The above quote from Ira Glass can be heard when he introduces Act II of “Hit the Road” on This American Life. I listened to a downloaded podcast of the program as I returned from driving my brother back to my mother’s house after his most recent stint playing “Uncle Dad”–helping me out with Sarah so I could work after school programs while Nathan is away at a summer theatre job.
The statement struck me, because I wonder if anyone ever stops trying to figure out who we really are. Is there ever a time when we aren’t taking the next step into the unknown?
The thing about living and working in creative fields like theatre and writing–as well as working in academia–is that all projects are finite. Classes change semester by semester; even if you teach the same ones, the students are always different. Shows open and close. New projects come and go. New ideas appear and disappear.
Whenever I finish a project, even one with a bumpy ride, I go through a short period of mourning or of postpartum. Saturday I finished a program called “In Our Own Voices” intended as an after-school program to improve literacy through drama. It was supposed to be a 16 week program that, because of the powers that be, extended to a 20 week program which was much too long. I worked at 3 inner city schools. The program had many ups and downs, mostly coming from administrative chaos, but also from one of the schools with kids whose lives are difficult on all fronts. This project gave me many moments of sleepless nights, tears, anger and feelings of failure–although there were moments of joy and laughter as well. I’ve never been so relieved to see a program end, and end well (for the most part).
Yet, I still feel this sense of sadness, of emptiness, and of fear even though I was ready for it to be over. Why? Because now I have to step back on the road to the unknown. For the summer my time is my own (for the most part). I achieve or don’t achieve based on my own plans. I have one “paid” job for the summer theatre–as outreach coordinator touring (and directing/maintaining) a show called “What’s the Difference?” which explores the issue of bullying. I’ll be taking it to area camps and library programs, etc. and facilitating the discussion after each performance. But that won’t take up all my time.
So I have no excuses. If I want to create, it has to come from me. If I want to feel like I’m accomplishing things, it has to come from me. If I want to feel fulfilled, it has to come from me.
Projects that I want to work on include:
- The complete revision of my current manuscript, because I’ve decided to move it from 3rd person to 1st person (for the most part). I’m about halfway done with the rough revision, but will still have to go over it a few more times.
- The complete restructuring of my Introduction to Theatre course for two reasons:
- I am bored to tears teaching this class for what feels like the millionth time, so I need to do something to keep it fresh.
- I am teaching both a live version and an on-line version. I have to figure out how to teach a course that–when I teach it–usually involves on your feet activities to a virtual classroom
- A revision of my upcoming Theatre for Young Audiences classes to allow for working with some area high school students with severe developmental challenges who will be participating in the course.
- I want to write more short stories and submit them somewhere.
- I want to get started (or continue to work on) another novel that is in the early stages.
- Re-organize my house to maximize shelf space.
- Getting myself fit and losing some weight.
Beyond that, I again move into the unknown and wonder what the future holds. I’m still trying to figure out who I am.