badness, humor, work

Haiku distraction: Theater = masturbation

If I wasn’t able to write Bitter Haikus during boring meetings, I would go a little crazy.  Unleashing my intolerance for time-wasting, self-congratulating, fat-cat council meetings is all that keeps me from misbehaving just to see what would happen.

I had a 12-hour day at Office Job starting at 830am this week, and ending at a meeting where the dean of the school of theater spoke.  She brought an undergraduate student from her school with her.  They were just so pleased with their school and its purpose.

ah, theater. I have so much to learn from you.

The dean seems to say,
“Without theater, we would
all just die.” Huh. ‘Kay.

She started off her lecture by showing a video about what the school does, and how it’s just the best.  Naturally, every dean believes their school is the best, and that all students should take at least one of their school’s classes.  This got under my skin because theater is… how you say?… ridiculous.  I’ve seen one of their productions, and I was not impressed.  She and her student kept emphasizing how, in the theater school, students could “discover themselves,” as if the school of philosophy wouldn’t offer similar self-realization with the added benefit of a degree with some academic merit.  Poppycock!  Poppycock, I say!

“Being an actor
makes you a smarter person.”
Or… just go to class.

That is a direct quote from the theater student.  He said that researching how to play different roles gave him a wide range of knowledge about all kinds of people, as if he couldn’t get that exact education with greater accuracy and depth by taking any non-theater class.  He used playing a doctor as an example.  I scoffed aloud as I clamped down on the urge to throw my hand up and ask if he thought taking pre-med classes would have made him even “smarter” than his preparation for the role.  What a load.

Holy shit, he just
almost cried.  Be a bigger
stereotype, kid.

Yep, he got choked up talking about how great the theater program is.  Then he made fun of himself for it, and called himself a stereotype.  And he was right.

Don’t let the timer
meant for members go off while
the dean speaks, genius.

The presidents of the council for which the meeting was held have decided to bribe the committees to keep their presentations short by timing them (somehow the presidents themselves escaped this indignity).  While the dean spoke, the timer went off, and continued beeping obnoxiously in the co-presidents bag right in front of the podium for a solid minute before they figured out what it was.

Don’t ask the actor
if he wants to talk.  He does.
He will.  Always.  Talk.

The dean finished answering questions, and she asked her student if had anything to add.  Sheesh.  What kind of question is that to ask an actor?  Of course he wants to add something!  “What’s that?  A microphone and a captive audience?  Why yes!  I do have something to add!”

The dean also said something that ruffled my feathers: “What we know about ancient civilizations, we know through their theater.”  Now, I double majored in Art History and Philosophy, so imagine how rewarding it feels to listen to someone at the university where I got my degrees tell me that I owe every piece of knowledge I learned at a non-theater school to the theater school.  What an ego.  And it’s weird because I like this woman.  She’s very grounded and smart, but apparently when she’s selling her school, she goes balls-to-the-wall crazy.

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goodness, life, martial arts

Memory serves

This afternoon, on the 40th of my 108 days of meditation, I had an epiphany; I remembered a lesson I had forgotten years ago, and what a shame I lost track of it.

When I first started training, I was so proud to be a martial artist.  Two or three years in, I still bragged about training for my black belts.  I worked hard at the dojang, and thought that just by practicing what I was taught, I was, in a small way, better than other people.

It took me a long while to figure out that I wanted to be really good at what I was doing, and that participation alone wouldn’t ensure that I would master the styles I studied.  There’s a distinct difference between a practitioner of a martial art, and a someone who is dedicated to the martial art.  All my fellow students were practitioners.  It was only because I joined the school earlier than the others that I out-ranked them.  I decided that time alone should not determine my skill level.  I had to have a hand in it.  My rank would speak less about the number of classes I had taken, and more about myself as a martial artist.  I started really paying attention, and realized my place in the world was very small.  Being a martial artist meant nothing except what I made of it.  The best I could do was to hone my own skills and become the best tool for the style that I could.

It was a difficult transition for me.  My pride, which I had cultivated and nourished for years, suddenly had no place to call home.  I silenced my heart.  My rank became meaningless; no matter what color I wore, I never felt worthy of it.  I suddenly felt no competition with my similarly ranked classmates.  I practiced silence, occasionally speaking just a handful of words in a day.  It paid off, and my form became close to perfect.  As Naruto would say, I had found “my way of the ninja.”

I’ve been meditating for ten minutes a day for 40 days, and because of that I thought I was special.  I had forgotten that my objective is mastery, not participation.  Kung Fu loosely translates to “skill” and “effort,” but even that is not enough to become a master.  Even now there is a disquieting feeling in my chest; I can feel my pride rebelling against its second  eviction in a decade.  It claims that it is no sin to be proud of my accomplishments, and yes, this is true.  But the distraction is an unnecessary obstacle.  The sense that I have achieved my goal just as I begin to learn a new style is unforgivable.  The brown sash I’ve been given will blind me if I let it.  For a second time, I must quiet my heart, and retreat to a quiet, humble place.

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