Hello my friends. It’s, again, been a few days. And this rhythm, perhaps once or twice a week, is likely where I’ll be living for the next few months.
I don’t say that because I think you’re upset about it, I just like to keep folks informed. Because the truth is I’m back in rehearsals, and that changes the tempo, the rhythmic pace, of one’s existence. It gives me such a different perspective on all these things I write about.
It’s a kind of amnesia, getting one’s feet back onto the floor. It’s as if all of the sudden I’m remembering a feeling that I’ve forgotten. There is a kind of: “Oh! This! I remember this. I love this. Why have I been doing anything else but this all this time?!”
This is always how it starts.
All those things we later don’t understand ourselves putting up with. All those indignities that in stark recollection we are surprised at our ability to tolerate. The long hours, the strange spaces, the running from place to place, all of it.
Last night I had people rolling on the ground outside covered in wet and dirty spandex while it rained.
And when it’s good (and right now, it’s very good) it all seems totally worth it.
A new work, for me, is a little like falling in love. And like falling in love, the moment when we surrender to an emotion that has the capacity to make us feel bigger, fuller, than we had been just the moment before, it is easy to allow ourselves to do anything to stay in that place. It is easy for the feeling, which can be so ecstatic and full, to feel like greater compensation than any amount of money ever could.
It is a constant surprise to me that this can continue to stay true even now, ten years into the doing of it.
I was chatting with a friend the other day about this: how the process of making something can feel like someone opens a door and on the other side is something amazing and incredible. And when you have to close it for some length of time it’s hard not to just yell at people who don’t care about the door, hard not spend all your time just waiting to open it again, hard to recapture the image of what’s on the other side.
An artistic love, like any affection, is a process of revealing oneself to an another, an unknown, and finding how you fit into it, into something larger than yourself. It is an amplifying mirror – reflecting one’s image back to themselves in bigger and sometimes stranger ways than we usually see ourselves.
Like love, it causes me to panic, simultaneously scared and excited to meet this new thing I’ve temporarily committed myself to. And the newer that love is, the less known, the more it throws me into paroxysms of emotion. Ups and downs between wanting to commit the rest of my life to this thing and feeling so silly and small and unsuited to this task, waves that come and go over days, hours, sometimes minutes.
I, for one, still struggle to be in it.
Even when I know the agitation, the terror, the butterflies, the inability to sleep as the mind races through images at night, even though I know all these things are part and parcel with the joy, I sometimes don’t know how to just release and let them in. And for me this manifests in extremes of doing and not doing. I spend hours creating detailed, printed, minute by minute plans for the day, which are often tossed aside within the first hour. And then later, exhausted, I sit and stare out windows or listen to the same song over and over again trying to get it to reveal artistic secrets to me.
This cycling between manic outward production and preoccupied inward energy gathering, like love, binds us to the thing we cycle around in a way that, like love, can feel so specific and special that it’s hard to believe that other people can share this passion. It’s sometimes frightening to think that even the others involved might not care for it as deeply as I do. And like love, the feeling can make one feel enmeshed and alone all at the same time.
I have these dreams about rehearsals. Both waking and asleep. Nothing in them is ever sexual or explicit in any literal way. But they feel like romance dreams. And in recalling them, they pull on the same strings deep in the center of my chest. It is a love ache that these thoughts elicit. I think about a rehearsal’s scene or sound like a person’s offhand joke or their dimple. And like a giddy teenager I can replay the moments again and again trying to recapture the rapture they engender.
Let’s call it what it is.
It’s an art-crush, this.
And like a new love, I worry about letting the feeling take over me. I worry talking about it too much. About putting too much faith in its newness. About giving away all of myself to it before I know it will catch me.
But really, there’s nothing to be done but to just be in it.
To try take it in so we do not deny ourselves the pleasure, with an eye or two on the rest of the world so we don’t too totally lose touch with reality.
To endeavor to be honest with our new love, so that we do not lose our sense of selves in an effort to fit inside it, but stay supple enough to let it change and open us in ways we might not have known possible.
To keep our sense of fairness and standard and integrity, so that even if we could give everything of ourselves so thoroughly away, we don’t, because later, when our love tempers and perhaps even fades, we’ll need it.