Fly On The Wall

I had a really awesome, super cool, downright amazing experience the other week. I got to read stage directions for a brand-spanking-new, first time being read aloud, star-studded workshop of a new musical. It was fantastic.  I got to reconnect with a few creative professionals I’ve worked with in the past, and meet new awesome people who are working at one of the highest levels in the industry. I am so grateful to this experience. To be honest, 16-year-old Brock would shit his pants if he realized the awesome stuff he’d be doing at 23.

However, after being a fly on the wall, I want more. Reading stage directions is great from an observational standpoint, but creatively it provide very little juice. And I want to create. I want to act. I want to go for it. I want to make great things and terrible things and awesome boundary-pushing things and indie things and commercial things and beautiful things.

And I had to stop for a second and think…why am I not doing this? Why am I not attempting to do this?

Our old friend and foe, Fear, motherfucking Fear.

I’m doing too much or I’m not doing enough or I’m too eager or I don’t want it enough or they can sense I’m too desperate. I’m not writing enough. I’m not acting enough. I’m not auditioning enough. I’m not meeting new people enough.

You are enough. You are where you’re supposed to be. So create something, and share it with someone. That’s all you can do. One motherfucking thing.

“Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.” – Cheryl Strayed.

That’s one of my favorite quotes. Live it. Love it. Chill the fuck out (that’s most to myself, not you). Enjoy your life. Don’t overthink it. Greatness will come when it’s supposed to. Just be ready for it.

Advertisements

The Attitude of Gratitude #1

I have been writing a lot lately. Like a lot, a lot. Aside from this blog, I’ve been working on creative projects, and just generally writing for fun. I’ve also been attempting to practice gratitude for the wonderful things in my life.

So I just wanted to say, too all the people who encouraged me to start writing again and who continue to keep encouraging me to write, thank you.

Any creative endeavor, no matter how isolating or singular it may seem, is not accomplished without a small army of people. Even if you said to me once, offhandedly “Hey, I like your blog.” Thank you. I have kept going because of tiny words of encouragement, and I will keep going because of the momentum I have accrued through your words.

Thanks friends.

Slow Your Roll, Bro

If you’ve had your heart broken in the last year, if you’ve hit an emotional low, if you didn’t know how you would proceed, then good for you. You’re human. Congratulations. I’m right there with you.

Take your time. Feel the feelings that you need to feel. Cry on the floor. Eat a lot of shitty food. Be a mess. Then, when you’re ready, get up. Get going. And start again.

But only when you’re ready.

Take your time.

We live in a city, in a world, of instant gratification. Suppressing emotion for the sake of productivity used to work, but I don’t think that’s the way the world is anymore. We’re moving towards a society that values each individual experience as a part of the collective whole, which means that your life is just as valid as mine. Embrace that. Always move forward, but recognize that your experience, good or bad, is yours. Own it.

Healing doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over months and years.

Take your time. You’ll be better for it.

And then go be awesome.

Short Blog

Ugh I just want to write a short blog for today, but I cannot. It’s just not happening today. Sometimes I’m creatively stuck and nothing comes out. I have nothing worthwhile to say. I’m writing though, and that’s enough. Even if nothing worthwhile has been said, something has been said and that makes it worthwhile.

Maybe we just put something on the page, even if it fails to meet our impossibly high standards, and then maybe tomorrow we try again. Get through the day, persevere, and try again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

You can talk, talk, talk, You can bicker, bicker, bicker. You can talk all you wanna, But it’s different than it was.

(10 points to Gryffindor for whoever can guess where the title is from.)

One morning, a few months ago, I was going through a lot of shit. I got coffee with my dear friend Allison. I was talking, complaining, and lamenting my lot in life, my post-relationship woes, and general unhappiness with the present moment. She talked some too, but mostly it was me jabbering on and on about how my life was inadequate and had failed to live up to my expectations as a 23-year old. Allison was kind and listened to all of my bitching. Allison is really great like that, she is just there when you need her, regardless of what she may be going through in her own life. It was a good chat (from my perspective) but then I made a really funny comment, well it’s funny in retrospect.

“I’m really trying to work more on listening.”

Allison straight up laughed in my face. I was shocked. Had I not been listening? Had we both not shared our feelings? I had A LOT of problems at the time, but didn’t I listen to what she had to say?

…oh, wait. maybe not.

Listen guys, if you have to ask yourself or even think about if you’re a good listener, you’re probably not listening enough.

We talk a lot these days, “we” meaning people in general. There is a lot of noise all over the place. It’s easy to get lost in your problems, in this idea of the self. Let’s step back for a moment and realize that every single person’s experience is valid, and attempt to understand someone else’s perspective.

I hope you have friends like Allison who are there to listen to your problems when you really need them to. I also hope you have friends like Allison who are willing to call you out so you too can attempt to grow.

Let’s talk a little less and listen a little more.

The Brock Bivens Comprehensive, Totally Incomplete, And Continuously Evolving Survival Guide For Leaving Your Life In The Suburbs And Living In New York City: Chapter One.

I almost left New York. I almost left New York like 3 times. I almost seriously left New York like 3 different times in the course of a year. In fact, I actually left New York in May with the intention of not coming back for months until an awesome audition beckoned me back like a beautiful siren on the rocks. Between terrible jobs, a rocky relationship, learning a new city, losing my money, losing my mind, an inevitable break-up, and general unhappiness, I was about ready to throw in the towel, move back to the Pacific Northwest, and figure out something else to do with my life. This isn’t what I wanted for my life, I moved here to do what I love, but leaving felt like the only option. How was I going to afford this place? How the fuck was I going to find happiness here? I didn’t know the answers to these questions. I was angry, upset, anxious, and stressed.

And then something changed. I stopped fighting it all. I allowed the circumstances of my life to just be. I’m still finding my peace with this city and like an estranged family member who suddenly comes back into your life without warning; it takes time, but I’m learning to love this city all over again. I feel pretty great lately. After a year and a half (almost. ALMOST.), I’m finally making New York function for me.

Through trial and error, and some helpful advice from people who have weathered the storm of New York City, I’m learning to find what works for me, and what absolutely does not. I want to share that you. So without further ado, here it is

The Brock Bivens Comprehensive, Totally Incomplete, And Continuously Evolving Survival Guide To Leaving Your Life In The Suburbs And Living In New York City.

Chapter One

Find Your Secret Places And Share Them With Other People

This first piece of advice is sadly not a Brock Bivens original, but it is one that I received almost immediately after moving to NYC and it has stuck with me ever since. It was actually given to me by Ellen Lauren of The SITI Company. I had worked with them at Emerson, and asked for any advice on the city when I made the move. Maybe it was the way she put it, “Find your secret places” or maybe it was the dichotomy of having your secrets and then being selfless enough to share them, but her advice is the one that stuck with me.

I can’t emphasize how important this piece of advice is to me. As I write this, I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop in Brooklyn: Bedford Hill. They know my order, they know my name, I know their names. I come here, I sit, and I write for hours because I feel welcome. Strangers may surround me, but I feel connected to the place and the people. There are other coffee shops in the area, some of them are cheaper, and some of them have better coffee, but I return here every single day for the people, the environment, and the feeling.

My other favorite haunt is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. A sprawling haven of nature in the middle of Brooklyn next to Prospect Park. It’s just gorgeous. There is a Japanese Hill and Pond Garden, a Native Flora Garden with plants from the northeast, and a sprawling esplanade with cherry blossoms that are fucking gorgeous in the spring. If you go on the right day, there is no one around. It’s like having a park almost exclusively to yourself. I sometimes sit at the benches that overlook the cherry blossom esplanade and think or write. Sometimes I go read beneath a tree. Other times, I go to the Native Flora Garden and I feel like I’m hiking in Oregon. Needless to say, this is my escape from the city, without leaving the city.

Seriously, this place is magic.

I share these secret places with you, because they aren’t really that secret, they are places anyone can visit, but they are holy to me. I encourage you to share your secret places with someone you love and cherish dearly. If you can’t think of two places in this city that you absolutely adore, then I encourage you to go explore! If you feel so compelled, please share your secret places in the comments below as well. I want to know your secret places, because I want to visit them. I want to covet collect steal love them. I want to find the magic that you found.

Stay tuned for more (hopefully) weekly survival tips!

—————-

Do you have a show? A gallery opening? A performance art exhibition in the Lorimer Subway Station? Let me know, I’d love to interview you about what you’re doing. Contact me in the comments below, or find me @brockbiv.