I just finished running sprints in 中正紀念堂 or Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall here in Taipei. How does one run sprints there? Easy. All you need to run a sprint is 50+ meters of space in front of you and an imagination telling you there’s a lion chasing you on the African Savannah.
It’s the second sunny day in a row. My body is glistening with sweat while I catch my breath. During my rest in between sprints I look around me. There were a few guys shadowboxing and dancing on their toes. Other than us, almost everyone else in 自由廣場, Freedom Square, had a nifty camera around their neck or smartphone/selfie stick in hand.
Yesterday, I was doing pull-ups next to 中正紀念堂 and there were a ton of people (tourists?) taking pictures of birds, squirrels and the cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms are beautiful but they’re nothing mind blowing in my book. I asked a friend why she thought they were such a sight. Her hypothesis is that their scarcity makes them a popular attraction.
Moral: make yourself scarce to become more popular. If you’ve read Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power you might know what I’m talking about. Remember the story of the white crane?
Last Thursday I was doing pull-ups in the same location and two Korean guys approached me asking if they could have a picture taken with me. I’m pretty fit with a muscular build but I have this build because I’ve spent time building it. This was the first time I was approached for a picture while I was working out. One of the guys was rather slim while his friend, the photographer, was a bit of a pudge.
When people look at me while I workout, I feel like I’m an animal in the zoo, like the gorilla from Ishmael. I get these longer-than-usual stares from people as they walk by me. Is it because I have visible muscle tone? My shirt is off because a) it saves on laundry and b) I needed some vitamin D.
It is only showing off if you watch. Don’t watch?
Yes, 中正紀念堂 is a tourist attraction and the proportion of actors – people doing things – to observers – camera people – may be a bit skewed. But nonetheless, it brings up an interesting observation.
Think of the millions of people that go to the movie theaters. The next time you’re on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, observe the ratio of observers to street performers. Think of all the concerts you’ve been to; the plays on Broadway. Think of all the photos you have in your smartphone or on the memory stick of your Nikon DSLR.
The actor/doer is in demand today because of their scarcity. And as technology improves and lures more people into buying a smartphone or watching TV, the performer will become more scarce. There’s a huge supply of observers/watchers and as society insulates people from risk and threat, more and more people will become observers.
There’s a whole slough of emotions you get from being an actor that you just don’t get from being an observer. How can we live a full life if we just watch from behind our screens?
Are you watching life go by? Taking pictures of squirrels and birds rather than feeding or chasing them for your next meal? Plant a cherry tree instead of take a picture of cherry blossoms. Skydive instead of watch people skydive. Go to an open mic and sing instead of watching your favorite youtube star.
Stars are born because they do after they watch. Have your idols then be them.
A few weeks ago I went to Red Room with two friends. I was the first to perform for the night. I sang John Legend’s All of Me – a song I’ve sung maybe a hundred times. I was sick at the time and it was not my greatest performance. I fumbled with the mic in the middle of the performance, repeated/forgot some lyrics, even put my hands in my pockets. At the end, I received a loud applause and even some hoots and hollers. They were probably praising the courage more so than the quality of singing, but it was a great experience because now I can go back there and perform without any kind of nerves. It won’t be hard to top my last performance there.
No sweat. Feel bad about yourself for a few minutes then move on.
Imagine if there was a performance that was lost to its moment of time. Think YouAct: this view(performance) had 1,056,019 actors. … Never to be seen again… :O
It’s one thing to capture a moment with a lens. It’s another to capture an experience with your soul.
Sorry, no pictures for this post (intentional).