Friday, June 25, 2010

Anchors Away!

Away, Away, Anchors a-Weigh!

Authenticity breathes. It enlivens my every struggle. To be true to the self, for me, is to be in a continual sea of the state of a conscious awareness. Still, was it not for the anchors of others, where might not my own ship sail?

One is born free; yet not so. Immediately a host of attendant others pluck and pull and direct and promote and influence. One becomes a race, a culture, an accent, an ideology, a persuasion, an education, a label. Layer by layer, one adapts to the exigencies of time, circumstance, family, community, country, world. And in the universe of alternatives, and in the potential for variances, one is eventually isolated and named and given value by others according to the relatively minute passage of history that becomes the voyage of any given soul, or not. He was a Colonel in the Chinese army. She came west with the Jewish Diaspora. He fought as a subaltern in the Boer war. She grinds corn in Oaxaca. He stood guard at Hadrian’s Wall. She was Queen. So it is for all souls, or not. For not all souls are left with a historical identity, as given by others. Runhard Spearthrow, for instance, who lost his life at the time of the Mammoth kill, was just another hunter. In fact, he was an only child, and since he had no wife, and since his parents were both dead too, there is no one even to record or to make mention of him anymore. Ah well. He sure threw that spear hard! Remember the time that he…, no, I’m thinking of someone else.

Authenticity struggles. Who am I? Really? When that bit of energy that is undeniably me found its body and then became an ego that necessarily asserted itself as an ‘I’ (even as a bird-house chickadee-chick squeals at the outside hole of light that feeds its existence), what chance does one have to be anything other than the set of circumstances into which one is delivered and is nurtured by the incidents of geography and enculturation? Is it in the states of enlightenment in which one finds one’s consciousness awake? In our modern world a baby is now easily born geographically ‘out of place’ and the affected offspring is spirited by another race and grows up perhaps in an altogether untraditional, unconventional, untoward, perhaps unresolved and even unexpected surroundings. That might have been my lot when the small plane carrying me in the basket coughed alarmingly, thrice, as we passed over a deserted island. Did Tarzan not struggle with his authenticity too? Who am I (?) seems so selfish a question: am I not the product of all that courses through me? Communist, Buddhist, Christian, Jew. Such labels!

Authenticity is iconoclastic. I’d like not to do this, or to have to do that, or to go there, or to have to pretend to this, or to worry about that, or to have to remember that occasion, or to fess up to that past, or even to contemplate this future. I just want to be. And in the ‘now’ of my being I’d like to feel complete, like the completeness of ‘the now’ in the moment of plucking up the preferred pebble that appears the right one for the intricacies of my pebble-picture. Yet should the moment be knocked aside, or the picture trampled, then I simply engage in another, or walk altogether away from my intention. Engagement in some other ‘now’ can be complete, content; I am aware that my preference itself is not the answer to my authenticity; simply being is. So may I become known not as the spear-thrower, but perhaps as the pebble-placer, ha! So be it. A life birthed, lived, and left, for any one of us is full of moment by moment. Now is the moment. Anchors away, indeed!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Final Curtain (June 19th, 2010)

It is dead. All that effort. All that energy. Dead. The little chickadee fledgling lies in a heap of flustered feathers and frozen claws, and as I bend down to it, ants pluck at its eyes. So soon?

A few hours ago, before I left the window for my meeting, I’d watched a parent coddle the chick from branch to branch, find foodstuff after foodstuff to lure the little shivering thing along. And not ten inches from me, on the other side of my living room window, the other blue-grey parent with its black cap leaned from its perch into the dark hole of the bird-house and fed some other unseen chick or two. But my own appointment called.

At The Morpheus Theatre Board meeting I wait. Thousands of hours’ worth of effort has gone into the company’s fruition. It too was a fledgling, begun in 1994 by a student of mine, Sean Anderson, when from his height up a ladder while adjusting a Fresnel in the Bowness Theatre he, deus ex machina like, acceded to become the comptroller of what two other graduating students, Justin and Patti were proposing to initiate. But the three of them eventually parted, and Sean continued to steer the company through season after season, garnering awards for Morpheus shows, and prestige for its name. I joined them ten years later, as its resident director. In the meantime I’d served as artistic director for the Liffey Players, and directed shows (and occasionally performed) for other theatre companies, such as Story Book, and Front Row Centre, and Bonavista Players, and Oh Canada Eh!?, and then there was Broadminds Theatre, and Workshop Theatre and… but any listing now is like so many sandcastles. Sometimes there were as many as four shows a year. And in those 30 years thousands of hours of work and care and contribution from a host of caring people has added to each moment. Each show was a process and a product, distinct, different, successful; rewarding. Shows like Carousel, Evita, South Pacific, Jesus Christ Superstar, Camelot, Educating Rita, Fiddler on the Roof, Pirates of Penzance, The Gondoliers, Tuesdays with Morrie, Patience, Harvey!, and…. And then came the final curtain. But now I listen again to the present meeting. Thanks to old Sean, Morpheus at last has found a new location, renovation will be extensive, the new season is discussed; the new nest begins. Tim Elliot, chair, asks, “Any last minute items?”

“Well, I’m retiring from theatre,” I announce. “My physical condition needs more care; i need now to conserve my energy for writing, painting, and reading.” Amongst the reactions, this question: “How do you feel about it?” I smile. “Happy. One can make the most intricate pebble-picture and somewhere in the process the eventual product, before it might even be a product, is whipped up by a sand storm (ha!), so one may as well find joy in the very process of placing each pebble, moment for moment, such as it is. The selection, the colouring, and the placing of the sand pebble of each moment within any show was the joy, is the joy, and the product lies in the up-to-the-moment of any given moment; so now I get to feel good, moment by moment, for what each moment was worth, is worth.”

And then I came home to that dead bird. All that effort; ‘gone.’ Hundreds of hours of searching for food, and then feeding the fledgling toward what was intended to be a full grown product. I sure hope the parents ‘enjoyed’ the effort! Moment for moment.