I have recently become extremely interested in how we document all that we do.
I am fascinated with our current cultural practices with social media in which we continually post pictures of our experiences, achievement, and questions. And, I have noticed a new practice for the way I post. I ask myself: what do I value and how is my post supporting the things I value?
For instance, I recently attended a beautiful dance concert in at ARC Pasadena. It was important to me to come home and immediately write up my review. Even though I wasn't feeling particularly prolific at the time, I wanted to demonstrate just how valuable I felt the experience was by using my time and skill to support it. The blog post offered the community two things: the face value of the performance review as documentation, and, on a more general level, proof that this event was worth writing about. In other words, it was worth my time. By giving my time and attention to the art (in the form of a review), I was modeling how dance is worth putting in the extra time.
As tempting as it is in the blogging world, I try not to use my reviews to elevate myself or my opinions. Instead, I am concerned with the documentation of current dance practices in LA (and beyond) and how written reports and reviews support current dance artists. Speaking as an artist, I can share that the post show stream of "Great job!", "Fun show," and similar comments of Twitter or Facebook feel good. They feel good because it is feedback that someone took the time to give. But, they do not offer the much needed reflection dance deserves. In fact, much of a dance performance's value could come from the discussion and sensations afterward. If we only experience dance for two hours and then leave the theater without a second thought, have we really gotten all we can out of the art form?
When we see a movie, we often deepen our experience when we then discuss it with our friends afterward, or read reviews of it by trusted sources, or watch the feature commentary by the director and actors. In other words, our post-show time is important. It gives value to the art experience. And, this is what I am coming to realize is lacking in the dance world. We see a show and often we don't have post show experiences that take us deeper into the art work. Just as sport show commentators break down all the plays to better understand the twists and turns in a game, dance critics should be breaking down a dance work to identify its inner workings, strengths and weaknesses, innovations and traditions. This can afford those interested but unfamiliar with dance an inside look to the dance experience, while challenging veteran dance patrons to pin point the value of what they love so much.
As I wrote my recent review, I was concerned with three things.
1. How can I deepen the experience for someone who has seen the show?
2. How can I document the experience for posterity?*
3. How can I best convey the reward of the dance experience?
I gave my time, because my time is the most valuable currency I have. It is a limited resource that I am very aware of day in and day out. If you haven't guessed already, I am pretty busy, some might say over committed (haha!). I don't have a lot of "free time," that time is precious to me.
So, what is worth my time? What is worth taking my time to document and reflect. What is worth your time? How are you canonizing your life? One Instagram at a time? One twitter post? One Facebook update? What is that affording you? What does documentation afford us?
Are your giving your time and attention to the things you truly love? I find that scrolling through my Vine feed (for instance) affords me little more than a distraction. I have also noticed, my quality of life seems to go down when I get too invested in following my Facebook news feed. Not because I don't have good friends with interesting posts, but because ultimately, very little information is life changing. And, it uses up my most valuable resource all too easily.
I understand that you are taking your time to read this blog post. And, I am honored by your choice. I hope that I afford you something that you will take with you as you go along your day or week. I hope that this read is ultimately worth your time because you either love dance, the arts or entertaining vague questions about time and value.
There is a great book by Tim Ferris called "The 4 hour Work Week." While I am not interested in changing my life to that degree, he does bring up some important points about time management and the value of our time. Perhaps reading that book last spring planted the seed for this blog. But, in the end, Ferris is right about one thing. We choose how to use our time.
So, are you using your time for the things your love? To support the things you love? To honor and deepen your understanding of yourself and the world? Or are you getting caught in the white noise of empty information?
* Side note: the definition of posterity is "for all future generations." What are we giving our next generation? How are we making real what we experience as life through our documentation of it? Are we getting to the nitty-gritty of it all? What will people know about me when they look back at my Twitter feed? Am I giving them a complete experience of who I am? Or would entering my world be like entering a house of hoarders?