Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

03 July 2011

To Be Fed

I have just returned from about ten days of work for Endstation Theatre Company in Virginia. Visit their website and fall in love. This is what it looked like at rehearsal every night for Twelfth Night, the show I was working on for them:

I posted last August about having a summer of the spirit. It must be something in the air over at Endstation. One of the things that the summer does for me – and this is not to say that teaching and writing and studying are not spiritual or moving experiences, anyone who reads this blog regularly knows how regularly my students and my work impact me spiritually – is that I get a chance to pause. This means that I have time to take stock in the directions I have chosen, to reconnect with my own goals, and to spend time that is truly precious with people I deeply care about who are not my students, but who are my colleagues, friends, and co-conspirators. I get a little emotional (a pattern recently, hmm) when I think about what this time means to me, how it energizes me and pushes me forward.

I am in California now performing a wedding for two of my best friends in the world. Weddings mean parties and silliness and fun, and I've spent the last two days in the company of some very dear friends of mine talking about marriage and the future and (ugh) salaries. But the best part of all of this is that it feels like home. Fundamentally, having a solid group of friends means having a steady and constant system of support, even if that is only for ten days in Virginia or for three weeks in California.

This is not to say that teaching doesn't feed me, and that my wonderful students, of whom there are many, do not energize me or excite me. They do. Very much so. But perhaps what I am learning is that I need to be fed in several ways: artistically and spiritually as well as intellectually and pedagogically (creatively). There is an excitement I feel when I teach, a palpable energy of information being exchanged and collective learning. I need and love that excitement. And there is also a different kind of energy exchanged when I sit down and drink a beer with my friends.

It seems cliché to say that the world is about balance. That I need both of these, and that I need to find a way of braiding them better into my everyday life. Cliché it may be, but I think it is, in this case, correct. I do. My life in Tallahassee feels far away from the lives of my friends and colleagues, far removed from their support and faith in me. But this distance is something I know I perpetuate.

It may seem odd to come out of all of these musings by setting myself a task, but that is what I think I will do. It is, perhaps, part of my own fundamental belief system that I wish to strive to make my own life better, that I can spend time figuring out how to become the me I wish to be. This is only possible through tasks, through work, through... and I use this word too much, probably, but it is because I can think of none better: practice.