Saturday, December 29, 2012

(re)-hello, world

So, a small close-to-New-Year resolution/experiment to start writing a blog again.  Reading through it recently made me think my life was previously rather exciting, and the lack of recent entries makes me wonder if my life is now rather less exciting, but perhaps these are causal in the counter-intuitive direction and there is something about the art of public diarying (as opposed to "proper blogging" about politics or suchlike) that is good for you, your sense of place in the world and luck to be living in it.

I suppose "dance, books, coffee breaks and fish" is no longer quite as apt as perhaps "another upper middle class day", however I think I had better desist from such a depressing tagline and get as much dance, coffee breaks and fish into this as I'm able.  Here goes nothing!

I have sadly not seen very much live dance recently -- in fact I've been to the theatre more, with recent trips to the NT to see two very different plays: Scenes from an Execution and The Magistrate.  The first, thought provoking and such a tour de force of acting, but quite frankly a little bit "up itself" for my taste although perhaps that is just me being a philistine.  The second, some lovely light entertainment and also it was nice to see an all singing all dancing John Lithgow on stage (good plummy English accent).  Truly gorgeous sets, so intricately and vibrantly designed and with some whizz bang motors revolving things and unfolding things all over the place.  It made me think that dance just doesn't do clever enough things with sets, or at least I've not seen very much dance that does -- we are usually too obsessed with having enough space to jete.  So much potential there, not just for narrative dances but also incredible stagecraft ideas, I can just see dancers clambering all over bits of moving set everywhere... (expensive, I'm sure, and in need of an extremely gung ho set designer/technical team).

Really must go and see more dance, I've had tickets to multiple things this year but work and various personal emergencies got in the way and I missed the Royal Ballet's Titian tribute as well as Cedar Lake and also Ballet Black.  Gutted!  Must make more of an effort...  Perhaps to make up for it I started watching the Nutcracker on YouTube this Christmas and funnily enough my three year old nephew got well into it and is now even doing pirouettes all over the place.  I am rather pleased with this, even though his uncle's response is that he needs more male influence in his life :)

Even doing dance is happening a little -- CCD has made a little dance film of a piece that Merrilees made earlier in the year, which has been lots of fun.  Trying to see if we can hatch plans for a proper performance next year.  It would be utterly fantastic to get the company back into real performing mode, so I'm very keen, but we will have to make sure we have enough producing capacity to make it happen (I'm fairly confident we will find enough keen dancers which is wonderful).

Quiet: The Power of Introverts
Recent and rather atypical read on my trusty Kindle (which is stuffed with novels and occasional history books brought on by ignorance-induced guilt).  It seemed a bit of a hard sell and unfortunately my scientifically trained brain always goes into alarm-bell-ringing sceptical mode whenever faced with social science, or even psychology when it starts to wander a little down the self-help route.  However, much of the book hit very close to home.  I'm not sure at what point I drifted from being somewhere in the middle of the introvert-extrovert continuum to being a strong introvert, but that is certainly where I self-identify these days.

It is certainly true that work is an extremely extrovert environment.  My workplace definitely is and I will perhaps never stop receiving feedback that I could "be more rah" (there are future CEO Myers-Brigg ENTJs all around me!), but I have learnt (and am still learning) an awful lot about how I can contribute, be heard and even perhaps lead in such an environment.  I'm also lucky enough that we understand the E/I thing fairly well at work and I don't (no longer) feel guilty about not going to dinner every night with the team!  I actually think that pretty much everybody needs to sometimes just get some "head down time" where we can stop talking and actually think -- the good thing is, I generally do get this, and feel like I can shout to make sure I get it if I don't.

I am less sure about the soundness of the advice in the book to choose work that is more suited to an introverted personality.  (I recognise the value of understanding yourself and your environment, but balk at the idea that you should use a personality test as some sort of predictor of happiness in a career.)  I've tried the research thing, for example, and even as a strong introvert it can be very isolating.  I don't think it is untrue to say that a lot of people do what they do because of the people around them -- introverts included.  Whilst I get a deep sense of happiness and satisfaction whenever I see a rare day stretching ahead of me where I can just get my head down and think and work by myself, if I did that every day I think I would really quite quickly get bored!  But perhaps more importantly and more generically, I think there is some danger in thinking about career through the lens of personality, in that you may rule yourself out of things.  The author in fact gives a great counter example of an incredibly effective introvert salesman.  Now the idea to me of hard selling things to people I don't know is anathema, but clearly there is an introverted way to do it, and if that salesman had followed the advice in the book he would never have figured that out.

Um, I don't really have these anymore!  Very sad.  Earlier in December this year I did have a couple because D was away and I had a couple of weekends to myself, so I plonked myself in a cafe and read a book and had a too-sweet Christmas coffee.  It was really very satisfying indeed and I must promise myself to magically find the time to do it more often.

None recently sighted other than my nephew's guppies, but tomorrow I leave for the Visayas in the Philippines, hurrah hurrah, I can't wait to get under the sea again.  A whale shark would be wonderful, but some fusiliers will do just fine.