In that spirit, this post is not for the vast void of the interwebs. Or rather, it's not written with that audience in mind. As I type here from my small apartment, wearing my pajamas, with my cat sitting on my feet, my twinkle lights illuminated, I can see the faces of my closest circle of friends, my chosen family of creative world changers----the theatre artists, the teachers, the activists, the hummingbirds, the hard working souls who dare to imagine how the world could be. I pray you know who you are and how much I admire your talents, your persistence, your curiosity, the joy you take in the work. I hope you know how radically you have changed my life for good.
This post is for you. If you are like me, today was rough. Like me, you may have cried, swore, been snarky on social media, in real life, and wished to crawl into a hole, never to emerge again. Give up. Call it a wash, a loss, a situation that is too ugly and frustrating and full of things rank and gross in nature.
I see you and I see your pain. If I were with each one of you right now, I would cry with you. Yell at the tops of our lungs. Commiserate in this seeming nightmare that we are in right now. I would admit to you that I am terrified, in a completely unique way. I feel that I have lost all control. That I have no clue what comes next and if what we do from now on will make a difference. I don't know that I can imagine what victory looks like, or rather how that victory will be possible.
I once had a friend spend some time with me before I went onstage for a performance. When I got cold feet and began to panic, she lovingly but firmly put her hands on my shoulders and looked me right into the eyes. "You can do this."
You know what else you can do?
-Feel scared about how you will keep your health insurance
-Feel overwhelmed by the idea that as an artist, you are supposed to know the way forward
-Feel angry that once again, it looks as if the arts are fighting to justify themselves
-Feel any feeling that you want, however you want, wherever you want, whenever you want
You can do this. WE can do this. Do what? I'm not sure yet. How? I don't know. Will it be hellish along the way? Yeah, parts of it, probably. But we can and will endure and find the hows and whys and whens and wheres along the way.
I haven't gone to many events, protests, or rallies since the election because I've been too overwhelmed riding the waves of my own grief. I've gone from sobbing to shouting to silence in sixty seconds. I still don't feel like I have much power or answers. But I am here and you are here and I see you. I am with you, however far apart we are. And I would wrap my arms around you in the biggest hug if we were together and take you by the shoulders and tell you "You can do this."
I pray that this message of solidarity (if not a solution) reaches you wherever you find yourself tonite--both literally and metaphorically. You don't have to feel ok, you don't need to feel like a warrior. But you do need to know you are not alone. And that it's ok to take the time to ride your own waves of grief. We can take turns and cover each other--while one of us is paralyzed with sadness, another can stand up on the front lines. When one of us has the strength to be relentless in the fight for justice, another is gifted the chance to take care of themselves if they feel too shaken with grief to move forward.
So, my Dear Friends. Whether we march tomorrow in the streets of Boston, Washington, Los Angeles, Atlanta, or in our theatres, studios, concert halls, or galleries, we must MOVE. One step. Shaky and sad, mad as hell, not even sure where we are going.
As for tonite, this moment? Drink a glass of water. Allow your shoulders to relax. Take five deep breaths. Give someone a hug. Turn off the news, notifications, and try to get a good night's sleep. This is like a marathon--you don't sprint the whole thing. We need to pace ourselves to ensure that we make it the long haul.
All the love and strength to you tonite and going forward.