29 March 2011

Chewy Chicken

Don't you hate it when you look forward to a meal and after everything, it turns out the ingredients are sub-par so no matter how much love you add or how well you follow the recipe, the dish is going to suck. I'm currently eating some chicken that is extremely chewy which is annoying because I really felt like chicken today and here I am semi-forcing myself to chew through it because I don't want to waste food.

Recently, I've been having to deal with many situations where it wasn't the situation I was in that was irritating, but the people I was dealing with that were pushing my buttons. I've discovered one thing I really dislike is a person without drive. Basically a person who can't be bothered to help him-/herself and expects others to take care of him/her. It's one thing to need help because you're helpless, it's another to need help because you can't be bothered. It's quite a sad state when a person reaches a point where they don't even find themselves useful/able to do something and just give up without even giving themselves a shot.

It reminded me once of someone I spoke to about comedy, who kept denying that they could do stand up comedy and I kept insisting that I am a firm believer that anyone can do stand up comedy, just like anyone can ride a bicycle, you just have to give yourself a chance. Later on I changed my wording and said it's a matter of respecting yourself. To deny yourself a chance to do something because you don't believe you're able to do it is really quite disrespectful to yourself. It's like being denied something because someone thinks you won't be able to do it. I mean, there have been many arguments that were started because of such attitude.

I also spoke to someone else who asked me how often it was someone new came to an open mic night at the comedy club, performed, and decided to return? The truth is, not many. Why? I suppose it's because it is very rare that a person's 1st time on stage is a home run. And most people feel defeated about this immediately. That person then asked me why I didn't try to persuade those people to give it a few more chances before they gave up. It's interesting because at that moment I felt like a person who gave up after the 1st try already wasn't the type of person that stand up comedy is for. I know sometimes people just need encouragement or a push to get passed their comfort zone, but perhaps in my life I've seen far too many people who just can't be bothered and want things handed to them. Sadly, when you sit and wait for someone to hand something to you, chances are you'll be getting leftovers or hand-me-downs.

The more I do what I do, the more I realize a person's self-confidence/respect has such great impact on what they do. I had an interview with a magazine who was doing an article about The Perfect Man and one of the points was sense of humor so they interviewed me and in the end asked me did I think sense of humor was the most important thing in a perfect man, and I had to disagree, I think it's a self-confidence that makes a person perfect. I mean not self-ego, but confidence. I'm re-reading (Well listening to since I got the audio book) Think like DaVinci because it's just such a classic and this book has been a great influence on me because it taught me one thing that I'll never forget, and that is to embrace ambiguity. Life is full of unknowns so you need to accept it. But a confident person can embrace it better because he/she is confident he/she can deal with whatever they're given. Like these last few days have really been a test of my ability to deal with the unknown. I'm sitting here dealing with chewy chicken that should have been moist (at least what I thought this morning) and a schedule that has been completely turned upside down and inside out.Darwin's quote "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." rings so true here.


14 March 2011

Sick, tired, exhausted, burnt yet happy

Well, I've done it again. I've managed to push myself too far and now I'm enjoying a state of mental burn out, a bad stomach (I've noticed that when I get too exhausted, my stomach tends to give up on being strong) and general discomfort without the ability to stay awake and alert for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Why enjoy you say? Well, I'm in this condition much like how a boxer manages to push himself to last the extra round and win the match. The past week has been a great one so at least I'm sick for a good cause.

Enjoy your next 10 days. I need my bed again :(


01 March 2011

Happy 4th Birthday to this!

WOW! I actually thought this was only the 3rd anniversary of my blog! Turns out, this is year #4! It's been 4 years since I once sat down and thought "what's the deal with this blog thing anyway?" and figured one day I'd definitely find it fascinating reading things I wrote a few years ago.
With my blog originally intended for me to just share my thoughts of what I've recently read with my future self and anyone interested, it's grown into something much more, a project-tracker where I am the project.

The weirdest thing is that something just don't change. I guess even after 4 years, I still find myself constantly challenged with the lack of time and days where I question myself and what (and most importantly why) I do... like right now, I'm 4 days late for this anniversary entry, I'm sitting in the Central MTR station, listening to some relaxing music because I'm actually quite exhausted. It's been a long day, but a fruitful day. It started with me rushing my projects and squeezing a little bit o f drum practice, before I zoomed out to do a small comedy gig for a school (which may I saw was an awesome show! The audience was fantastic! The youngsters were going nuts with some of my bits that resonated with them about their school life!) Then popped on over to my first radio interview to help promote stand up comedy in Hong Kong as well as upcoming shows, then to another radio interview to do the same. On my way back, while I was coughing on the train (recently developed a sore throat), I was wondering why I was pushing myself this way? Why jump around everywhere like this, and find myself back at home at 11pm trying to catch up on my day's workload.

It brings me back to something I wrote one of my earlier posts:
Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we've already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we're going, but we will know we want to be there.
-- Bruce Mau, "An Incompletel Manifesto for Growth"

Today in the radio interview, I was asked "so what are your goals as a comedian?" and even though I've been asked this question many many times, I still find myself goal-less. I mean, this always happens because like I said, 5 years ago, I'd have never dreamed of the goal of being a professional stand up comedian and find myself living this kind of lifestyle. So why bother trying to plan everything? Instead, I focus more on the process, each step of the way rather than the end goal. And like I said in the interview, as long as I improve every day, then I'll be just fine. As long as I'm funnier than yesterday, I'll be fine, as long as I drum better than yesterday, then I'll be fine, as long as I work better than yesterday, then I'll be fine. And this method drives me just like what Bruce Mau says, the process drives my outcome, and this in itself lets me reach places I didn't think possible because I keep my doors open to any opportunity. Had I not wanted to do this gig in the afternoon for this school, I'd never have known how deeply some of my material work with a younger audience. I mean, they do well at the comedy club, but to see some of the students laugh so hard they actually stood up cheering was something unexpected! I've never had someone actually stand up during a show because laughing sitting down didn't cut it.

Recently, I've also shifted my focus in comedy to just wanting more exposure for this small comedy scene.  The free comedy workshops, the radio interviews, the performances here and there, all add up to more and more people knowing about this new wave of comedy coming up in Hong Kong.

My daily life no longer works towards trying to achieve this and achieving that. I've slowly learnt to just accept that no day is going to be perfect and as long as I'm getting stuff done, I'm one step towards perfection. Seeing entries in my blog talk about how I'm struggling to stay afloat, then seeing entries that talk about how life is finally working smoothly, things are systematic, to my life today where I've realized things are always going to be fluid and I need to be like that too. As Bruce Lee says, Mind like water. The same way for me. I no longer find myself thinking "oh man, it's 10pm, I was supposed to get this and this and that done!! ARGH!" but I jut focus on trying to make the most effective decisions and accept whatever I can do in whatever circumstances I have. Much like how a beginner drummer might find himself stuck with trying to coordinate his limbs to play grooves, to a seasoned drummer just making sure his body functions like a perfect machine, to the jazz drummer who improvises throughout the whole song because he is above the idea of playing drums and is now playing for the music. He no longer needs to make his limbs make the movements necessary to produce the sounds, he simply makes the sounds, just like we talk without thinking how to make the sound of each letter in the word. Don't get me wrong, life is still hectic, I still burnout very often and things are still not perfect (ie. why this post is 4 days late). But at least, after 4 years, I've finally reached a point of mind like water, the connections between every aspect of my life are finally emerging and things are finally making sense. I no longer feel so much as a slave of my time and my limitations but feel more like these aspects of my life bring a new and refreshing challenge that is welcome because as Bruce Lee said and I quoted in my post before 2011 came to be:
“Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”  

And you know what? I believe I'm (still) winning :).