#1 Prompt: Passion: What did you become/continue to be sincerely passionate about in 2011? When you are in the moment doing something you love what does look + feel like?
#2 Prompt: Teaching Moment - Sometimes we find teachers in the most unexpected places. Who surprised you as a teacher this year, and what did you learn?
#1 -- There was not much passion in much of anything that I did in 2011 -- this last year has been one more of just getting through it. I don't like feeling so uncreative and stagnant, so am planning to rev that up in 2012.
I was able to get onstage a couple of times, though -- two Vagina Monologues performances ("The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy" -- I adore doing that one with all the fun moans and the fabulous audience response) and two Red Bluff mystery dinner theater productions of "What You Seize is What You Get." And one read-through of "Night, Mother," a dark play about suicide that I'd hoped to do with a wonderful Redding actress and friend, but the producer decided it was too much of a downer. Our read-through had everyone in tears, however, and I think we would have rocked it. Ah, well.
When I'm onstage, however, everything else disappears and I'm just THERE, right THERE, and totally focused on what is. The words and actions and character just flow through me (assuming adequate preparation and rehearsal, that is) and out into the audience. I love, LOVE, that feeling, and when the audience responds, it is an enormous rush of joy and power. I've been told by others that I bring an energy to the stage that boosts not only my performance, but that of the whole production, and if that's true, it makes my heart glad. A live performance is thrilling (and scary too) because you get THAT ONE shot at it for that particular audience. Every show is different.
I love writing when I'm in the zone and all I'm thinking of is words on screen, but that is never, ever a one-shot best performance deal. It's totally different energy.
#2 -- I've believed for years in the Buddhist proverb: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Understanding who the teacher is isn't always quite so simple, however, which makes me think of a quote from Robert Hunter's lyrics "Scarlet Begonias: "Once in a while/you get shown the light/in the strangest of places/if you look at it right."
One of my teachers this year was very evident: my yoga instructor, who is also a wonderful, very intuitive massage therapist, and an energetic, insightful, spiritual friend to boot. I learn from her with nearly every class, but also have enjoyed her company in other venues this year. She is straightforward, kind, open, and I so appreciate her presence in my life and the things I continue to learn from her.
Another teacher -- categorized perhaps 'in the strangest of places' -- was an actor in the murder mystery production who showed me why I was where I needed to be this year and what really matters about it. I admit that sometimes my attitude in rehearsal was way less than positive, and the role was not particularly challenging, the play was -- well, let's say it was, um, not meaty, and the director likes to direct on the fly, changing things right up to the dress rehearsal -- and beyond --.
We talked at some length over several weeks, and I finally understood that the important part was the relationships with the cast members (even though it was a fund-raiser, and a very successful one at that): meeting and working with people of all ages and stages, and nurturing friendships, not the play itself, really. Most of the actors have done little, if any, theater in the past and aren't likely to do much more than another mystery dinner, but they are enthusiastic and talented and committed, with schedules that are far busier than my own. He definitely showed me the light, and I value his friendship and perspective.
Another 'teacher' this year was the April issue of O Magazine that featured poetry by Mary Oliver. That dark and stormy night when I read her poem "The Journey" was a life-changing moment for me, and I've been able to see more clearly what I must do ever since. I wrote about that 'aha' moment.
I am grateful for such teachers and I hope that I have the clarity of thought to recognize them when they are there for me.