the give not the get

Before I dive into my post and the point/relevance of my title, here’s the update on how the pending audition from last week’s post went down…

I did stick to my instincts and only auditioned for the role that resonated with me. I only wrote the one role on my info sheet and I had told the Producer about my decision so I was hoping it was a done deal but right before the session was over, the Director, Playwright and Artistic Director asked me to read for the other role. So I had to stand there, say no again and try to give a small bit of explanation. It was a tough thing to do but I followed my instincts. And I loved playing the other role for a few minutes, for a brief stretch of time I was this character. I brought my heart and soul in the door with me and I laughed and cried and turned that mother out. And OF COURSE I did not get cast in that role, I was never going to get cast. I knew that. But it was quite a ride and I felt very good about my work so I don’t regret my decision. Anything else would have been a disservice to all involved.

Oh, I also wanted to share that I saw the same panhandler on the subway this week. He had a Con Ed bill with his this time (as proof?!) and actually looked even more physically weakened by the stroke he mentioned before. I gave him a dollar. Again. I probably did it more for me than for him because I want to believe him. I want to believe in him.

Okay on to today’s topic or title.

I am definitely returning to an incubating phase. A time of creative growing pains that make me feel all antsy. I’ve actually had to get up and hop around a few times this week (much to the shock and amusement of those around me at the day job). I’m just busting. I could say it’s because the creative work I’m doing/hope to be doing is jumping and jiving or because I’m all excited about Spring or because I am doing this amazing Mastermind type program but I’m honestly not sure. It feels all kinds of weird. I’m in flux and my newly decided course of action is to switch to an OUTWARD FOCUS whenever I start to get all self-absorbed. Rather than dwell and stew (and other funny verb choices) I am going to shift focus to someone or something else. I’m going to pay attention to what I can give rather than what I may get. Seems counterintuitive but I sense that in the end it will actually produce results (and bring some comfort in the meantime).

I think it might be another version of “writing in the shower” (wait that sounds weird, did I mention this before?). Quickly- I always seem to come up with story ideas and dialogue and solve any literary problems when I am in the shower. It’s the most seemingly ridiculous place to find writing inspiration but damn if it doesn’t work every time. So… this is my way of branching out on the same theme.

My mind, in its overactive but fragmented state, randomly settled on Nyasha. Who’s that you may ask? Well she is the child I sponsor in Zimbabwe. And I’m not writing about this so that people think “Louise is so philanthropic!” (I hesitated mentioning it at for this very reason) but I see the difference it’s made in my sense of the world. I first talked about her here. And it’s something that I need to remember right now. So maybe instead of swimming around in my malaise or bemoaning my twitchy-ness, I can write her an email. I started sponsoring her a few years ago when I first recovered from being rather sick. I felt lucky and I wanted to do something for someone else. I like the organization I go through because they are about community building and not religious indoctrination. They are also super interested in keeping young girls in school- which I fiercely support. Nyasha just had a birthday and I try to send her something off the approved sponsor gift list (for a bit we couldn’t even mail letters because the political unrest meant no deliveries as any messengers were usually killed for their goods). I am a fan of the coloring sets or art kits or anything crafty. The money I give helps the entire community so we try to send her fun gifts individually. And she tends to draw me pictures so I try to feed that passion.

She wants to be a nurse and she wants to go to college. I want to believe that she can do anything and be anything but I know that she lives in a part of the world where… well… I cannot even pretend to understand… so I often find myself at a loss in our correspondence. One of the first letters I received from her had a simple drawing of her life. There was a rough sketch of a house and a few people (why is it that every kid draws the human figure in nearly the same exact way?) but what stopped me in my tracks was the soldier thrown into the mix. Yes, next to a flower and a bird of some sort there was the unmistakable image of a soldier… with a machine gun. The thing is I don’t think this was included to shock or to send some kind of message. This is simply her world, what she sees every day. And my monthly charitable contribution cannot take that away. It cannot remove the violence from her world or make sure she gets home safe from school. All I can do it keep writing her about snow, big buildings and my hilarious kitty (things she loves to hear about).

So maybe I need to calm down a bit. It’s okay to be questioning. It’s a flipping luxury to be questioning, to be anxiously searching for the next thing. It’s a gift to be in angst. To wax poetic about artistic choices and personal revelations. Now it will also do me no good to feel guilty for my fortune or embarrassed by my potentially fluffy issues. This is my life and the best I can do is embrace my choice to be a storyteller. Well, I can also follow my heart- give a dollar on the subway and send some crayons to Africa. It might do some good and get me out of my funk…. actually I’ll take the doing good part and the rest is a work in progress.

Just trying to get through April Fool’s Day without too much prank-damage (not a fan of the prank!),

Louise

THINGS I’M DIGGING THIS WEEK: Visit a Village and Share our Strength

AN ARTISTIC INSPIRATION: While this might be perceived as a thematic non sequitur it has been a revisited source of inspiration this week so I feel the desire to share it. It’s a TED talk from Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s been floating around since February 2009 and you’ve probably seen it before. During this talk she musings on the question: “How do I do this work I love?” I think she is very honest and very brave. She definitely finds a way to swim around in her fear or insecurity or doubt with grace and eloquence. Enjoy.

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