What to do?

The Economics of Happiness sounds like an irritatingly nice subject for a documentary – like a well meaning cheery-faced parent trying to feed a baby fruit when all it really wants is to have the ice cream. Just feed me the crap please-that is what I enjoy!
To be honest I missed the first half an hour and began to tire of the same globalisation issues quickly – land grabbing, resource contamination, food and energy waste, human rights abuses, worker exploitation, externalised corporate costs, soil depletion, farmer suicides. Usually the documentary ends and the audience is left feeling trapped in a system too overwhelming to change and the inevitable what do we do then? sentiments in the Q&A are answered with some vague general idea leaving us none the clearer.
At least with this documentary the second half was spent identifying solutions and practical localised action currently taking place. These small grassroots organisations, while seemingly insignificant to the size and power of multi-nationals, had all the stamps of commitment to sustainability over profit (perhaps the soft feathered power in their fledgling wings) – fair trade, ethical, animal welfare, organic, micro-finance schemes led by local people, food sovereignty ( le Via campesina).
Helena Norberg-Hodge, producer of the film, spoke afterwards about the “drone effect” prevalent in big business where our corporate arm has become so long we can’t see and therefore be responsible for the actions of the hand. A neat way of visualising a core systematic problem at the heart of many globalisation issues. She was positive about the smattering of small but successful progress cropping up all over the world and has a list of actions individuals can take or become involved in on her website here.
All I can add – which is to be taken with a pinch, since I am still a frustrated meandering career denialist bordering on my 30’s – is try and have the courage to do what really makes you happy in a meaningful and fulfilled way before you have a family to take care of! – take that risk sooner rather than later – or you are probably heading for a midlife crisis. We need more artists, initiators, inventors, entrepreneurs, risk takers, pioneers, adventurers, explorers in the world.
I was told a story today about a guy who went into a recruitment office when he first moved down to Bristol with dreds and the guy behind the desk looked him up and down in that way. They got talking and after 5 mins the man in the suit said, “Listen when you first walked in here I was only going to give you 30 seconds of my time but since talking to you I can see you’ve got a lot more going on in there than might look. It is as simple as this – What do you want to do? Now I’ve got an expensive wife, mortgage and three children and this job is not what I want to do. Now walk out of this door and go and do what you want to do.” As simple and as chirpily grating as the economics of happiness sound – a leap of faith, a salary cut and less boozing will be the worst of it and better, healthier more lively conversation, lifestyle and work the results. Go to escape the city / do the artists way / see a therapist / or keep it simple and just start blogging about or make time for what you love.

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What are you trying to say?

“What are you trying to say?” is a self conscious expose of the tangle and knots we get ourselves in, over the gnawing fear of failure (fettered by hopes of success) in the creative process.┬áSimply by being explored on stage the audience is immediately confronted with what this looks and feels like, when if we had a choice we might prefer to look away. Opening with the creative void of making something out of nothing, the familiar cliches and motions of not quite being able to put your finger on what are you trying to achieve is acted out to impressive exactness, provoking outbursts of embarrassed laughter as the audience relates. Hannah Kew and Isabelle Cressy delve into the question of boundaries, wrestling between the fear of either being too restrained and risking boredom or being limitless in the extreme, through a mixture of discussion and monologue mirrored by often squirming, volatile, awkward, boundless dance. In the end it poses the question whether we can really fail when “What makes meaningful art?” is fully participating in the creative process, pure enthusiasm, whether the end result receives a welcome response or not.

Look out for further development of PINCH Productions “What are you trying to say?” with support from Bristol Ferment and the Bristol Old Vic.