About a year ago I quit theater. That sounds very strange, to phrase it like that. But it was nearly a year ago I dropped all my connections with it and decided to delve further into my "day job". It was a combination of being burnt out, frustration with the system, and a way of dealing with specific life situations that were outside of my hands.
Specifically, when my dad was diagnosed with alzheimer’s, a huge change swept over my family. We suddenly started looking at things in a whole new way. We began re-evaluating our priorities. I distanced myself from people and projects, which looking back now, might have been the most helpful outlet for me at the time. But I was stuck in this horrible pit of despair. I saw the reality that my dad will never get better. He won’t kick alzheimer’s in the ass, like he did with cancer only a few years before. He will have to live with this, and its progression for the rest of his life (and so will my mom and I). We’re very open about it. My dad will talk about it with his friends, and even with strangers. When he was first diagnosed, I was telling people I haven’t spoken to in years about it (but that was more due to a need to reach out and gain some life perspective). My dad is all about helping others and connecting to them on a positive level. Seriously, he is the most optimistic person I know. It’s a little nuts sometimes. But with alzheimer’s, we all eventually realized there’s no point in hiding it. This big portion of our lives is just out there for people; whether they want to question it, take it all in, or offer assistance when needed.
I can’t speak for my parents regarding some of this. They are going through their own way of dealing with things, and I am sharing my way with you. But I must say that I am very impressed and proud of them. They are by far the best people I know, and stronger than any two people combined. But, it’s been a challenge for all of us, having me on the other side of the country, and them on the other. (For those that don’t know, I’m an only child, so this makes it rather difficult for us all.) There are times I’ve felt incredibly selfish, pursuing a dream I had in my mind from years ago. But they continue to support and encourage me in any direction I want to go. There are no words to express my thanks to them for everything they’ve done for me.
They even put up with me over this past year when I was really losing my shit over everything going on around me. It’s pretty clear to say that I’ve struggled a great deal with these changes. I definitely had a moment when I was looking at life with a hopeless perspective. My thought was: if my dad will never get fully better, then life won’t get better, and we’re all stuck in this mundane cycle, with no point and no sense of happiness. Now that sounds really fucking depressing, doesn’t it?! It was quite depressing. I even went to a psychiatrist at one point, who told me to see a therapist. Eventually I saw a therapist, and stopped going to her because (crazy enough!) I found writing, running, and yoga to be more conducive for my way of life. (I’m not knocking therapy. It can be great for some people. Just find what works for you in the best way possible.)
But it has been nearly a year since I have been involved in a theatrical project, and it really pains me to realize that. Theater has been in my life for as long as I can remember. Since I was cast as Baby Bear in Goldilocks in pre-school, to Snow White in junior high, and Gertrude in high school. All the while I was writing plays and stories, performing for my family and friends (which I discussed in a previous blog). It’s a huge part of who I am as a person, and it’s also a passion that led me to the city I’m in today.
I still attend shows, and continue to support my friends with their endeavors (which gives me great joy). I love helping other people and seeing the amazing work they produce themselves. There are times I cry with happiness over these moments (more often than not) and it’s crazy that it matters so much to me, yet I continue to avoid it myself. The most I’ve done is attend a retreat in Connecticut last month, where I wrote and performed some terrific work we created as a group. I miss that. I miss working with people on that level. I miss Shakespeare and Ruhl and Albee. I miss those friends I would turn to when I felt lost in my own work. I miss working on new plays with people and hearing what they have to say.
Somewhere over this past year, my style of writing switched over from writing plays to writing essays such as this. I’m not to argue; whatever format comes out of my fingertips is what it shall be. It is a little strange though, and I hope I go back to playwriting soon. I hope I get back into the theater, or even the arts, as soon as possible. It is getting to be more challenging to see people I know involved with it (which might be a good thing; just the push I need). But the longer I stay away, the harder it is to feel confident in myself in returning to it. That assurance I used to have disappeared somewhere along the way, and now I find myself hiding behind my laptop and the internet. It’s one way to communicate my thoughts though. It’s one way to connect to others, and hopefully spread some light and love their way (not sure if I did that with this blog entry!)
I do wish I had more answers or an easy fix to some of life's problems. I wish I could fix a lot of life's problems! But as we all must do, I will push forward. I will continue doing my yoga, running, and writing my way through this craziness we call life.
Just as I was finishing typing this, I received an email and call from my friend inviting me to work on a project with her. Seems too serendipitous to pass up, so here we go!