I attended an event recently in Peterborough, on a downtown street. A feeling I had during this performance has stuck with me. The crowd that had gathered to watch was encouraged by the performers to be with what was happening in front of them as they spread out into the crowd. I realised that this encouragement applied to so much more than what was taking place in that moment and had the wonderful sensation of connection from this beautiful work of art enfolding before me to the rest of my life. I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.
I am consistently trying to pack in as much as I can possibly do by ‘multitasking’ to the point of exhaustion and judging myself for resting. I am a fourth-year student in Cultural Studies at Trent and if I were to try to be the student I’d like to be, I could be nothing else. It is physically impossible for me to read everything I am assigned, to give every paper the care and attention I’d like to. This has resulted in an awareness that by doing what I am doing I am not doing twelve other things. I am absolutely sure I am not alone. This is my second undertaking at university and, this time around, I feel much more equipped to cope with these feelings of inadequacy. What I am working on now is dispelling them all together by focusing on what I can do, what I am doing any moment.
The effect of an overwhelming number of things to do is familiar among members of the arts community in Peterborough. I can’t count the number of times I have heard the comment: “There’s so much going on, its not deciding what too do, its deciding what not too do.” I feel very lucky to live in this town and to lead the life I do; in both, there are so many wonderful things happening all of the time. However, trying to do everything, leads to doing nothing. I am sure you have tried to have a conversation with someone while they were distracted by something. I have, and I have also certainly been that distracted person, not taking anything in, not connecting with the person in front of me. I don’t want to be that person. Especially with so many wonderful opportunities before me for first hand experiential learning, through the Cultural Studies program and in Peterborough generally, I feel like it is essential to be present, to heed the advice of those performers, to find connection.
During that performance, once I stopped thinking about what I felt I had to accomplish that day, stopped allowing myself to be distracted by judgement of the bustling surrounding the performers, I was able to experience the power of the performance and what I brought to that experience through my attention, the space created between the audience and the work. That is what I am trying to cultivate for myself. My name is Eryn Lidster and for the next few months, I am very excited to be present as an intern among the administrative team at Artspace. I very much look forward to meeting you there.