If you were to ask what I expected my life to look like ten years ago, it wouldn’t be this. In fact, I doubt anyone really lives knowing exactly how it will look 10, 5 or even 2 years from now. As much as we plan, fret, worry, organize, budget and predict; inevitably life seems to take the cosmic receptacle, turn it upside down and shake until the last little piece of ourselves is exposed.
My dear friend Sam Horak and I often have questions about what we thought we knew when we were younger, and why our paths lead us so similarly to the “starving artist food and beverage slinger” modus operandi. Having met at the restaurant where, until recently, we worked alongside each other; we developed a wonderful friendship based on our creative endeavors and our (often awkward) sense of humour. We’ve laughed until we cried, cried until we laughed and vented until we couldn’t anymore.
Other than this gamut of emotions we tend to get on the topic of life. “What are we doing here?”, “I never imagined I would still be serving”, “Where’s the Exit?” are all of the questions we, and I’m sure many others, ponder over a pint after work. There sometimes comes a certain amount of guilt attached to having been a server for over 10 years and not having “made it” yet. At 32 years old I expected to have a flourishing dance career, teaching dance, choreographing, and most obviously, travelling the world on my art budget. These expectations have served as my proverbial carrot over the last decade and some while I waited on cranky people during dinner service, cranked out dance choreography for nightly classes and wrote exhaustive grants that most often were returned with curt letters of refusal.
If this sounds like a sob story, it is, and this is the way I saw my life until recently when my perspective slowly started to shift. This shift began with a renewed emphasis on experiences rather than expectations. The two mirror each other quite nicely but can have a huge impact on daily life.
Experiences are masters of time. When I revel the moment, time drifts lazily like a winding brook. I speak clearer, listen better and my senses come alive. Expectations, however, tend to tug at me, put me down and are always just out of reach.
When I look at where I am now, life never lived up to my expectations. But, as I look back on the experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to live I’m overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and peace.
I graduated with distinction from Concordia after 4 incredible years of learning and experimenting with movement. I met a friend whom to this day, will call from across the Country just to ask how my day went. I met more friends that have inspired so much love and change in me that I’m now a completely different person than the day I arrived in Montreal.
I danced with an incredibly inspiring group of young women : The Sonia Belazavjech Dance Company. The group was made of endlessly generous people who danced not for their own glory, but as a means by which they could fully and honestly give back to the community. We danced for the 60 million girls foundation, we danced for a Women’s Shelter and we danced for an anti-bullying campaign: L.O.V.E. I had the opportunity to teach a younger generation of dancers with my passion for choreography, and at the same time, learn so much from my students.
When I moved back to Halifax I dearly missed my friends that I’d grown so close with but was able to rebuild a meaningful relationship with my incredible sister. I was able to get to know my adorable niece and nephew. I met my partner whom is so knowledgeable on art we often have spontaneous brainstorming sessions on what my next dance piece will be. I’ve presented over a dozen pieces and met the hard working Nova Scotian dance scene whom welcomed me with their warmth and creative spark. So special to have been a part of a community that is constantly bringing new perspectives to the table and evolving as a result.
From the community I was able to experiment with my own blog which was met with incredible reception. Through the blog I’ve formed partnerships and seen so many dance shows all the while meeting world famous artists kind enough to speak to me about their work.
I worked at the Waterfront Warehouse where over time I was introduced to the virtues of workplace leadership . I’ve laughed with people who have travelled far and wide to tour our little province. I’ve also worked alongside the most amazing co-workers; young people setting up their lives on various tracks to pursue masters degrees, arts careers and astrophysics.
So when Sam and I sit and ponder our lives, we are sure surprised . But I know neither of us would trade the experiences for those wild expectations. Because life isn’t made from end games, “life is what happens while you’re making other plans” -John Lennon
So quit making those plans . Just look around and enjoy the sunshine on your face. Know that any expectations you may have thought you wanted would never live up to the experiences you’ve had.