Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Hello Friends,

I don't know even know where to begin!... We're just coming out of a deep freeze here in Winnipeg and the sudden thawing seems to bring an energy of its own. Alone with my thoughts to keep me company, I'm finding that images keep popping up, teasing my imagination. Some are spurring creative outputs (lots of sketching) while others have me longing for a polar vortex to numb me again.



A few people have shared their disarray with me. On one hand, there's news of re-openings and the prospect of live shows ahead. On the other hand, headlines are screaming about covid variants and an impending economic collapse. It's hard to know what to think or what to do. And the lack of certainty makes it hard to get going. But now we have the fear that if we don't restart the engines, we might miss the race... Argh!

And then there are those of us (and I include myself in this well-populated group) who are thinking "What, this pandemic is ending? Already? But I haven't written that novel yet! Haven't finished my taxes! Haven't decluttered the house! etc." I haven't even baked bread! So, yes, it's very easy to feel defeated, embarrassed or even shamed!

And then, on a deeper level, I've realized through my conversations with artists that many of us are struggling with mental health. Perhaps this extended period of quiet has allowed some of the voices in the past to speak up.

(For me, they manifest as flashbacks, fragmented images tied to emotions I can't quite process. For example, this image keeps popping up: four bowls of chicken soup lined up at the window... I can hear myself whining that the soup's too hot which explains that the soup is now on the window sill with an ice cube floating in it. And then I hear myself whine that it's too cold now. And then, nothing. Blackness. Except that I want to sob the way a 6 year old does. And whenever I just relax, I see soup, and other bits and pieces that make no sense to me and yet distract me... bizarre!)

The present tense seems to join the past and future in a swirling dance that feels it could knock me off my feet. I'm still standing. And knowing that I'm not alone in feeling this way has made me want to explore ways we can stand, and take a few steps forward, with lightness in our hearts.

I've found some comfort in the quotes below, especially this one from one of my favourite authors, Paolo Coelho:



Should I stay or should I go? Here or there? Now or later? So many questions....
I've dug into my business toolbox for a way to some answers...

There's an expression in business called "Opportunity Cost". It basically refers to the cost of what you miss out on when you make a choice to do something else. For example, taking a year off to study (opportunity) means that you lose a year of wages (cost) so that the true cost of university is not the $5000 fee, but much higher if you factor in an annual salary.

I often factor in the opportunity costs when I make a decision - for me, it's a way of gauging my motivation or the value of a project. And I use it when I'm working with an artist to build a strategy - especially when I'm negotiating with partners. For example, it's easy to say that an artist should hop on a promo tour or fly out to meet media or take part in a showcase. But we have to weigh not only the tangible costs (flights, hotels, musician fees, etc.) but also weigh in the opportunity costs (not playing paid gigs during that time). When those costs are high, we can question the opportunities.

Another example is being asked to donate time to do a charity show. If that show is a Saturday in early December when you usually could be playing a well-paid corporate event gig, you might want to suggest a Tuesday night in January when you're more likely free anyway.

These are just examples of putting value what you're getting, but also on what you're missing out on so that you have a full picture of what a choice entails.


Well, the opposite of Opportunity is Misfortune and the opposite of Cost is Gain or Benefit or Blessing.

So, what if we looked at this misfortune of world pandemic restrictions and instead of looking at the losses we've suffered (missed touring revenue, delayed releases, not to mention skipped birthdays, missed hugs, etc.) and started listing the gains, benefits & blessings??

This exercise invites perspective and a sense of balance. It switches on the rational "thinking" brain while calming the "emotional" brain.


Taking a break from the "whirl" and anchoring the present moment

If your mind is racing, it can be useful to grab a pen and release your thoughts to paper. Very often, clarity comes from letting the words flow.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • How do I feel?
  • What are the external things that are making me feel hesitant or stirring fear?
  • Can I flip those thoughts? Where are the opportunities? What could be exciting?
  • What are the things I'm embarrassed about? Do they really matter? Can I flip them?
  • What have I learned about myself in this past year? About others?
  • Who has been there for me? Who do I see differently now?
  • What have I learned to do?
  • What am I not going back to? What am I grateful for leaving behind?
  • What will I keep from this year as I venture into the post-pandemic phase?

Write or draw the answers to any or all of these questions in any way that feels natural. You might end up with a few sheets of paper or maybe a few random words sketched out. In a sense, this can serve as a time capsule. And once you've had time to pull from it what you need, why not take the exercise and stash it an envelope to read in a year or two?

You'll be proud of yourself when you look back at this time... and probably pretty impressed with how strong you've been... after all, these "unprecedented times" have been going on for months!


xo Nat

Nathalie Kleinschmit

Article by Nathalie Kleinschmit

Published 16 Feb 2021