this afternoon?”
Similarly to the craving for connection with a lover the day after, I have always felt the desire to create again after creating.
To create even more.
The reason I am so prolific (I work on multiple media, and under multiple names) is because creating something new is the only thing that makes the pain go away.
After sex with a man, I know the only thing that will help, is more of him. Another night, another day, or an entire life together. But I have taught myself to resist that.
I have taught myself NOT to call, not to be needy, and in all honesty, I often ease that pain by writing.
And it works.
As the Ramante of our night together does its destructive work of pulling me into loneliness and despair, I team up with Art behind my desk.
We have a beer, some Japanese balls (pretzels) and commence writing. We are a real team.
Art really has my back, and we create a beautiful story from what happened. Until the day after that, when the second wave of Ramante comes.
A second wave of loneliness, disconnect.
And by now there is no way of telling if this destructive aftermath is from the night with the lover, of from creating the art. Or, most likely, both.
All you know is that the only thing that helps, is to create new art. That the act of creation will take away the pain.
But I m going to break that habit of automatically going for the art, creating new things, when Ramante comes.
Let it rest. Sink in.
Integrate the pain, however uncomfortable it may be.
What I have done with men, and which has allowed me to take more emotional risks, and be in relationships most people would not be able to sustain; I must also do with Art; To NOT treat it as an everyday thing, you can just be in day after day after day. That you need something different, to ease the pain afterwards. And I don’t know what that is yet!
But that you, or I, can’t keep reaching for the same thing.
Just like I do not want to be the sobbing, or accusatory lover who loses her shit the next day, and blames the man for taking advantage of her; I do not want to be the one blaming art for the devastating Ramante, destruction, that always takes my breath away and causes havoc in the days after creation. It’s not his fault, or its fault.
You can’t have the highs without the lows. You can’t create a beautiful sexual encounter, or a work of art, without suffering the Ramante, the destruction that follows in its steps. But what you can do, is stop being reactive when dealing with it.
What you can also do, is to stop wishing for unstoppable creativity.
In Tomb Raider, Lara Croft prohibits the box from being opened, and lets it sink back into the vulcano. She gives the key, the legend, to the tribe that guards the mountain, the Cradle of Life, where the box is buried.
And she says:
“Some things are not meant to be found.”
Like many people who live alone, I wake up every moment thinking this must be all a bad dream. That the Will Smith I am Legend feel of my entire existence, where I roam with a German Shepherd by my side in a ruined city that has been taken over by nature, desperate for a sign of life from others, is all a big mistake.
And in a sense, yes; It is different.
Because if I am willing to live by the Corona regulations, and lower my expectations of how much fun we’re going to have, and the amazing things we’re going to do, spontaneously; And if I am not intimidated by the fact that if the person I see tests positive within the upcoming ten days; I am requested to stay home, get tested, turn my agenda upside down and report everybody I have been into contact with? Well, then yes! Then my current situation IS entirely different to living alone in a world that has been destroyed by a virus to which I am immune.
Aside from a few friends and my family, I don’t see anybody.
I haven’t done any group things, not even when it was allowed. And from the three times I went to the movies, when the theaters were still open, I felt completely apocalyptic the first time, being in an almost empty theater.
One movie I walked out of because it was too violent, even more so given all the things I had to conquer or risked by even being there.
And the movie I successfully watched consisted entirely of cat videos.
In the summer many people I knew went on holidays. But aside from the fact that I would never share a hotel room with someone now, the thought going on holiday would also mean I would then have to leave my address with every restaurant three meals a day, made my stomach turn. After I got home, it would take ten days before I could no longer be called by health services, sentencing me to quarantine.
The Netherlands are excited that the loosening of the measures seems inevitable. We will be able to sit at terraces, and go to the cinema and on holidays soon. But I don’t think much will change for me. As long as the test and trace policy is in place, and it also applies to those who have been vaccinated (which I will), nothing will change for me personally. I will still be freaked out by the threat of 10 days of isolation.
The price is just too high.
Yes I like going to the movies. Yes I like doing things in groups. Yes I like coming over for dinner or going out to dinner.
But if the price tag is having a pending threat of isolation, I m not going to do it.
I’d rather wake up every morning for the rest of my life feeling like Will Smith in I Am Legend, than to pick up my social life under the current circumstances.
“A loneliness so thick you could make slices of it.” “Post-apocalyptic.”
“I am Legend.”
Still in bed I try to find words to describe it, to get a sense of control. And sometimes I feel the loneliness has taken over my body while I was asleep. Like a parasite. And it immobilizes me. I have no idea how to take it out, even though obviously it does disappear enough to get up.
I have not spend a day in bed because of mental health reasons. Not counting the days I had migraines, which I have had six times since Covid began, and none prior to that. Migraine is when the demon has won. Usually on day two or three after a normal, relaxed social activity.
A “normal relaxed” social activity that I could still end up in Covid test, trace and isolation hell house for that is.
To me social life has become like one of those American haunted attractions, from Steven King novels or the movie Us. I can already hear the eerie carnival tune.
Every moment I wake up I wonder how long I can keep this up. How long before I lose my sanity. How long before I break. Am I even alive? Because I am clearly, obviously, for the past 12 months and counting, not living! When do you become undead, like the zombies also present in the movie I am Legend? Or like the ring lords, the Nazgul, in Lord of The Rings.
When does the loneliness virus turn you into a creature neither living nor dead?
And then I saw that the city where I live, is documenting testimonies about what loneliness does to us, and I knew this was my call. I had so much to say about loneliness. Like any lonely person I would be able to talk about it for hours. And yet; That was precisely why I didn’t want to talk about it.
The thought that the interaction I had with the outside world would contain any reference to the challenges of living alone, with my social phobias as I usually call them, was simply unacceptable. I would never break. I would never give this demon the honor of even being mentioned in conversations. He would not be written about, he would not be talked about. He could infest my body and my mind, and take my life from the inside out; But he would never be known to the outside world.
I know my purpose, my work, who I am and what my values are.
And Covid or no Covid; There is no scenario where I am ever going to give power to loneliness by talking about it in a way that doesn’t directly contribute to my work, is in line with my values and so on.
I don’t care how often I have to wake up in fetal position in the bathtub, holding on to my gun, the way Will Smith’s character does in I Am Legend.
So I had already made my decision I wasn’t going to give this thing power over me, when I read this:
find the pain you can fall in love with for life and nothing can stop you
And I knew I had found my answer. Because I CAN fall in love with loneliness.
It has been with me my whole life. I don’t just have an unnaturally high tolerance for it, I actually crave it. I need whole chunks of it, in order to function healthily. Even though I have made resolutions to never be home alone for even one more day for the rest of my life, after Covid; I know I will still need more alone time than others.
In the 80s a similar situation existed when I developed what I can now see was a social phobia. AIDS was part of our sex lives and in my case also part of my sexual education because I was so young. I ended up totally freaked out by the fear of contracting AIDS but ultimately (in hindsight) I can see it was fear of being expelled from society if I caught it.
It was fear of being rejected for my sexuality.
It cost me 20+ years to get rid of it. The first 20 were dedicated to avoiding situations that were either physically risky or, more importantly, socially risky. I felt if I would get it from the dentist through dirty needles I would not be socially expelled. But if I got it from sex with a man who was not my boyfriend, even if I had used condoms, that I would be. And after the first 20 years of avoidance, I overcame it. I accepted the risk of being expelled for my sexuality. I accepted the risk of being alone.
Fear of loneliness stands for fear of rejection, fear of death, fear of being laughed at, fear of social exclusion. That’s why it’s hitting us so hard. That’s why we wake up every morning like Will Smith in I Am Legend.
But it’s also why social situations, where both the Covid virus but even more so Covid etiquette can jump out like a Jack-in-the-box, have the unpredictability of a haunted maze at the carnaval.
Covid brings us socially in a catch 22:
Or the horror maze.
And it has been that way for over a year.
And some people choose the maze! They go headfirst into the madness and will just see where that leads them. They seem to be without fear, because they have decided they are not going to let Covid stand in their way. Just like I refuse to give attention to the loneliness, they refuse to give attention to all the social forces pulling at them from different sides.
Shrieking at them, from the darkness. They just keep pushing forward.
But it really doesn’t matter which pain you choose: The pain of loneliness, I Am Legend. Or the mayhem of the haunted house of Us or novels from Steven King.
Because once you’ve fallen in love with one pain? You can bear them all.
Entire point explained in one video: YOU are the show! The fans, YOUR fans, are appreciating you, whatever it is you think you are selling. And yet you might be there beating yourself up for all that went wrong, or why what you re selling wasn’t or isn’t good enough.
What if I told you we’re all in the same business? All of us. From the king to the gardeners. Even people who are dependent on an allowance/ welfare are in this business. Because if they fail to do this, be “in” this business, even though they should still get their money and everybody in theory thinks it should be regardless of who you are because it’s a human right; Even though all of those things?
If they fail to be “in” this business? They’ll lose that right.
Everyone who has ever been treated unfairly, or who has ever suffered bad service in a restaurant, or who feels they’re under some kind of social threat all of the time? It’s because they have failed or are resisting, to do this work and do it seriously each and every time they come into contact with another human being. *
[* for a lot of people, society is highly unfair and makes it practically impossible to get by without knowing this skill. This is why, in my opinion, learning the skill from this article, should be priority skill number one for economic equality ]
We’re all in the same business. But because of that, we have started diversifying based on the aspects of our lives (usually calling them “jobs”) that are not the same. Because if (or “since”) we’re all in the same business, how else would we identify but by pretending that the second characteristic of what it is we do or are, the second key factor that determines how successful we are or what our identity is as perceived by others; What else can we do than to pretend that secondary thing about what it is we do, is the primary one?
This article is too short to go too deeply into that, and how there are also communities that identify based on what family/ tribe you belong to, or what special interest you have, but the most important takeaway from this piece is this: We really ARE in the same business. The people business.
And we all do the same work: The work of making people feel good.
Even people who play with money as a way to make money, are ultimately in the people business. Although money definitely buys you a ton of hall cards not to have to do this work; At the end of the day, even Mark Zuckerberg, even the bitcoin trader, have to do it.
At the end of every line there is a person you have to please to get to the next level (if you’re privileged), or to get your money (if you’re dependent).
Now don’t get depressed, because all of this is actually super good news and it will make your life very easy and make you a lot of money, the throwing credit cards at you from the title is real. But allow me to harp on for just a sec.
So with all of us being in the making-people-feel-good business, the only thing that differs between jobs and between lives, are things like:
difference: How many people you encounter and therefor how often you have to do this work.
In general the higher paying your job is, the fewer times you “have to” do this work, but also the fewer the times you can do this work. Which can lead to a feeling of loneliness and meaninglessness. Even superstars, who know they make people happy from afar, can suffer from the lack of direct human connection. In particular if their line of work (f.e. a movie star) doesn’t have a component of direct connection.
difference: The extend to which this work is explicit or hidden
In the entertainment industry, the work of making people feel good, is explicit. In medicine it is hidden (but good luck getting a patient healthy with a specialist without social skills)
difference: The type of job or relationship this work piggy-backs on.
For employees making their boss and their colleagues feel appreciated, is implicit.
But for a small business or independent service provider, and now we get to the point where people will want to pay you; Because for a small business or independent service provider this work is literally THE ONLY WORK THEY EVER HAVE TO DO
There. I said it.
I don’t care if you are an independent physiotherapist, or an art painter, or if you sell glutenfree cookies; Your ONLY work? Is to make people feel good.
I know so many people who have amazing things to sell, so the product does actually contribute to the overall value; And who also have such great client relationships, people would give good money to be in their presence and call them a business partner, or their teacher, or service provider. And if they could buy physical things, for example takeaway food or drinks!, it is even better because the physical products have a comforting “cloak” of normalcy.
Yet these entrepreneurs or independents, are not aware their social skills are offering a magnetic power, and also not (if you get uncomfortable being in the spotlight) they miss the deep craving their clients have for human connection.
People are waiting to be invited as a paying client, or to step up the relationship you have with them, but they can’t if you don’t offer it.
They can’t create this whole relationship by themselves. YOU are the provider, the supplyer, the professional; You have to lead the way.
What products will sell? What does the market want? How are we going to survive the Covid crisis? Stop thinking like that! No one can connect with you or pay you, if you stay in your own head.
I’m not going to elaborate on that, because I m already way over the “serious shit people do not want to read about” quota. Which, by the way, is a direct violation to making people feel good!
Don’t talk serious shit people don’t want to hear about if you want people to feel good, hence, pay you!
And if you do; Cushion it, compensate, make up for it. For example by delivering something that will make them millions. Which is what I am going to do right now.
Because; What if, today, right at this moment, you decided that whatever it is you thought was making you money, is not actually what is making you money; And focused SOLELY on making people feel good.
Connecting, smiling, taking an interest, being human.
Showing yourself the way Jon Bon Jovi showed himself on that stage 21 November 1988, as I illustrated with the picture.
The YouTube video I used at the top of this blogpost is from a documentary about Bon Jovi, Access All Areas. The opening scene is shot early November 1988, three weeks before they were in the Netherlands. It was a show in Dublin.
It switches between shots taken in the dressing room right after the show. With cursing band members, because as Jon later recalls in an interview, “Everything that could did go wrong.” And shots that were taken outside, right after the same show. With fans raving about how good it was, and what an absolutely amazing experience they had.
The fans were on a total high, and the show had delivered to them a brilliant experience. It was worth every penny.
So you see? Even Jon Bon Jovi in 1988 did not know what he no doubt learned very shortly after. That it’s not about what you sell. It’s about how you make people feel.
We’re all in the same business: The business of making people feel good.
Now go rock that!
Suzanne L. Beenackers
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What started as this blog World Between Worlds, the most abstract subject I have ever written about, is spreading itself through the rest of my life.
The existential questions I have been asking myself with regard to art – How do I keep it pure? What comes if I do not DO anything? Where does it come from? How can I get closer? – are the same questions I should have been asking myself in every area of my life!
I am just learning what that means, and the vast extend to which my life will be different, if I unlearn all the habits of control and by the book, the habits of grasping and molding and WILLING it into existence; And start applying the same principles in every area of my life instead. The principles as I have understood them with art. Let go. Sit with it. Let it come through you, not by you.
Let God or the Universe work through you. The entity called “the Genius” or the Genie. Or, alternatively, but probably simultaneously, let the conversations you have, the things you read, the world around you and its collective consciousness (the Scenius, as named by Brian Eno) work through you. But do not DO the work.
I m currently on a really big project, which you can describe as the rediscovery of yoga. After 20 years of being on a professional path of learning yoga, teaching yoga, and also practicing yoga without that joie de vivre that it had prior to that; How can I go back to not knowing yoga and let it come to me? Can I get that beginner’s enthusiasm back? Can I unlearn?
And if I have found “that” yoga back, that I lost two decades ago, can I then develop it from there? Can I share it with others, or even teach it?
And what do I teach from this newfound happy place of doing yoga? Do I teach yoga, or do I teach the love for yoga? Do I instruct or do I inspire?
It was in this project of excavating my love for yoga, that I realized the answers to these questions are similar to the ones I have been asking myself for this blog. My goal is to let yoga flow through me, like my writing flows out of me. I wish for the incentive to go to the yoga mat, to be as loud, demanding, and relentless as my urge to write.
But also, and this is what I have done in writing and not in yoga; I wanted my yoga to be pure, straight from the heavens so to speak! And not have yoga tied up and tied down to things that were proper yoga, and things that were not.
If you want to follow this “journey excavating yoga” (from the ashes of my 20 year career!) you can sign up to my new YouTube channel No Yoga with Suzanne Beenackers And! And you’re gonna love this, or at least I did, I m unlocking my YouTube vaults, hundreds and hundreds of vlogs but also yoga videos. And I m reposting them on the following blog: Suzanne Beenackers Curated So follow it for my curated video content, including yoga videos.
Once I understood my yoga had turned sour because I had learned to “do it properly”, and after watching my own yoga videos where I was not just doing it properly but I was totally rocking it; I knew I would find my love for yoga back. Once I understood what had happened, it lost its power over me.
I no longer mourned what had felt like two lost decades of studying and teaching yoga. No longer felt like I wasted 20 years that I would gladly tear out of my life like pages from a book. I was okay with it. Wrong turn, wrong path, not for me. Let’s start again.
And because with regard to writing I did have the positive experience of how natural and in flow it becomes if you only write what comes out of you; I knew what to aim for. I knew what it was. And was excited by the idea of letting go of the reins and letting the horse, or even better, the stallion of yoga run free!
The videos where I teach yoga, rock. You can see this woman is not going to drop the ball and mess it up. This is yoga capital Y on repeat, and you know it.
Which brings me to the title of this blog post, about great art, great yoga, great life, being fallible. It comes from Marina Abramovic, and I think I remember her having it from one of her teachers; Great art can fail.
And this illustrates what the difference is between what I want, and what we know as yoga; Yoga as we know it can’t fail. The yoga teacher can’t fail because the class is build up with a certain formula that will always give a “B+” And a practitioner on their mats can’t fail because just showing up is enough.
But if you let yoga be pure and let it flow out of you, just like this blog post flew out of me? It can fail! Maybe what “comes out of you” is not recognized as a yoga class. Or maybe if you practice yourself, you are distracted or not in tune with what you feel, and you hurt yourself.
A yoga teacher letting go of the reigns and teaching purely from soul can fail, because he or she will not know what comes out. And a practitioner can fail because they may not even find the flow, it may stay clunky. Yoga can even give you a headache. I ve had countless times when I felt worse after yoga, or quit because I was just disgusted being on my yoga mat. It wasn’t until now that I realize that meant I was taking it seriously! If I had stuck with a known routine, I would not have gotten so frustrated.
Another way to illustrate the difference, and the importance of work that can fail, is compare it to a craft. You can only get better at a craft. If your work is something you will only get better at as you age, like teaching yoga, like working with your hands (like a craftsman); It is a craft. But if you can fail even after 30 years? If you can fail it is art!
Before this blog post I spent time on a different blog post for my Rock Star Writer blog. When I started I knew it was something I had never tried before. Even if I succeeded, I probably would not be finished until midnight or even later. But 75 minutes later? I pulled the plug. Deleted the draft, but this is called “move to trash bin”, so for good measure I went to the trash bin and deleted it there too.
At first I was bogged down that I had wasted 75 minutes. How could I have done that? What a waste! I have been writing for 15 years, I know how to write a blog post, I know how to keep the time frame limited. I know what topics to avoid not to ruffle feathers, and I know which feathers I will never get tired of ruffling.
But then I relaxed: With my new mindset, my new values, my new goal of wanting to be in flow, and letting things come out naturally; The fact that I had started a blog post without knowing how it would end, or if I would be able to pull it off, was from now on going to be labeled positive! It was a good thing!
I really like that idea of unlearning the rules of your craft, and of going to the edge accepting risks, and excited to see what’s up next. Yes, it can be failure!
But, as Master Yoda said in Star Wars; “The greatest teacher failure is.”
And, in all likeliness, the greatest art.
Suzanne L. Beenackers
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