2017 has been anything but easy. And it has been nothing short of amazing.
It seems that I have been kicked down several times, only to discover doors that I hadn’t realized were there before. Extreme lows have been met with extreme highs. Just when I felt things ripping apart, things that I had worked hard for and felt entitled to, I was handed more than what I’d had in the first place.
This year I have been faced with obstacles that have challenged me to open my mind, find flexibility, and to give during times when I was most afraid for myself. I have been evicted from my home, completely relocated, lived with family, and joined several new communities. I was rejected for apartments, festivals, showcases and grants. My car has broken down and been broken into. Relationship tensions have flared and calmed and flared again. And dammit, I got a bad review!
After all of this, I believe I have made the most important discovery of my life thus far: the power of community.
The satisfaction of giving to a group, and then recieving when in need. Knowing that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! More than a career can give, more than money can provide, I feel like I may have just come face to face with one of life’s greatest lessons: to give and to receive support in a community of people that you truly belong to is essential. Life is going to throw so much shit at you, whether you’re ready or not. It’s not personal, it’s just the way it is. Community is the great antidote.
Example: This past weekend, we brought Arcturus to Ontario Contact, a major networking conference for artists and people working in the touring performing arts sector. We were new, nervous, and unsure of what to expect. All we could do was know our shit, bring our best marketing materials, and be ourselves, just happy to be there.
Over the course of the weekend we got to witness world class talent, chat with presenters from all across Ontario, and build relationships. It quickly became apparent that this was not a big, impersonal conference filled with sales pitches and competition. It was a gathering of like-minded people, of friends, committed to keeping the arts alive in communities across Ontario. We quickly felt right at home. We were exhausted, but we could have stayed for a week.
On the last night of the conference (this past weekend), we returned to find the back windshield of our car smashed and several bags gone (including a laptop). Now, we made the choice to pursue a career as artists, and sometimes that means money is tight, and that’s a choice that we have learned to embrace. But conferences are not cheap, and we had made sacrifices to be there. Seeing that broken glass drove home how many more sacrifices we might have to make and a familiar numb acceptance started to set in.
When the police showed up, it attracted some attention from other conference attendees. Some bought us drinks, and many shared similar stories of losing equipment to theft at gigs or on tour. Someone provided a roll of duct tape to attach a garbage bag to cover the window. And we laughed because, with some distance, it was pretty ridiculous. We spent the night eating and dancing. And somewhere in all of this, a new friend passed a hat around the room and raised enough money to cover our deductible for the windshield. They hugged us and told us we were not alone.
And just like that we were family. Knit into the fabric of that community as if we had been friends for years. In another place I would have been angry, would have felt like I just couldn’t catch a break, convinced that the universe was willing this on me, personally. But in that room, surrounded by all that love given freely and without hesitation, we were fine. Fine! Once again given more than we lost, because they gave so much more than money.
With some luck we will share our work with members of this community, and many others, over the next year. And the weekend of Ontario Contact 2018 is undoubtedly reserved. Not just to book shows but to see our friends. The rest will take care of itself.