On Spirit

There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen. 

-Rumi

I began a journey, back in November. The inciting incident, as it were. Very recently, I was an office worker in local government, doing arts funding. It was rewarding, albeit unsatisfying work. 

I felt lost in my career. 

Partially my reasoning for staying had been to work on the life I was building with my fiancée. I lived in a crappy little house, impossible to keep clean. My two pets ran my life, and I was just waiting to get married. 

I felt lost in life. 

Over lunch with a young man who was leaving his job in real estate to do something in the arts, he had no idea what, he explained that he was doing this program by Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way. It was a twelve-step recovery program for stifled artists. 

Perfect for someone who was feeling lost. 

I ordered a used copy off Amazon, and when it arrived I started, more or less. Daily pages, which is journaling every day right when you a wake. A three-page long brain dump, hand written, for the purpose of focusing. 

Perfect for someone who was feeling lost. 

Nearly a year later, I’ve fought through severe depression, what I will address in later posts covering my dark night of the soul; drastic changes in my employment and living situation; world travel; a deeper understanding of faith and spirituality, as well as a more comprehensive exploration of those aspects of myself; and movement. A clearing of the path, so that I could find direction. 

I am no longer lost. I just have no idea where I’m going. 

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Avoidance

I’ve been basically committing social suicide, avoiding friends, family, and those concerned for my well-being. It’s been a long, tumultuous year for me, and I’ve needed time to sort life out. 

Questioning not necessarily my choices, but the underlying processes that led me to make those choices, had led to asking bigger questions. 

  • Who am I?
  • What am I here for?
  • What brings me joy?

I am not original in asking these questions, nor do I have answers at this moment. But that’s part of why I’ve taken to writing here, as I explore these things. 

Maybe I’ll answer the phone or reply to a text. Maybe I won’t. Someone told another that for me it would take time and distance. Perhaps that’s true. 

For now, what I have is the journey.  

Philly

I’m thinking of a Philadelphia prison. The one dickens viewed on one of his American tours. It’s old, long since unused for housing prisoners.

There’s a metal stair case I climbed, cold. This was months ago now. I wasn’t alone. 

Capone stayed there. Others. I listened to stories, read panels. Found heaters in central locations, warming my chilled extremities. 

Openings

There it sat. It sat, as it has been sitting for many years. A simple leather case, well cared-for in its time. Now layered in dust and cobwebs. Untouched. Waiting.

Paul had set it there, this leather case, many years ago. He would enter the room, and though he was thoroughly aware of its presence, he would rarely spare it a glance. And still, it waited. 
The case was itself nothing out of the ordinary. A relatively high-end purchase from a store uptown, or downtown. Paul could never remember. A gift from his wife. His late wife, who passed many years ago. That, he remembered.

Today, entering the room and seeing the case, long-undisturbed, Paul hesitates. 

“I had come in here for something…” He tells himself. Paul was the better part of seventy years old, and had found himself more forgetful of late. His wife always had the sharper memory, though, when she was alive. When they were together, and young. And it waits…

Paul loved Marianne from the momeant he saw her. It sounds cliche, in this day and age, but Paul knew then, first seeing Marianne, that she would be his wife. A love like that fulfills the deepest need, the greatest yearning. It is everything that is right in the world. 

But she died….

After three years of trying for a baby, Marianne had succeeded in getting pregnant. After five years of marriage, Paul would be a father.

“You’ll be a wonderful father,” Marianne would tell him. “You’re so full of life and hope.”

But she got sick…

The doctors weren’t sure what ailment she was afflicted with. Paul was by her side, sure that she would be fine. Hoping for the best. Knowing that they would be a happy, loving family. 

But Paul watched them both die…
Paul shakes his head, recovering as if from a bad dream. Memories can be so painful. Standing in the room, looking at an old, dusty leather case, he finds that he is standing right beside it. Looking down, he shakes his head again. His hope died all those years ago. “Why am I here?”
And It waits. 
The gift of his wife was now keeper of another gift, one that Paul had received as a child. With Marianne gone, Paul felt it was best to lock the gift away. He had no desire for it. Could not bare to think of life without Marianne. 
For over forty years, this most precious gift was locked away. Paul’s despair only deepened, attempting a life without her. Without love. Without hope. 
The world changed, and became a darker place. Each passing year saw Paul descend further into depression, and each passing year’s dust accumulated on leather bindings. Leather that was now being handled, tenderly wiped clean, Paul’s aged, gentle fingers restoring life. Inside, It senses that the time is at hand. 
Paul is old. And tired. He has spent the remaining years of his life lost, lonely, loveless. Hopeless. To be utterly devoid of hope, one must have hope ripped away. Paul opens the case. 
Inside, a small earthen jar rests. It seems so insignificant. Carefully, very carefully (the jar is many, many centuries old), Paul lifts the jar. As a child he was given the gift, and it remained, with the lid off, wherever he lived. After Marianne’s death, he placed its lid on the jar, stored it in the leather case, and set it aside. Now he holds it in his hands. Inside the jar, It knows it is time to wait no longer. 
Paul, with great trepidation, removes the lid once more, and his expectations of what would happen were incredibly mistaken: 
Nothing happened. 
Nothing perceptible to Paul, that is. Yet what he held was a Greek pithos, once gifted to humanity with instructions not to open. It was Pandora’s folly that released all of Earth’s woes, and Paul’s folly that once again trapped Hope within. Hope must be free, lest woes overtake us. And once again, Hope freely flies. 
For the first time in over forty years, Paul felt Hope, and was hopeful. Then he smiled.   

After Orlando

Had the privilege of performing in an event last night. After Orlando at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, part of the After Orlando initiative, where playwrights were asked to write short works in response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting. They started reaching out to writers in July. The only criterion was that the plays should be around 3 to 5 minutes. By mid-August, 70 short plays had come in from the likes of Lindsey Ferrentino, Neil LaBute, Mia Chung, and Nathan Alan Davis. The plays will be presented in readings around the country under the collective header “After Orlando.” Theatres can choose to read as many of the plays as they want, as well as supplement them with their own selections.

My piece, written by journalist Billy Manes, was as heartbreaking as it was the first time I read it at Play-in-a-Day, produced by Beth Marshall Presents. Beth also directed my piece. 

I’m hoping to get the video up soon, and I’m so proud to have been a part of it. 

Myriada

I may be making a word. From the ancient Greek “murioi”, meaning 10,000. Now, simply meaning countless in number, or an extremely great number. 

I use it today for the aspects of self we experience, both in present as well as over the stages of life. Myriada – the innumerable and ethereal life in transition. 

Perhaps there are those who exist as singularities, a perfect synchronicity of ego, superego and id. Or of childhood and futureplanning existing on one straight path. 

My life, however, has been super-curvy-wervy, and I still am looking for that true north. My true north, the Me I was created to be. 

As I set about once again to record my thoughts in “blog” form (I can’t help but hear Hank Moody’s voice when I write the word blog), I’ll cast this entry off with a quote from Martha Graham:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”