Ask Sam: Those Creative Types

Award shows like the Tony Awards celebrate the stars of our beloved Broadway.  These people managed against all odds to act, dance and sing their way to the top, often while barely making a living. (All the big money seems to be reserved for the Hollywood stars that are cast for box office draw because tickets to see theatre have become outrageous, verging on elitist.)

Those creative types – we all know at least one – whether they’re a dancer, choreographer, director, composer, singer, set designer, costume designer, writer, makeup artist, hair stylist, painter, etc., they all have something in common, a need to create, to perform for an audience and a desperate longing to be appreciated for their talents.  For them, it’s not just a “gig” it is an intrinsic part of who they are.

When your accountant goes home after a long day of crunching numbers, they leave their desk and return to the rest of their life, but for creatives there in no release.  They do what they do because that is who they are.  Their need to create and perform is intrinsic to their personality; it’s their identity.  When they are not in the act of doing it they are thinking about it.  Some have managed to thrive at their chosen profession.  A blessing.  For the rest, they are forever unfulfilled.  An all-consuming yearning stays in their blood like an addict.  When they are lucky, there is work, or hope of work that fills them with a fleeting high.  When not in the process of doing what they were put on this earth to do, there is only despair, an emptiness accompanied by symptoms of withdrawal that eats away at their very soul.  A demoralizing, slow and painful decline.

Often, when people speak of support for the arts, it’s in terms of education in the arts or obscure grants that few artists ever manage to gain access to.  We need to embrace the creative disciplines as part of our culture.  Without, color and music, performances that provoke us to think, laugh or cry, and visually stunning endeavors that move us, we would be in a totally bleak, uncivilized world, void of all the best parts of life.  We need to value the arts and the creative forces who pursue them.

More outlets for our friends who need to make things beautiful, would mean a world filled with more vibrancy and happiness and less misery from your waitress, bartender or sales person because instead of dreaming of a chance to be doing something else, they would be doing it.  In fact, that goes for all of us.  We are all meant to do something in this life.  The lucky ones find their path, it welcomes them, and they are the most fulfilled, happiest people you know.  It is when we have a passion for doing things and our lives don’t contain any of what fulfills us that leads to antidepressants.  We all need to find and chase our calling in life; we are as a whole much richer, more peaceful and happier that way.  If we can say “yes” more often, instead of “no” and help each other pursue our dreams we would live in this very positive technicolor environment filled with taste, music and motion and words that have meaning.  If the theory behind “Six Degrees of Separation” is true, than we should all be able to have the life we want while helping others to do the same.

Ask Sam: Your Kids Are Not That Cute

Screaming-Children-Sign1I recently attended a dinner that I had really been looking forward to. Lately my schedule has been all work and no play. An evening of relaxed, adult conversation was a long awaited event. Unfortunately, after one hour, I could not wait for the evening to be over. Three hours of relentless screaming and a splitting headache later, I was silently begging for mercy, trying to drown out the decibels with wine. At one point, during the first hour of dinner, after trying to make out what the woman sitting diagonally across from me was saying, I had to apologize to her and explain that I had not been able to hear the last fifteen seconds of what she had said. To my amazement, the parents of the screaming children did and said nothing. At one point during dinner, a rug rat from under the table attacked my leg and screamed, “A bug!” Pounding a plastic pest against my leg he yelled at me again. I looked down in his direction and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t respond to yelling.” Again, no response from a parent or any of the adults related to the trouble maker. An hour later, I ran into the little gang’s ringleader in a hallway. I asked her if she would please do me a favor and kindly use her indoor voice. I was disregarded and ignored. The pandemonium continued.

A week before, I was applying some make-up to one of my clients. Her daughter, about seven, who was with her, pushed into my legs with both hands while making a grunting noise then whined, “Me too!” Her mother kind of smiled at her and half-heartedly said, “Don’t be rude.” I was stunned, I never would have dared to push anyone, (with the occasional exception of my little brother) certainly not an adult.

Divorce, media, households in which parents work full time with no one qualified to watch them at home have changed the environment in which children are governed. Parents want to be their child’s friend instead of their parents. Civility is rarely taught or enforced in school. So we are raising the next generation to be rude, antisocial, self- centered and selfish with delusional perceptions of entitlement. It seems to me that no- one says “No” anymore, leaving us to be lorded over by little tyrants. When children are rude, look at the parents and there you will find the root of the problem.

I frequently give etiquette classes to children, hired by parents who wish to outsource this kind of training. Thinking that one hour’s worth of dining etiquette is going to turn the little heathen into an angel is not going to work if the parent does not continue the training at home, every day.

So I’m wondering what this means for society. What kind of world will be wrought by the next generation? I am afraid. All rules of etiquette, protocol and diplomacy stem from a common denominator – respect for others. I cringe at the thought of what the implications are for humanity from this pandemic. The problem is global. A world devoid of civility is going to be far more unpleasant and scarier than it already is.

Please, consider “Please”, “Thank you,” chewing with your mouth closed and giving up your seat on the train to someone who needs it more than you and other basic good manners. The future of our society depends on it.