Hawke's Bay Arts Festival / 19 October 2019 / By Lief Rock
The Busy Brains, Calm Lives talk was very interesting, from my point of view being a teen of fifteen, as it talked about things that had to do with my generation (climate change and the climate strikes, youth suicide and social anxiety and the problems with Instagram). The crowd was made up of middle-aged women and a sprinkling of men but hardly anyone else my age.
It was held on an afternoon in the Victoria Spiegeltent, using only part of it to make it cosier and less vast so it was easier to hear. I had been to the first evening of Limbo, which was such a spectacular show, so this was quite a different experience of the surroundings. This Readers & Writers event was less of a show, obviously, but the audience were attentive, leaning out of their seats for a better look.
The writers captivated the audience with their funny easy-going manner, interesting stories and opinions, and different, equally strong personalities, as well as their “golden nuggets of wisdom” on how to cope with stress and the mentalness of modern life and being a mum.
It was good to see how the different generations in the group of writers had completely different views on the same topic as well as much in agreement. I think they really challenged people and their ways of thinking but also resonated well with them. Bringing up important topics that were relevant to our time and age, things that are not usually talked about much in New Zealand (suicide, not coping, fear of being judged), giving their books meaning on a bigger scale. I especially liked that they talked about how it’s good to be crazy and on a spectrum and how people are too busy trying to be normal and should just chill out more and not worry what others think.
Two of the speakers, Gwendoline Smith aka Doctor Know (The Book of Knowing) and Karen Nimmo (Busy as F*ck), who are therapists, talked about their books being a form of therapy that is cheaper and more accessible for those who can’t afford to see a therapist or are living rurally, and that therapy isn’t just about the talking. It’s about rewiring your brain pathways and that it’s easy enough to do it by yourself with practice, maybe with a little bit of nudging in the right direction. Emily Writes (Rants in the Dark) talked about her writing being a service to the country. All their books are like toolkits for how to know yourself better and for tackling things like anxiety and feeling less alone.
While some of it flew over my head, what I’m going to take away from it all is that actually I’m doing ok because I’m happy with life and positive, and not too self-conscious (but I do get fomo!). It was a good refresh that I needed and I hope to read some of their books – Karen Nimmo’s for her book title and Doctor Know’s because she was funny and direct.
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