Something about 2015: life, work, theatre and anxiety
Primarily I’m writing this for myself because I know right now a million fingers are about to press post on end of year blog posts, and I’m not sure the world needs mine.
But if you find yourself reading this, thank you. It’s been a demanding year, but this story starts and ends with hope with lots of work, adventure, acting, anxiety attacks and more in-between.
This time last year I had come up with an idea and given it a name, it was Fieldwork. Reading my journal entries from December 2014 is like reading the naive and slightly innocent thoughts of a person that had never been in business before. Looking back 12 months it’s as if I’d forgotten a lot of the things I’d been through setting up my previous 3 businesses.
The main thing I’d blotted out is how long starting something new can take. Last December I’d set myself a challenge, to make Fieldwork a real thing within 90 days. Thinking back, that was a slightly silly goal on many levels. What it did do though was kickstart experiments and conversations. Most of those didn’t turn into actual paid work, and that is where the tough part of this story is, keeping going when my bank balance was suggesting it might be a good idea to do something else.
There was a point about half way through the year when someone reminded me about the start of People Who Do. It took over 12 months before we paid ourselves anything even resembling a wage and a further 12 before we had a decent salary.
It was a moment tinged with sadness, because practically I wasn’t sure I could carry on much longer despite being hugely confident about the idea. I was seriously toying with the idea of getting a job for the first time in 20 years.
And then a deal came in, not a massive one, but enough to keep me on track and most importantly without compromise on what I was doing.
Fieldwork is an idea that’s been floating around in my head for a few years, 2015 felt like a full on development year and 2016 is going to be spent doing Fieldwork, I am very enlivened about this. I took a call on one of my last days at work in December confirming the most exciting piece of work yet. I can’t say anymore about it until everyone at the company know’s it’s happening, but I can’t wait to start.
In amongst time on Fieldwork I’ve had plenty of other projects on the go. There were two highlights. The first, producing and hosting a month of events in October with Jim Stephenson. The theme was the paranormal, and it brought together so many of my interests. We had a couple of panel/speaker nights with some brilliant guests talking about photography, provoking people’s emotions using sound, vision and stories. We pretty much sold out the Duke of Yorks with our screening of Ghostwatch and panel discussion with the writer and director. It was a real pleasure to be in the company of some amazing creative people for the month.
One of the highlights was working with my brother and Emily on Two Knocks for yes. We filled a church with a hundred people, smoke, smells, sounds, visuals and some other surprises. Simon performed his scary radiophonic style Two Knocks for yes piece, James Burt spoke about the mythology around death and water, and I hosted the night. I loved every minute of being involved and I’m hoping we will do more in 2016.
The second highlight of the year was Beyond Work, my long running photographic project. A piece of Fieldwork was put on hold in October, and it gave me the opportunity to focus on Beyond Work. In the space of a month I’d produced 3 zines and had another 2 on the way.
Most importantly it reminded me about why I’m doing what I’m doing. It reminded me of what was at the core of Fieldworks purpose and in fact my purpose. I ended up writing quite a bit about it, which really helped with my thinking and the development of Fieldwork. My last day of work during 2015 was spent shadowing an actor, John Prior playing Santa Claus, which will form the start of my work with John over 2016.
Pleasantly weaved throughout the year have been many hikes, wild camps, runs, cycle rides, improv practice and time with friends.
This year I’ve had more moments than I would have liked invaded by anxiety and panic attacks. Before having them I’d heard people talk about them, but never fully understood what they actually felt like. The best way I can describe them is this. I have this overwhelming feeling to escape, I could be having a coffee with a friend or a client, I could be in an improv rehearsal, I could be having people round for dinner. But, I can’t really escape, because the thing, whatever it is, is inside me. I have to ride it out, keep myself calm, breathe and hope it passes. This is easier when it happens around people I know well, and a lot harder when I’m around strangers. Right now my life is immersed in mindfulness, I’m hoping it helps.
I’m not mentioning this for any reason apart from that it is part of my life. I’ve seen many good people consumed by this sort of thing, and the worst thing to do is to try and hide it. I spent years at the Samaritans listening to people that had no one else to talk to. I count myself very lucky to be surrounded my amazing friends that I trust enough to talk about these things. Along with all the other things going on, I have a lot of hope for 2016.