12 October 2008

Three Hun Dread

The last of these I did was "One Hun Dread." Why -- oh why -- would I skip the poor, hypothetical "Two Hun Dread"? Why, instead of attempting to memorialize my two-hundredth entry, did I write about coulrophobia (see 1/28/08)? Well, Dear Reader, 200 simply isn't a terribly interesting milestone for me, especially after 100. It would be too much like clockwork and, besides, 300 is a really impressive number, absurdly chiseled abs or no. After all, threes are funny, and the over-riding (and often over-ridden) theme of this here 'blog is something called The Third Life(TM). So happy Three-Hun-Dread, Odin's Aviary! If I were a wizard of web video, I would compose and post a montage episode a la Three's Company ('twould feature things like my earliest entries with their charming naivete, the entries that got me in hot water with a director, and a misty-eyed moment from the recent birth of Loki's Apiary). Alas, I am not, so instead I'll stick to my usual thing and write at excessive length on a variety of subjects conjoined with a barely cohesive argument.

Me, I'm a pretty big fan of anniversaries. They're usually charted by increments of time, but I feel that anniversaries are essentially an honoring of cycles, and so feel justified in marking them by a number of occurrence as well as by specific dates. What, then, is the cycle I'm celebrating here, apart from the mechanical fact of this being my 300th entry? It seems to me that this 'blog is a cycle of examination more than anything else. I'm grateful for every opportunity I can take advantage of to make a little more sense out of myself and my work, and the Aviary has been an incredible (and [it seemed at its inception] somewhat unlikely) tool in helping me to focus my consideration of my work, as well as to present that consideration for public review and accountability. The Aviary averages a very modest 30 page loads a day, but the key there is that I never can be sure who's reading. Think of that what you may, it leads me inexorably to the conclusion that honesty is the only policy reliable enough on which to base what I share here. I try not to think of it as therapy, but must confess that it serves similar purposes.

It's better than that, though, because all of you are reading and -- occasionally -- contributing. It's a dialogue, albeit one dominated by my topics and moderation, and this is key to the sustainability of the 'blog thus far. I have to admit that I function much better with an audience. Even the idea of an audience improves my performance. So thank you, Dear Reader. Even if you've never commented here, you have motivated me beyond any journaling experience prior to this moment. And this one. And this one.

There's no substitute for real-world experience and communication, of course, and I've had quite the dose of both in the past week. My days were spent teaching high school, my nights in auditions and rehearsals, and my weekend contained a wedding and a reunion. (Small wonder then that I have anniversaries on the brain.) I would think occasionally during this time of this here 'blog entry, aware it was coming up, worrying at first it might land in the midst of my North Pocono journaling, then wondering what on earth I had to say about the Aviary and life in general now-a-days. I came up with nothing conclusive, which is in keeping with my usual approach here. My experiences over the week, however, have had some culminating effects on me. It's been a little like living on a television show; it's been that episodic. This week has very little of the promise of such unique experiences, which is just fine. It gives me time to reflect. It also gives me time to prepare my constitution as best I can for Saturday . . . my bachelor party. (After which there may be a little break from 'blogging, the which may involve much laying about and nursing inescapable injuries to my physique and psyche.)

Weddings can be seen as first anniversaries or, at least, the promise of anniversaries to come. At the wedding I attended on Saturday, the father-daughter dance was especially beautiful. I noticed, as they danced, a recent father sitting with his daughter on his lap and I wondered if he had in mind what I did. We don't dance with great regularity now-a-days. This makes the father-daughter dance a little archaic but, then again, it also increases the likelihood that it is indeed the last time a father will dance with his daughter. Ceremonies like this are sort of our opportunity to lay out our intentions to the world and say, "Okay: Sock it to me." They're deliberate, and so can be perceived as a little stale or obligatory, but I actually find most of them to be quite bold and as a result necessary. We never know which promises are made to last, which dances will be our last, and so it is quite important to occasionally stand in the face of chance and conduct a simple ritual. It says, "This is what I will do, this is who I am." And at anniversaries, we get to relive that moment, whether it worked out for us or not.

It's part of my philosophy that our smallest actions have far-reaching effects (see 9/10/08), both in terms of time and space (geeks: relax; not implying they're mutually exclusive parameters). What, then, of our more grand actions, our lives lived out through continuous practice and commitment and recommitment? I'd start by suggesting that what we perceive to be our "grand actions" are probably, mostly, woefully inconsequential in comparison to how important they seem to us. My 300th entry, just as an example. But regardless of how our perceptions of our actions compare to their actual grand-scheme import, I believe they benefit from continuation. I believe in commitment as being something valuable in and of itself, if for no other reason than the fact that it keeps the story moving and, thereby, keeps it unpredictable. Is it a comedy or a tragedy? What note will it end on? The difficulty in perceiving the results of our long-term actions accurately lies very much in our involvement. This is a forest? Is not. It's just ... um ... a lot of trees ... a surrounding of trees ...

This part of my philosophy is one of the things about me that keeps me coming back (keep on comin' back) to theatre. In theatre work, the process is long and developmental, and collaborative. You get to see the ping-ponging energy of ideas passed in real time, in a real space with (relatively) real people. Even into the run of performances, the actions keep developing, keep changing, keep contributing something new to the dialogue-at-large. Everything we do has the potential to work this way, I think. It's just that theatre work affords me the best opportunities that I've found thus far for doing it well. And hey: If you want to really witness first-hand the repercussions of sustained work, go teach high school theatre. Seriously. Talk about changes. Changes are all anyone's about at that age range, though they hardly notice it, for all the changing taking place (see above: forest/trees). Last week's work afforded me so very many opportunities to reflect on my own high school experiences that I came out of it with an unanticipated sense of clarity. Who knew teaching gym classes was a route to clarity? I'm savoring said clarity for as long as it may last. Oh look: it's a forest!

I had yet another unexpected return to high school last night, when I met Friend Kara for dinner. She was in town visiting her dad, and managed to make a little time to reunite in person, our Facebook(R) reunion a thing accomplished weeks ago. Kara was my very first, really real girlfriend, and we were both deeply involved with the theatre program at good ol' James W. Robinson Secondary (What the...?! When did they get that Georgetown-looking clock installed out front?). On the heels of my first high school immersion since attending, Kara and I caught up and reviewed our notes. There was surprisingly little talk of theatre, actually, possibly because Kara has in recent years moved on to other long-term activities. We focused instead on the delights of adult perspective on youthful dramatics, and on acknowledging that for all that additional perspective, we don't feel all that different from who we were when we met. These people we've been, they live on, and get added to. Like a good collaboration, the process of understanding oneself has a lot to do with finding agreement and building upon it. "Yes, and..."

It's good to have the opportunity to look back on the building, and forward to more of it. Wheresoever it may lead.


Kara Tyler said...

Awww I get my own "Friend Kara" and a little tag in love. I'm famous now!

And yes, ultimately things come in a circle, somehow spiraling in/out. Self awareness and perspective are profoundly difficult to hold on to but so essential to being a healthy soul.

- Your really real friend Kara

Jeff Wills said...

You very nearly got Massively Influential Figure From My Past Kara, but I opted for simplicity.