Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring? Really...Soon? Looking back before looking forward.

Somehow another month has gone by and throughout that time I really haven't seen fit to get agitated enough about anything to take the time to write.  Not that I haven't been agitated...but, really, things are generally good...so why worry?

On the other hand, there is this commitment I made to myself to get some of this stuff written down, so I guess this is a bit of a March update...random thoughts...events...happenings...muddled and confused as they may be.

As people hear what I am doing and that I have secured the MFA Directing spot at Mankato, almost everyone offers some variation on this sentiment:

Aren't you excited?

And how do you explain that, no, I'm not really excited right now.  Right now what I'm doing is going through the grief process that is inherent in completely letting go of a life that I have built up through an extraordinary effort over a really long time.  A decade, if you just focus on the way I have defined myself through theater at Roseville and Eat Street Players and through work in public education, another decade if you include the role of parent that is shifting inexorably, and even just looking at the five years since I became single again there is a tremendous investment in creating a life and a space in which to be defined.

And I am not saying that I am having second thoughts, because I am absolutely and completely certain that the change that is on the horizon is the change I want and need.  And I am excited about the future.  Really excited.  And all the stuff that I learned along the way is coming with me.

But grief is an essential piece of the process of change, and one ignores it at one's own peril. 

So I am doing some work on letting go and examining the things that are being left behind.  Part of that is doing a bit of an inventory of the lessons learned.  Which inevitably leads to regret.  You can't really learn unless you fail, and in failure lies regrets.

Regret is an interesting place to be...I imagine we all have lots of them; things we wouda, shouda, couda done differently.  Choices that could have been made or effort that could have been expended...not to mention the stupid shit that you just hope no one ever finds out about.  Theoretically we get to start over every morning when we wake up, but the reality is so much harder than that.  The entanglements that we create and the commitments that we enter into define their own highly bound yellow brick road and rarely is Oz on the other end of the road.  To really bundle up a period of learning and carry it forward into something genuinely new seems daunting.

I am about ten days away from opening what will likely be the last show I direct in Minneapolis for a while.  Shameless plug here...come see Into the Woods at Eat Street Players.  Although it could certainly have had more rehearsal time, what we have had has been fabulous...for me anyway.  A fair amount of table work and character chatting and such...brisk blocking and lots of good music work...fun.  A feisty and talented cast has made the process really engaging and I usually walk away from rehearsals feeling a deep sense of satisfaction...and look forward to the opening.

At the same time I have been trying to stage How To Succeed at RAHS; which has been a struggle as the show has had to compete with Spring Break and a host of music tours for the attention and time of its cast.  The show will be fun and the kids are great; but the contrast is striking.  It's one of the challenges of working in a high school where there are so many great opportunities for kids...your activity is a piece of a complex and challenging puzzle.  And I can't honestly say that things there have gone they way I had envisioned.

I saw Tommy at Southwest last Saturday and it provided a bit of a contrast that was humbling.  So much I could have done better to grow the program at RAHS...things to do differently next time, I guess.  Part of the challenge of pulling lessons from experience is parsing out that which you could have changed and that which was outside of your control.  Just because something isn't what you would like it to be doesn't mean that didn't do as you should have done. 

"When going to hide, know how to get there.  And how to get back.  And eat first."

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance

We don't really think about grieving a loss when the loss is something chosen in a process of starting an exciting new adventure.  We assume that we will just look forward and everything behind will take care of itself.  But I don't think it works that way.

Hmmmm....more later on all of this.  I'm going to go hide in a cave now.

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