In the 1970's, my father was an actor in many community theater summer productions at the Wilton Playshop in Connecticut. At eight year's old, I fell in love with everything about the theater; the anticipatory energy, the magic, the story, the intermission snacks and being allowed backstage because I knew one of the actors. I felt so proud that my dad was the man on the stage with the deep bellowing voice. This was the era of Cabaret, Anything Goes and Fiddler on the Roof. And my dad played Tevye.
For years after my father died, I couldn't listen to Sunrise, Sunset without falling to pieces. He infused emotion into those words that were beyond my years but when I heard my dad sing that song from the stage, my throat tightened, my eyes welled.
It's a gift to be so moved by artistic expression.
The energy of opening night was palpable. All the months of preparation, memorizing lines, creating costumes, building the sets and rehearsal after rehearsal finally come down to the moment the curtains whooshed back to reveal the story about to unfold. And there we were, a collective of the mesmerized; the audience. We were quiet and curious. And at eight years-old, I was squirmy.
One of my favorite parts of going to the theater has always been the intermission. I'm usually a bit restless from sitting and the thought of eating cookies while taking in the cast of characters who play the audience members is something I've always enjoyed. In the 70's the style was poncho's; today, pashmina's. Each member of the audience was a fascinating work of moving sculpture. From hairstyles and lipstick to baubles, scarves and shoes, I'd take in the living canvases from my 4 foot tall perspective.
The Wilton Playshop's reception area had a wood floor that creaked under the scurrying weight of wine and coffee seeking theater goers. Refreshments were set out on lace-clothed tables where I'd occasionally steal a sugar cube intended for coffee. Plates upon plates of cookies sat out in the open, ready for the taking. No permission needed - my mom was busy socializing with friends complimenting her on my dad's performance. If I couldn't catch a whiff of her Arpege' perfume, it was safe to take 2 or 3 cookies at a time.
A live theatrical performance is like life itself. Anything can happen. An actor may be cursed with stagefright, miss their cue or reach for a crucial prop that isn't in the right place at the right time. Isn't it the element of surprise that makes a live performance so thrilling?
I still revel in the anticipatory energy of intermission. Although now I usually race for the bathroom first, cookies, second. Intermission is an exciting time to review the highlights from the first act while remaining curious about what will be revealed in the 2nd act. It's a time to wonder, how will the rest of the story unfold?
Yet in our own lives when we are between acts of marriages, motherhood or job titles, we often feel a great deal of discomfort with not knowing how the 2nd act will play out on the stage. Instead of curiosity about the unknown, we have anxiety. Instead of trusting the show will go on, we are too busy writing and rehearsing every possible denouement.
While we're so busy thinking we miss the opportunity to relax during intermission.
I'm doing my best to remain curious during my current intermission. The time after the few months of travel to Thailand and the Dominican Republic for a book project and before the . . . . the next act. Which is formulating.
My intuition tells me the next scenes have already been written. Yes, I'm a believer in destiny. The older I get, the more I see how the events in my life serve the purpose for which I am here. And at the end of my life's performance I want to bow out with a wink to the playwright, now, it all makes sense. Well done.
In the past I was attached to the knowing. I really liked to know. To be certain. To feel secure. But life can be a series of seemingly unscripted scenes and pointless vignette's to the actor who has not read the script from beginning to end.
I'm being mindful to enjoy the intermission. It's a conscious practice in allowing myself to embrace the delightfully child-like curiosity of wondering what will happen next.
Will I get certified as an English teacher and teach in other countries? Will I find a telecommuting job on FlexJobs and be able to work in yoga pants? Would I go back to waiting tables and enjoy my morning routine of sipping tea in my chair by the window where the persimmon tree entertains me as I write?
Or maybe I could convince a few friends to partner with me and run an Air BnB in Nicaragua or Spain.
Wouldn't it be fun if . . . .