Sometimes, there are moments when I feel extraordinarily pleasant about being in a situation. Sometimes, these situations seem too good to be true, they make me wonder if I am in a dream and am going to rudely wake up or if I am the subject of a prank.
Sometimes, I know deep down that the moment is genuine and yet there is a part of me holding me down, telling me in a whisper ‘dont get carried away’. Yet it is so hard not to feel happy about it and so hard not to give yourself a pat on the back and tell yourself “that was good”.
It has been over a year and a half since my last performance on stage and even as recently as a week or two ago, a stranger walked upto me and told me they loved my performance. I politely smile and say thank you. They go on to explain how extraordinarily funny they thought my portrayal of the old man was. I smile once again and say “thank you”.
This is the point when I usually remember every small error I did that evening. Zip back to the present and they ask me when my next performance is, I make a small frown and say that I am not working on anything right now. I add “hopefully I will do one in a month or so”, thats the white lie I tell even myself. Deep down I know my next play can be a week away or a year and I probably wont know for sure.
Then they walk away, muttering “awesome… so funny” under their breadth… And I walk away with a small smile on my face.
I cant handle compliments, I have always believed they make me weak and have always been wary of them. There are very few compliments that I would let to truly sink in, everything else I make a honest attempt to shrug it off as the moment passes.
I have always measured the person who gives the compliment and check to see if they are doing so to make me feel good or if they truly felt what they said. Sometimes its just too obvious when someone is trying to be nice, sometimes it is harder…
The best compliments I have received have been from strangers. The idea that someone who wouldn’t have usually said a word to me, walks upto me and utters the compliment is the absolute satisfaction.
A week or so ago I walked into a empty classroom followed by a bunch of strangers. We were attending a story telling workshop. In the five hours we spent together I hardly made an attempt to start a meaningful conversation with anyone(this is a problem I have had since I was much younger). A few people started friendly conversations with me and I too asked them questions about their lives but with short breaks it was hard to have a long conversation.
The talk was great and I was simply happy to be a part of an unique event. Then towards the end we were all asked to volunteer to tell stories based on the ideas and suggestions from the speakers. I initially came up with a story but gave up when I couldn’t fix a few of its parts. Meanwhile, on stage came performer after performer, each one telling their stories in a unique way. I sat quietly admiring their talents, when the idea hit me. I thought about it for a moment or two and then simply volunteered.
I remember as I took the center-stage, I told myself “the story is good, dont worry just be clear”. A few seconds into my story I saw the first pair of eyes widen… then there was giggle and then huge laughter. As I narrated a story which each of them had heard a million times already(ok I exaggerate maybe it was a thousand times), I could feel the aura of pleasure spread in the room. This was when I decided to do a bit of showmanship and started making brave attempts at humor… They worked! At one point I saw one of members of the audience grab onto their seat coz they were collapsing with laughter! Then I went for the kill and hit them with the finish…
Ten seconds later I simply stood up and walked back to my seat, Lesson #1 of showmanship, if they love you always leave them wanting for more. The guest speaker was very impressed with my attempt and gave me a few pointers about what worked for me. I was just happy that it wasn’t a disaster.
Then we took a tea break, that was when the full impact of my performance hit me. Almost everyone walked up to me and told me how much they loved the story, people were asking me if I have any background in the art-form and what I did for a living and what my hobbies were? There was one point where I felt, woah was that performance even that good?
There is an old saying I really like, “once a problem is solved it always seems trivial”. I guess these experiences are a testament to that. Almost everything that has brought me a rain of compliments initially seemed like a mountain to climb. Once at the peak, I always looked back to see where I could have been better and every time someone reminds me about that accomplishment I always remember the mistakes that happened along the way. Dont get me wrong, the satisfaction is always there but so is the fear that I might want to settle down to previously achieved laurels.
I have always believed that two things can destroy the ambition in a human, Past Failures and Past Victories. Past failures need to be always treated as lessons not guilt trips. Past victories deserve to be celebrated in the past, they are honest reminders that beyond fear there is always victory.