Sunday, November 25, 2012

And then it was gone

After three months in Sydney, Cirque was leaving again.

I had been through this before, but this departure was very different to my past experiences.  I was happy and actually relieved that they were leaving.  This stint with Cirque had not been the joyous experience that I had been expecting when I signed on for another spin.

However, seeing the tents slowly going down still made me feel sad.  It wasn't the sadness that this particular show was leaving, but rather the sadness in knowing that this was Cirque itself that was leaving my life.  I would not be working for Cirque again, that much I knew.  From this point onward, I would only ever be one of the paying patrons.  I would not be one of the insiders, I wouldn't be able to see the workings of the shows with that deeper understanding that comes only from having seen the show and its preparation countless times.  Cirque had become intertwined with my young life, so in many ways this goodbye to Cirque was also a farewell to a part of myself.

The goodbye with Cirque isn't slow either.  From the outside, there is surprisingly little that changes up until the end of the last show.  As far as the paying customer is concerned, nothing is out of the ordinary and walking into the final show will appear little different to the first.  Small changes are occurring though and once the final patron is out the gates, a torrent of new workers suddenly appear to begin the task of deconstructing the entire site. Standing inside, you can literally feel the walls around you falling and the ground underneath your feet being removed.  Frames are dismantled and storage chests are filled.

When you are working for Cirque, there is a permanency about it. It is built to feel like it belongs to its location, to feel like it has always belonged to that location.  But it's a lie.  None of it was ever meant to remain.  Yet in many ways, it is merely a condensed version of what we face in everything we do.  Even the most permanent of relationships and enterprises that we may create, only last for the briefest periods of time.  A home will only last as long as it is filled with family.  A career will only last as long as you are there.  Friendships only last as long as you allow them to.

As I stood outside of the front gates, watching the construction workers swarming in to pull the tents apart, I already felt distant from it all.  The tents had already been emptied and most of the staff were gone.  All that was left was the shell.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Simple magic

I always viewed myself as having a more refined sense of culture than most others in my own generation.  This over inflated sense of pretension was quickly destroyed when I visited the opera in Vienna.  Before the first act was over, I quickly realised that the opera was not for me.  Chris and I stood up, walked out the back and straight to the coat check girl and asked for our jackets.

"There is still another act" she said to us in a kind but also strangely patronising tone (this was clearly something that she had been required to inform other less informed patrons in the past).

"We know.  Give us our coats." was our response.

We took our coats, walked out into the cold evening air of Vienna and quickly found somewhere to get horrendously drunk.

We were backpacking at the time, so I use that as my excuse for my lack of interest in the finer musical arts.

Since that time, my interaction with the finer musical arts has been limited.

This was all about to change though as I was going to spend an evening at the symphony.
A symphony playing music from cartoons, but it was still the symphony!

I had finally, after many years, managed to go and see a performance in the Sydney Opera House.  This most iconic of Australian landmarks had been so close to me for so long and it was only now that I was taking up the opportunity to enjoy its proper use.  Like most natives to a country and city, I had experienced surprisingly little of where I lived whilst yearning to see the world.

I don't think I could have chosen a better moment either.
Seeing the symphony playing the music to the Pixar cartoons was incredible.  Combining cartoons with the symphony had clearly worked as a method of gaining some much needed popular support for the symphony, but no one seemed to be concerned with this.  I liked Pixar as well, so there really weren't many problems at all with this marriage.

The emotional impact of the songs took me by surprise and I struggled to keep myself composed when they played the music to "Up" with the montage of the Carl and Ellie's life being played on the big screen in the background.  By the end of the song and the montage, the music of the symphony faded to the sounds of most of the audience either crying or gently sobbing.

Waking dreams

There is something horrifying about not being able to sleep.

As you lay in your bed, hoping for the relief that comes with losing consciousness, knowing that insomnia is striking creates a rising fear and stress that pulls you further from what you need.  The counterproductive thoughts and terrors begin to grow and it isn't long before my sleeping has become a fiction.  I am merely laying in my bed, forcing my body to remain motionless in an attempt to lie to my mind to convince it to accept something that will not come.  It's like a sick attempt at bargaining with my own mind, I refuse to open my eyes, knowing that this will only waken me further.

Eventually I fail though.  I open my eyes and I look at the clock.  Minutes pass and so do hours.  It isn't even clear to me whether I have slept or if I have merely lost the ability to comprehend the movement of time.

I always close my eyes again, and sleep finally comes, but it's too late.  Too many of the precious hours have slipped by and I only receive a small fraction of what I need.  It is a strange form of torture, it is like a dying man in the desert, desperate for water, receiving only the smallest of mouthfuls, only just enough to sustain them through the agony, long enough to reach that next precious moment when they can finally satiate their thirst.