Nobody can save you but

yourself – and you’re worth

saving. It’s a war not easily

won but if anything is worth

winning – this is it.  

— Charles Bukowski

The world is strange and tough. A lot of things don’t make any sense to me — like Taco Tuesdays on a Monday. I’m making it up as I go along and sometimes I compare myself to others as a measure of my own progress.

But comparing myself to others hurts me in so many ways. And I found myself doing that at Burning Man.

Burning Man is larger than life. Large in scale. Beyond “large”. I am constantly in awe at people’s ingenuity, creativity and generosity — to the point that I feel not worthy to be in the presence of such greatness — to the point that I compare myself and realize I could never amount to even a fraction of such greatness.

Although this thought comes up for me, it’s fleeting because a lot of what makes Burning Man Burning Man is community. 

This was my second year. My first year was so overwhelming.  I am an anxious and impatient person so my first year was full of anti fomoing — must see this, must be here, must be up up up and go go go, to the point that I was completely burnt out and over it by my last day. I was so tired I couldn’t/wouldn’t enjoy Burning Man any longer.

So why come back? I’m a few years older and a bit calmer in nature (a bit but not by much) and I didn’t feel the pressure of having to partake in everything Burning Man had to offer anymore. Burning Man is so large and full that it is impossible to experience everything and this year coming into the burn, I had made my peace with that. And with that pressure lifted from my shoulders, it made me more receptive to meaningful and surprising connections with others and it opened me to discover that Burning Man wasn’t just a one time buffet of extravagant experiences, but could be felt and lived on the daily.

I’m an extrovert and I feel energized when connecting with a lot of people. I usually connect with people through conversations and getting to know a person interpersonally, sharing and swapping stories. But with Burning Man and keeping with their 10 principles, I practiced Gifting. I brought my flute to Burning Man and busted it out. When someone approached me, or I was introduced to someone new, instead of asking the usual ‘What’s your name, what do you do?’ I told people to give me three adjectives that described themselves and from what they said, I improvised a little tune on my flute for them.

With something that came easy and readily for me now (albeit after years of training in music), after my little ditty, I saw genuine awe in people’s eyes. Some asked me what my process was (if your word was ‘open’ = C major — most commonly used in pop songs, ‘grounded’ = low G major — down to earth kind of feel, ‘sexy’ = flute trill with a little hip action ;)) and after explaining it, people complimented me on how I spoke and thought about music in terms of their personality, and it made me feel valued and part of the community of Burning Man.

I connected with people through music, something beyond words. I was just jamming on my flute for a camp and a violinist arrived and asked to jam with me. Burning Man is about saying yes, so I said, absolutely! We exchanged more music notes than words and when we played together, unrehearsed and organically, it was beautiful. Her name was Empress and her violin was white. I had no idea where she was from or even her real name, but we connected when our notes and rhythm just felt right together. That connection transcended and I could feel the people who were listening enjoyed our improvised songs and they in turn was part of the experience, part of the connection, part of the community.

She’s wild, uncombed, unpredictable.

She’s a whirlwind. A mess. Lost.

Insecurities manifest into a monster that is she. 

But what makes her wild, makes her beautiful. 

She is missed and her community calls to her to come back. 

And she calms, she listens, she is saved. 

photos courtesy of Niamh and PK





So today in acting class, my teacher went over the basics of her method (it’s a good reminder).  She teaches intentional acting where you analyze the scene and the characters through a series of a questions.  (Btw I adore her, she’s Loren Chadima, if you’re ever interested).  There are 9 questions, but I’m only going over the first part of the first question: what is the relationship?  This question deals with the relationship between the two characters of the scene.

What I love about my teacher’s method is that it allows me to take the attention away from myself and onto my partner, whether it’s my scene partner or even the reader in the audition room, it allows me to ultimately make a connection.  And that’s what it’s all about.

Making a connection.  Having that chemistry.  When we watch a movie, when a scene works, often people will say, ‘wow they had great chemistry’.  You can’t fake chemistry, so to make a connection is something very special.

I guess that is why I strive to nurture and make full the connections I already have.  I rather spend time and energy with my friends and family than network and shake hands (which could be my demise in this business – another ironic thing at that).  But at the same time, I love acting because if I’m able to make a connection with a reader I just met a few seconds ago, then we had that something special.  Not only that, but acting allows me to understand a connection between two characters of a story and perhaps feel that connection and even be a part of it.

How powerful is that?  Connection is a beautiful thing.  In the book, “into the wild” by Jon Krakauer, there’s a lovely quote that says, “happiness [is] only real when shared.” although happiness is a personal state of elation, an object of subjectivity, for me personally, I am most happy when I’m having a moment with someone.  When we see that chemistry on screen, something so intangible surpass something so literal as a movie or TV screen, does it not glow or resonate?  Is it not felt and shared by everyone who sees it? Hmmm?


The Power of Vulnerability

So lately I’ve been on a TED binge.  TED is a global set of conferences that defines its mission as “ideas worth spreading.”  There’s a bunch of free lectures online from the conferences.  The lectures cover a wide range of topics within the research and practice of science and culture.  I saw a lecture about love and the brain, another one about a headset that allows you to move virtual things by thinking about it, even one about this guy who designs book covers including the Jurassic Park one.

Anyways, the video above is a lecture by Brene Brown, a vulnerability researcher, talking about “the power of vulnerability”.  I’ve included this video because I feel what she has to say makes a lot of sense to being a great actor.  I feel to be a great actor, one must be able to embrace vulnerability.  Be willing to let go of what society or others think you’re supposed to be and just be.  Be self-aware, be empathetic and connect with others.

I’ve heard a lot of casting directors and industry experts say that you must be your authentic self because what else would make you stand out from the other bajillion actors?  They always say to “play your look and be yourself”.  Also, actors must live truthfully in imaginary circumstances.  So if you’re not your true self in real circumstances, how can you expect to be real in imaginary ones?  And finally, the very meaning of empathy, “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another,” is a core requirement to even begin to act and portray such identifications.

All in all, Brene Brown is the shit.