Hope you had a great weekend, and that this upcoming Thanksgiving is a restful, memorable, and delicious one!
- I am grateful for a week of wonderful and joy-filled rehearsals, delightful coffee dates, beautiful long walks, and today’s exceptional weather
- I am grateful to be working with a group of people who are SO very kind, generous, creative, supportive of each other, and show up every day ready to play and make magic!
- I am grateful for the sweet card I received from one of the elementary school classes I had the honor of speaking with at The Great American Teach-In. So very kind, and since hand-written things always make my day, their sweet words definitely did:
Today I want to talk about accepting the invitation to the adventure that is our LIFE – so buckle up! (Though I’m going to be using a lot of ship imagery, so maybe just hang on tight : )
If I had to pick a favorite living poet and could choose only one, I would pick Mary Oliver. If you aren’t familiar with her work, I suggest starting with Wild Geese, which I find to be so powerful. I was introduced to her back in college by a teacher I really admired, and whose approach to life was very aspirational to me. I would describe Mary’s writing as both delicate and ferocious, which is a dichotomy I tend to enjoy in most things, where art is concerned.
As I’ve been in rehearsal for Peter and The Starcatcher (a sort of prequel to Peter Pan) – a tale of pirates, mermaids, wild adventures, and what it means to be a hero, I find myself thinking about Mary’s poem, Magellan:
Like Magellan, let us find our islands
To die in, far from home, from anywhere
Familiar. Let us risk the wildest places,
Lest we go down in comfort, and despair.
For years we have labored over common roads,
Dreaming of ships that sail into the night.
Let us be heroes, or, if that’s not in us,
Let us find men to follow, honor-bright.
For what is life but reaching for an answer?
And what is death but a refusal to grow?
Magellan had a dream he had to follow.
The sea was big, his ships were awkward, slow.
And when the fever would not set him free,
To his thin crew, “Sail on, sail on!” he cried.
And so they did, carried the frail dream homeward.
And thus Magellan lives, although he died.
Isn’t that just wonderful?
In Peter and the Starcatcher, I play Molly Aster (the Starcatcher!) – a young girl with an insatiable appetite for adventure, and a firm commitment to doing what is right. I have to say that this has been my favorite role I’ve had the joy of working on in a very long time.
One of the qualities I admire most in Molly is her devotion to her mission. In the play, she has a very particular task to complete – a sacred duty that requires a great deal of risk, heart, and bravery. Even when she can’t see very far ahead of her, she remains true to her quest, even at the expense of her more immediate wishes and desires. She says YES over and over again to her adventure. I think that by nature I’m a bit more hesitant than Molly. I don’t always willingly accept the invitation to dare greatly. But I sure aspire to.
Both working on this role and recently rereading this poem have inspired the following thoughts in me. I feel compelled to share them, for what they might be worth to you:
- It seems to me that to risk failure, to LEAP, to explore the unfamiliar in any area of our life is a victory, all on its own
- The comfortable choice may not always be the most fulfilling
- So many people spend their lives feeling stuck. In a job they hate, a relationship that isn’t healthy, in a pattern of being alone, of existing in a town they long to leave. I think that maybe stuck-ness comes (in part) from a fear of making the wrong choice – of boarding the ship in the first place. The terror of letting go of the familiar and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to be open to change. To being changed. But I’m beginning to think that what we choose matters far less than choosing something, and sailing towards it with all our might
- None of us feels properly equipped for the journey. We all have a trunk full of excuses as to why we aren’t “ready” for something or other. We feel we’re not smart enough, attractive enough, interesting enough, educated enough, funny enough, powerful enough, substantial enough, etc. But we have to work with and celebrate what we do bring to the table, and in time we might realize that we’ve been enough all along
- When we say “yes” to our adventure, we open ourselves up to possibilities that we can’t even begin to imagine yet. When we say “no,” we sit at home and nothing ever changes
- In valuing, honoring, and taking care of our “crew,” we may just discover the very greatest treasure of all
- We become the hero of our journey when we decide we are ready to be
So many people I know and love seem to be in places of serious flux right now. Are you? In between jobs, dealing with a relationship that recently ended, trying to decide where to move/build a life, debating a career change, deciding whether or not to put themselves out there in a particular way…so much uncertainty (which I’m beginning to realize is the only thing in this life we have to be certain of, right? – uncertainty, I mean). I’ve also frequently found myself floating in that kind of place, of “what happens next??” – as I’m sure you have.
But perhaps the answers are much simpler than we think. Perhaps we just need to get quiet with ourselves and ask “What is my mission?” It could be something as simple as “To heal others through art,” or “To empower …..” or “To affect change in the area of…” or anything under the sun. I think that maybe if we keep this mission thumping clearly in our chests, it doesn’t matter so much where we go, only that we do. Only that we hop onto the ship. It doesn’t matter if we blow “off course”. It doesn’t matter if we feel groundless – we were always groundless. But none of the exploring, growing, learning, creating, falling in love, or saving the world can happen if we don’t say yes to the adventure.
So sail on bravely this week, dear friends! May you move forward with courage, fortitude, and the knowledge that you are already, and always were completely ready for the journey : )