Crossroads

I’ve not written anything down in a while, a bit longer than I’d have liked to because no matter what I tried to write down, nothing seemed to be what I wanted to say.

Life has taken another standstill. The much anticipated notion of moving down to Manchester has been culled with one fell swoop. I’m back to re-examining a life in Edinburgh, where I’m still trying to find out where I am, who I am, where I belong and what I want to do.

I’m feeling pretty lost.

Lost as a person, as a creative, as a writer and as an actor. As a friend, as a brother, as a son, as an employee, I’m not really sure where I fit into this jumble of things that seems to be happening around me but which I don’t feel I really feel involved in.

I guess this is my moment of post-university-emptiness. My comfort blanket has been taken away from me, and now I have to stand on my own, and I don’t know if I’m ready for that. I don’t know what my next step is because, just when I feel like I’ve worked something out, that assuredness that I’ve had is taken away.

How can we pick ourselves back up if it feels like people keep failing us?

How do we keep ourselves going if we aren’t sure what we’re going towards?

How do we know if the choices that we are unconsciously making are going to allow us to consciously make the right choices later on?

How can we keep faith that things will make sense, if we aren’t sure that what we’ve believed in is right for us anymore?

How do we build new relationships with other people, when we aren’t even sure of the relationship which we have with ourself?

How do we say the things we want to say, when there seem to be no words to describe the way we feel?

How do we answer a set of questions which we’re not sure we want to know the answer to. Full stop. Not a question.

edinburgh-nightlife-800x450

A place to call home

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to be. Not career wise, not in my love life, or in any part of my five year plan. I mean physically, where I want to be.

I’ve always been the kind of person who loves the hustle and bustle of city life. For me, the quiet retreat in the countryside, the home down in the border villages between Scotland and England or the quaint farmhouse that could be renovated to be a “beautiful and rural home” are my idea of hell. I love everything about urban life. The sprawling metropolis of the city, the rude people you run into in the street, the small lanes that link seemingly distant streets together, the tall buildings, the noises of the traffic in the city centre, the way that you can run into people you haven’t seen in as long as you can remember, and more than anything else – the way that you can so easily lose yourself in the crowd.

I think for me, this is the real reason I love the city. Because you can lose yourself, you can get lost in your thoughts, in the mass of people, in everything that surrounds you.

Now let me explain where Edinburgh fits into this. I grew up on the outskirts of Edinburgh, near to what was once a village area called Corstorphine. I met my best friends in Corstorphine, I went to school there, I started my first job there, my family all live there, I have some of the best memories of my teenage years back in Corstorphine. But Corstorphine wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to be somewhere a bit busier, a bit more bustling, so a few months before my 21st birthday, I decided to move into a flat right in the centre of town. I hoped this would make me feel more at ease, more like I belonged in a city where I didn’t feel like I wanted to be, and for the first few months – I did. I felt like I belonged. I started to enjoy being in Edinburgh. Then that feeling of ease, that feeling of belonging started to fade, and I felt like I had merely moved a desire to escape right into the centre of the city where I was trying to escape. I couldn’t lose myself in the crowd. The streets were quieter than I thought they would be. The bar downstairs was only busy at weekends. The local bars I’d meet my friends in were usually dead. I had just as much time to think, the city didn’t speak to me the way that I had hoped it would.

Which gets me to the point I’m at now. Having just finished University, moved into a flat by myself, and working the same job I’ve had for the past 3 and a half years but with no desire to progress up the corporate ladder, I keep thinking it might be time to move. To go. To make that big leap I have been up until now, unable to make. I’ve started to feel like I’m tying up loose ends in this city in preparation for a big start, for something new. There is nothing keeping me here. No relationship, no education, no mortgage, no business. I have no ties for the first time in my life that keep me here.

The only question is where to go.

One of my best friends has told me time and time again that I should move down to be near him, down near Manchester, which he thinks I might enjoy so much more than Edinburgh. I’m tempted. I really am. There’s a part of me that thinks that Manchester might be a good place to be, or well, at least to be next to.

Then there are my other friends that think that moving to London might be a good move for my career, for me to try and get involved in the career I want to be doing. To meet the right contacts, and to find places to create that I’m finding very hard to get involved with in Scotland.

Don’t get me wrong. There are great Scottish theatre jobs. There are great Scottish theatre companies I’d be lucky to work with. I just think that my problem is I would love to work with them, but without being stuck in Edinburgh.

For 11 months of the year, Edinburgh is Edinburgh. It is a city which can celebrate on occasion, and where people are friendly and welcoming. Then for one month of the year, the Fringe Festival takes over, and culture invades Edinburgh. For one month of the year, Edinburgh is a different city entirely. It is a new place to explore, to discover. That one month of the year is the time I like Edinburgh.

And all of this has got me thinking about home. About this notion that home is a place where we go and feel safe, comfortable and feel like we belong. There are so many people out there like me, vagabonds in a sense, that wander or desire to wander from place to place to find something new. Are we ever truly home, or are we always living a life between homes? They say that life is about the journey, not the destination. If we find a place where we want to stay, and never move, are we living or just existing? How much can we ever truly experience if we never ask ourselves “What if I went there instead..?”

I need to make that change.

socialmedia-video-by-above

Social Media

I spend a lot of my time thinking about our relationship with social media, of how we allow it to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, and find ourselves growing more and more detached from that initial connection which we feel when we meet someone in the flesh.

When I began work on Tagged, it started as a response to social media. A way for me to put my opinions, thoughts and feelings down on the page, and to see what theatrically I could make of it. In doing this, I started to understand something, started to feel something about my relationship with social media which I hadn’t really considered before.

I find it hard to connect with new people. The thought of talking to people in a bar, or in a club that I don’t know makes me feel quite intimidated. In a way, I’m lucky in that my training as an actor has allowed me to hide this fact, to come across as being all positive and open to new people. The reality is though, I’m as insecure about that initial meeting as anyone else is.

I think that, to a large degree, my relationship with social media has stopped me from overcoming this, as I have this connection to people online which I feel I am in some way, in control of.

This afternoon I watched a video. I don’t know if anyone else has seen it, but it is by a street artist called Above, and in it, he paints street art about our relationship with social media.

Above

I think that this, in a way, highlights the same views I have on social media. We allow it to infiltrate our lives at our most private, we post about arguments, about births, deaths, anniversaries, when our children first walk, talk, start school, get married, have children. All these moments are ones that we should live, experience and remember for being there, but we jump straight onto a social network to inform everyone else that these things have happened. It distances us from that life changing thing that has just happened.

We base our connections on how much we can read about people that we barely know, we allow people that never spoke to us in school to be our “friend” when they never had the time of day for us. We carefully consider how we say things so as not to offend, or so as to come across in our best possible way. We try to be people that we aren’t, because we want the people that don’t know us to like us.

I guess what i’m asking, or wondering is why we do these things? Why do we engage in destructive, isolating behaviour because it will look good on a news feed? Why do we check in at bars, at clubs, at home, out with friends, to make us seem like we have more of a connection when we could easily just be living that connection? Why do we rush to upload our pictures, and tag them the morning after the night before, when we could be lying in bed, feeling hungover and enjoying the memory of the great night that came before. Why do we change our relationship statuses from single to in a relationship to its complicated to in a relationship to single to married to divorced, just because we’ve argued with our partner? Why do we try to make a theatrical statement about our lives online, when by courting the drama, we are only encouraging ourselves to create more of it.

Why do we allow social networks to infiltrate our lives so strongly that we end up feeling isolated, unhappy and disconnected, all because people haven’t liked or commented on our statuses.

Why do we base our value and how we feel as a human being on our followers or our friends list, instead of basing it on our achievements and experiences.

If there’s one thing I learned from working on Tagged, it was that we need to appreciate the moments when they happen, and not be so keen to post them online. So if anyone reads this, do one thing. Just one thing, that’s all I ask.

Text or call your best friend or friends. Arrange one night where you go out for dinner, or drinks, or even just meet up in your or their flat and have a good catch up.

Don’t post anything about it on Facebook. Don’t check your phones every 5 minutes, don’t check in, don’t tweet about it, don’t take pictures of it to upload for later. Just live it, experience it, and remember it.

It’ll make you ask yourself how much time you spent doing all those social media things, when you could have just been spending them living life and making real connections.

Inspiration

This weekend I set down to write, to try to put down on paper exactly how I was thinking and feeling at the time.

Yet for some reason, I couldn’t.

And I got to thinking about inspiration, about that vital spark that makes us want to create or develop new ideas, thoughts or opinions into a larger thing. Last week we finished the run of Tagged at the Fringe – my first professional acting job and my first play I’ve written – and somehow when writing Tagged, it was so easy. I was inspired to create, to write, to devise this piece of theatre.

Now I don’t know where to start.

Why is it that inspiration strikes us at the most unexpected moments? Why, when we have a desire to create, do we sometimes not have the words to describe exactly what it is we want to say?

So that is why I’ve called this blog Seeking Direction. I hope that in some way, I can collect different thoughts, opinions, ideas, pictures, memories or moments that stimulate my creativity. Things that help to give me direction artistically, and personally.

And I’ve chosen a balloon theme for two reasons. One, because a balloon is free to go wherever the world may take it – an idea I’m thinking of more and more recently. And secondly, for my friend Amy, who has asked me to contribute to a piece of theatre she is devising. Those balloons remind me of two important parts of my career so far, and I hope will motivate me to create many more important moments.

- Craig

A collection of thoughts and ideas that might inspire me

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: