thi.nguyen

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The Contrast Becomes the Definition

“Everybody always asks if you have a career, if you’re married, if you have children. Like if life was some kind of grocery list. No one ever asks us if we’re happy.” – Farrah Gray.

I’m totally guilty of that. Especially last year, when I was turning 30. That list was on a loop in my mind that eventually got me crying on my 30th birthday. And then I got tuberculosis, ended up in the hospital for two weeks. Waking up in the hospital, completely disoriented, I realized, I could’ve died, but I didn’t. This caused a shift in the expectations I had had for myself. After the whole TB/hospital/isolation ordeal, I still didn’t have a career, I still didn’t have a partner nor children, but I was happy. The mere fact that I had almost lost my health and got it back made me really happy.

2017. Alright, so now that I have my health, has that happiness lasted? Absolutely not. I still don’t have a career, still making devastating mistakes in the dating thing (nowhere near marriage) and thank god I don’t have children. But does this shit matter towards my happiness? No. Because last year, I was happy without it.

I heard the phrase “optimal happiness” recently. Reflecting upon this phrase, I wonder, doesn’t putting these two words together make it redundant? Shouldn’t happiness be the highest, the best you feel? And if optimal is a qualifier, doesn’t that dilute the meaning of happiness? Also, who is to say that one is entitled to happiness? What if you’re a shitty person? And you deserve sadness, trial and tribulations and unfortunate events? But then … just wait a minute …

You can’t have happiness without sadness. The contrast becomes the definition. 2016, my health was deteriorating. I was losing it. So when I slowly gained it back, I was happy because that lost was felt. 2017, I didn’t lose anything. There was no contrast to gauge a sense of happiness.

And now reflecting on this past year, asking myself, Thi, are you happy? I’m not. I’ve been feeling very very very low.  The other week, I had a bad case of the Mondays where I had such an aversion to my surviving jobs. I hated the monotony of my life. I hated the thankless kids and rude adults as a substitute teacher by day and a waitress by night. I hated that I wasn’t being creatively challenged or fulfilled. And I’ve been sad, mad, angry, frustrated, upset (more redundancy for ya), and then I wonder. Is this perpetual hell hole necessary for that eventual happiness on the bend? Or am I delusional? That there is NO bend, NO horizon, just more hamster wheel to spin.

HOPE. You HAVE to have hope. Because if you don’t, what is the fucking point?

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big toe big toe

so this past weekend i took a movement and posture workshop.  actually here’s some back story.

when i was a young girl, i used to walk to school every day.  back then we didn’t have ipods or mp3s to listen to (duh.  my little sister’s generation is so spoiled) so instead of bobbing to radiohead, i used my imagination to entertain me during my 20 minute walk to elementary school.  i actually remember this vividly and i honestly believe this is why i walk the way i do today.  anyways, on the sidewalk there are cracks that separate each block of sidewalk (cement? cinderblock?)  and i would imagine some punishable death if my feet were to touch the cracks.  so to avoid the cracks, i would either stretch my leg out to cross over them, or tip toe around them, in either case, i would always land on my toes. thus, to this day at 25 years old, i still walk on my toes.  i have been told that i have a bouncy walk.  actually when i was a teen and was still walking to school, ppl would come up to me and actually ask if i ever got sad on account of my walk being to so peppy/happy.  ugh.  i am human ppl.

anyways, back to the workshop.  so i’ve always known that i walked weird.  ive had friends literally try to teach me to walk heal toe heal toe but that concept never got to me.  how much weight/time do you put on your heal vs toe?  anyways, the teacher for this workshop really stressed how important feet were.  you must ground your feet and have a strong core.  when sitting down to have a good posture, we must sit on our sitting bones, legs apart hip-wise, feet directly under our knees and toes pointing straight forward.  now, i couldn’t get my feet directly under my knees with my toes pointed forward.  they would automatically (habitually) angle outward.  the teacher said if i kept this up, i would grow up to waddle instead of walk.  she told me that i must be cognizant of where my big toe was and to commit my mind to point it forward and train my leg muscles to support this stance (god, i’ve just become aware of how i was slouching).  the thing is, i never thought about how i was sitting, i never realized that i was slouching, with my back curved over my desk until that workshop.

what’s the point?  linda’s (teacher’s name) workshop is really beneficial for actors.  i’ve always heard that we must own the room in an audition.  we must make an impression.  my acting teacher has been on my back about my posture.  i tend to lean back and i come off as casual thus not owning the room but fading into the wall.  not memorable.

how this effects me: i stand and sit taller now.  i do feel a different energy when i’m standing tall vs crouching or leaning because my body is tricking my mind into being confident.  hell, if my mind is a wreck, at least my body isn’t and no one can tell (unless i start talking).  i need that steady stance to steady my mind in an audition or when meeting people.

how this really effects me: instead of thinking about the intangible concept of heal toe heal toe, i now think big toe big toe, making a conscious effort to point it forward (instead of outward) and really walking big as i own the room :]