Friday, March 25, 2011
This Sunday will mark my first encounter with Boulder two years ago. Two years ago I came to Boulder to visit Naropa and understand the place where I would study. And, now, basically one month left of graduate school. I am excited to get to the finish line, but will still try to practice mindfulness to enjoy the remaining days, rehearsals, and lessons.
Rehearsals during the month of February were incredibly productive and unifying. We created a lot of material and by the last full rehearsal at the end of February we sequenced together a number of moments to witness some understanding of an arc to the work. I was very impressed and excited when after presenting some of the work in a Work-In-Progress showing for faculty and classmates, we received very heartfelt responses to the work and the aesthetic. It was also reflected that we have a good dynamic of ensemble occurring. This I highly agree with and enjoy! My cast has been amazing.
Over the first three weeks of March two of my cast members were unavailable due to their class assignments in Moment Work with a member of Tectonic Theatre Project. I was able to go into the studio and keep crafting my character and to work with Charlie to anchor his character and our connection. But, it is hard to fully investigate the work without the other two cast members. I have also been doing a lot of reading and coming up with some great dramaturgy for the piece. This week I was able to have a day of rehearsal with one of the missing cast members and we steeped ourselves in the intellectual concepts I have been researching for her character and its contributions to the intentions of the show. I also had a wonderful three hour session with my teacher Leeny Sack discussing concepts and script elements. I feel truly blessed to be working in this environment.
Recently I was notified that I was selected to present a performance piece at the This Is What I Want festival during the Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco at the end of June. I am excited to create the piece and present it as part of a homecoming. This week of Spring Break provided some time to conceptualize the piece while I also worked on my thesis. But I know that as the thesis ramps up over the next month, I will have to put the June show on the back burner until after April 23rd and 24th.
Life in Boulder outside of school activities is boring. I miss my friends, family, and favorite spots in San Francisco. Being a poor graduate student the highlight for me is every so often going to a coffee shop. I'm getting drained from this solitary life and the minimal opportunities to meet people. And I guess I should be honest, meet gay people or gay friendly people, or feel a greater sense of openness to difference. Perhaps I have a limited view of this area, but I just haven't really felt an honest openness to difference as I do in San Francisco. And it gets exhausting to reach out when I feel suspect on some level here. I don't fall into all the norms that surround me.
In all the personal challenges and internal investigations I reflect on a wonderful book I read for my Hindu Traditions class at Pacifica. In A River Sutra by Geta Mehta I remembered at the end the reflections of the ascetic in response to the main character's confusion about his secular life in later years:
"I have no great truths to share, my friend," he said patiently. "I told you, I am only a man."
I could not believe my ears. "Was it worth so much pain to discover something so obvious?"
Professor Shankar remained silent, and again his silence infuriated me.
"Is this your enlightenment? Is this why you endured all those penances?"
He gave me an ironic smile. "Don't you know the soul must travel through eighty-four thousand births in order to become a man?"
He turned and I almost didn't hear him add, "Only then can it reenter the world."
I wouldn't say I've gone through the entire eighty-four thousand at Naropa. But I think the trials here add to the many other trials I have said Yes to in my past. I think at this stage I am ready to reenter the world with my soul as it has been formed by Pacifica and Naropa. I hope I can show my worth as a man of soul as I go forward. Something else that strikes me as pertinent to that bit of text is the Professor's silence. In many ways, how can you really enlighten someone who has not gone on the journey themselves to the importance and change that occurs within the penances of spiritual engagement? The discovery may be obvious in its conclusion, but its discovery is made that much richer by the process preceding it's revelation.