Crowd Control

It’s been difficult to write; all this talk of #metoo – of course I wrote a blog on that. Then deleted the whole thing. I wrote another one about different ways I’ve lost weight over the years. That’s hanging on my desktop to be revamped for when it’s appropriate. (In other words, for the next time I actually lose weight.) The one I wanted to write was the #metoo one. There are so many reasons for hanging back, for not suddenly coming out with it years later – as many reasons as there are for speaking about it. I’ve been asked about this blog in the same vein: why now? Didn’t you get it all out of your system when you did the TV programme? Here’s my answer: I’ve done my time. I’ve spent 30 years in the prison of my own secrecy. I’m fifty goddamn years old. I’ll talk about whatever the fuck I want.

I can remember my mind when I was a little girl. I floated through my life with an automatic filter on the bad stuff. It was like I had been pre-programmed to see only the good. I thought the best of you until the bad parts of you revealed themselves. And you had to work really hard to get it through to me that you didn’t like me, if that was what you felt. Most of the time – and this is still true – the signals went over my head.

I did, at age ten or eleven, however, find my first nemesis. We were too alike in our sense of our own importance, although in my defense, that didn’t necessarily mean that I considered anyone else less important. We were confident sassy girls and the clash was bound to happen. The energy between us had been dirty for some time and we tolerated each other only because of our mutual friends. One day, I decided to press all her buttons. It was fun, I won’t lie; she was brilliant in ways I could never hope to be, but I wasn’t jealous. Jesus, I didn’t want to be LIKE her; I couldn’t stand her. We were in her house. Every time she told me not to do something, I did it. If she told me not to pick up an ornament, I’d pick it up and look at her and say,
“What, this?”
I stayed calm. She went crazy. And eventually she screamed at me until her mother suggested she ask me nicely to leave her home. I left, smirking, and waited in the laneway nearby for my friends to join me. I waited long enough to realize they weren’t coming.
Life lesson: loyalty is complicated.
Soon after, we clashed again. I can’t remember how or why; it happened regularly. This time, we were in school. This time, she pressed all my buttons. She went to the bathroom and left me fuming. There was a song out at the time called ‘Gordon is a Moron’ (we may have grown up in the 70’s and 80’s, an unfortunate era for fashion and hair, but that was when Punk evolved, so yah.) I was so mad with this girl, I started singing ‘(Her Name) is a Moron’ and jumping up and down in the fashionable way of the punk rockers of our time. Some girls joined in. Within seconds, the entire class was jumping up and down singing ‘(Her Name) is a Moron’ gleefully, while I was in one part of my mind concerned that the prefab would collapse, such was the pounding and shaking of 40 pre pubescent girls acting like punks, and in the other part I was thinking,
“What have I created? I didn’t mean for this to happen. I didn’t ask anyone to join in and now the entire class is in on this. (This Girl) will be back from the loo any second and how the fuck am I going to get this monster back into its cage?”
Except I didn’t say ‘fuck’ because I was eleven. I don’t know if she did come back. I don’t know if she stood outside the door and cried. I can’t remember. No one in the class hated her. They had no reason to join me, other than the fact that they knew the song and it didn’t matter that I had changed the words to include her name. It didn’t occur to anyone (I think) other than me that this was an awful situation.
That story has bothered me for years. Right from the moment it happened it has bothered me. I didn’t want it and I didn’t mean to instigate it. I reacted and the mob went along with me. I didn’t know how to control it.
Life Lesson: Mob mentality isn’t just about the French Revolution; it’s here and now and far too easy to stoke.

I work with the energy of people; as a drama teacher I read it in order to adjust the class I’ve prepared. The energy of one person can affect the whole group, doesn’t matter if it’s giddiness or depression. It’s my job to get everyone on the same level; bring some up, bring some down. It’s not my business what’s going on in your head, it’s my business to bring you back into the moment of the lesson and keep you there, focused and connected with your group. That’s what warm ups are all about; shake off the trials of your day – don’t bring your problems in here and smudge everyone else with them: get over it now for the sake of the group. That said, drama class is a very comfortable place to share your worries and your woes, but later on in the session, and not from an un-tethered mind. I love that drama disciplines people so. I love that we become unselfish, that we understand inherently that we are held by the group, that there is support, but that we can’t come in all crumbly and messy; we must first bring the best of us to the circle we stand in: we spend time centering ourselves physically and mentally for a reason. Improvisational exercises force us to step outside of our comfort zones and sets us on the edge, all the better to give and take whatever occurs during our time together. I love that studying a character puts you in the mind of another life in another situation; a new and heretofore unconsidered perspective.

I was asked yesterday if I like people. I love people. If you plopped me into a room full of strangers I’d have no issue working my way through them, fascinated by their ways – endearing or odd, it wouldn’t matter, and I’d make friends. I might come out of a room of a hundred people with just one new friend but the value I’d put on that would be huge. I’d still miss it if you were genuinely dissing me – my own theory is that I simply wouldn’t want to see it – things still go over my head. I still have filters but I am perceptive: I can read a room in a nanosecond and I’ll spot my future friend in the next moment.

I can do all these things but I can’t tell you about my #metoo stories. Why? It’s complicated. Do you need to know them? Haven’t you got enough of your own? I will say this: it takes years to read people, to understand a situation and how say something without words. My God, if I knew then what I know now, I’d slay! But then there would be no evolvement of mind, or spirit or even body. However, here’s the rub: I believe we can use our stories – told or untold – to help our society to evolve. Some will be swayed without even thinking about it. It’s up to us, as thinkers, to help the majority to sway in the right direction. It may go over your head, but if you decide, one day, to focus and tune in, it’s very easy to find support and control the crowd.

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