We’ve been thinking a lot in the wake Walk With Me; its hold on our psyche outlasting the short run it had in the beginning of December. The core team behind Walk With Me met up recently- and out of the many wandering rabbit holes of our creative imaginings, one thing was clear: we need to keep doing this.
The new year that begins tomorrow may feel like many things to you: just another day. Perhaps the day you will finally start drinking two liters of water every day and recycling as much as you always wanted to. I want to keep my work space and living spaces cleaner. I want to gain muscle. I want I want.
But I’ve stopped for a moment, today, to ask what I need. What the world needs. What I can offer the world. And it is in these precious, fleeting moments that I can see things in a very simplified but real way: that the world needs human connection. It needs care. It needs Love. Radical love. Not the easy, love things that are easy to love like your new blender and indoor compost bin. The hard love: Love that transcends easy to something much more impactful: radicalism.
And I find myself asking: what does radical love actually look like as a tiny human being on a tiny planet in infinite space? What can I possibly do to alter the direction of the universe? But perhaps it is less about the cosmos; though I could live there all day (and lose my mind quite easily… so I digress.); and more about the every day stuff. That person sitting across from you at the coffee shop who is glued to their phone? Maybe someone you know and love who is sitting in a dark hole of depression. Maybe someone you don’t know, at all; someone you have never seen; but your heart breaks for them. Because you know they are out there- living the grind every day in and out; toughing through things you have never witnessed personally; hunger, homelessness, drought, fleeing a war-torn place that used to be home. Hiding behind the prison of a face that says “I’m okay.”
Creating, and then performing Walk With Me was a transformative experience for everyone involved. As an actor after a long hiatus, I underwent a changing atmosphere of my inner world; and the lens through which I experience the outside world. Throughout the whole creative process, we kept coming back the the same phrase: There is no other. We embodied trauma. There is no other. We embodied sexual exploitation. There is no other. We embodied ourselves. There is no other.
I was not left broken at the end of this show, as much as that may be a surprise. Tired, for sure. Bruises that are STILL healing from how physically demanding the piece was to perform multiple times in one night. But I was not broken. Not in the way you think. I was broken open. I felt a connection to humans in yet another fascinating, beautiful and heartbreaking way. There is no other.
As the core three of us sat and talked about the next steps for this show (hint: this is not the end…) we started to discover the seemingly endless cavern of possibility. Art has power. I cannot underestimate that. In my darkness that tells me that my work is meaningless when people are starving and I’m making my special high-protein quinoa porridge and wondering how finances will pan out in 2017 and semi-hating myself for it… I am reminded that art is powerful.
There is a reason for all of this. If you are so lucky as to find your talent- your gift to this world, use it. Harness that thing and make it a beautiful fire. Burn it with abandon, don’t worry about the resources running out. As long as it stems from love it will never retire, it will never run out.
I encourage you to explore what it means to burn the candle at both ends. It doesn’t mean don’t have a back-up candle or to sometimes let it burn slowly, or just one end at a time. You need to take care of yourself. Radical Love is also radical self-love. This is included. And if you truly love yourself, then you can truly love others. And what else is the reason for anything, really?
So take a minute. Set your resolutions, fine. Recycle. Eat kale. Run your half-marathons. Go for walks. But do it because you want to make this world a better place. And the best way to start is by making you a better person in this world. Because you matter. Your work in this world matters. Your presence matters.
As we ready ourselves to re-enter the world in a new year- maybe very much the same as it was; but hopefully with a small sparkle in our eye- or at least the hope for a glint of a sparkle in our eye… Let us commit to being our best selves. Discovering passions, honing them, turning them into something that makes the world a better place. Because what else is the reason for anything, really?
Here at The 5th Wall we have some exciting plans for 2017- and maybe only some of those will come to fruition. But with the power of art and healing in our belts, I can say that I feel at least a bit prepared to take on the challenges that face us moving forward.
“There is a poverty of the body in the East, but there is a poverty of the soul in the West. Keep doing what you are doing. ”
-Anne Bogart, paraphrasing wise words given to a friend from Mother Theresa.