A couple of things have happened in the past few weeks which have caused me to pause.
About a month ago, I was in France, watching an amazing street artist, Zanzibar, perform in La Rochelle. He was basically a fantastic juggler, but his act had a lot of smart cabaret/comedic bits in it. He took over 30 min to build up his story towards his grand finale, which was juggling with swords while balancing at the top of a ladder. Several times, while explaining some of his tricks, he mentioned ‘don’t try this at home, I’m a professional’. He sometimes added ‘this is my profession, I train to do this, every day, for several years’. Many of my artist friends mention this problem, that the public doesn’t realise how much hard work and dedication goes into an act or piece of art and therefore don’t want to pay anything for it. But this wonderful street artist also said something that touched me. He was asking for applause during one of his tricks. And the crowd was just not responding. So he said ‘guys, this is not TV. I’m not on TV. You are not in front of a screen at home. I can see you. I am a person, a human, sweating my ass off to entertain you. And I love doing it! It’s my profession, it’s what I chose, I wouldn’t do anything else. But the least you guys can do is cheer for me. Show me you are here, give me some energy back.’
This is not TV. I am a person.
Those words stayed with me.
Then weeks later, I was at dance class with one of my favourite teachers. As usual, she was giving us a lot of attention and energy. Encouraging us when we were trying new things. Creating new choreography for us all the time. Challenging us and always smiling. Dancing with us every single time. But every time she taught something new, the group sighed, as if they didn’t want to learn. Every time she asked a question, the group stayed quiet. Finally she started saying ‘guys, I don’t understand what is going on. I’m giving you more challenging work because I think you can handle it, but instead of trying, you guys just look bored and annoyed. I’m giving you a lot of energy, but it’s very difficult when I get nothing back.’
This sure sounded a lot like what the street artist said.
As much as I love TV and the internet, is it possible that spending our life in front of a screen is making us forget what human relationships are about? Are we really all forgetting that humans need feedback, that relationships need input?