And leave the house. Always leave the house. There’s a whole world beyond your front door, and on those occasions when you’re thinking ‘should I, shouldn’t I?’ GO!
Here’s a story. Two years ago I was trying to break back in to directing. Uncle Simon wanted me to get involved in a huge theatre project called ‘Chaosbaby.’ I was nervous. I’d done no theatre stuff for quite some time. What if everyone thought I was a loser? Not as good as them. Clueless.
Simon was going to be there for the whole day. My safety net. I was joining him in the afternoon, after work. Mid-morning he sent me a text.
“Got called in to work this afternoon. But you should still go.”
I made my mind up. I wasn’t going. No way. I couldn’t go on my own, without my friend. What would I say to people? What if they didn’t like me? Or I didn’t fit in.
I was on my way home (not to Chaosbaby) when Simon texted.
“I’ve left your memory card with Stella. Don’t forget to ask her for it.”
Argh yikes. I was going to have to go. Simon had, had my memory card for ages, I needed it back and he’d left it with Stella, and she was someone I’d never met at this Chaosbaby ‘thing’. And now I HAD to go.
I made a plan, I decided I’d go, get the memory card, make my excuses and leave. I’m a bit shy and the thought of all those new people was too scary.
I got there, got my memory card, got roped in to dancing a tango, went to the pub, got a bit pissed. Went back the next month, and the next, and then carried on going every month for a year and a half. Then made a show with the Chaosbabies and the rest, as they say, is history.
I made some of my closest friends working on the Chaosbaby Project. I was Shakabukud by the Buddists among them (becoming a Buddhist myself) and now have met many other great new friends through my Buddhist Practice, as well as having begun to transform my life (I really have). I met my current housemates and have found myself in a wonderful house. I regained my confidence and gave up directing, but returned to the stage as an actor (I’d given up hope on this years ago.) 18 months after walking in to that room, just to pick up my memory card, I had my first EVER press night in London, performing alongside many I’d met in Chaosbaby. They’re more than just people I met on a project, they’re my London family. They’re hugely important in my life. Hurrah for Simon leaving my memory card with Stella.
I was telling my Buddhist / theatre friend Sarah all about this last night. She pointed out: ‘Wow, so if you hadn’t have gone in that room, you’d have never known what you’d have missed.’ And for a second I felt horribly sad, imagining the parallel, momentarily feeling as though it had been snatched away: Alice waking up on the riverbank. And then realised, I’m here, living it. It’s all good. Of course, I very much believe this was always all meant to be; my life turned in a new, wonderful direction, on a single moment. One small decision, one moment of bravery, pushing the buzzer on a door in Deptford. Waiting for an answer. Not running away. Some things will scare you. Do them anyway, because you may never know the twists and turns they may take you on if you can just manage to summon up that ounce of courage.
A Chaosbaby Rehearsal. Photo by Jenifer Toksvig.