I’ve been busy since my last post/the Big Jade of 2011, and neglected to share the response I got from my aforementioned Friend Melissa. It was nice to hear that I’m not alone.
Her advice is pretty solid too. I need to work hardest on Bullet #4–PATIENCE. I don’t have a lot of patience in general, never have, and often catch myself in emotional spirals of this. Perhaps that’s another post for another time.
Read Melissa’s response below:
What to do when we we feel jaded?
Recently, I had lunch with a family friend of mine. Unbeknowst to me, she too had fallen in love with theatre and just graduated from college with a B.A. in Theatre. She contacted me through Facebook to ask if I’d meet up with her for lunch while she was visiting the city to “talk about theatre.” Throughout our lunch I was struck by how effervescent she was; she was beaming and energized by the city. All she wanted to know was how to do this thing called theatre. Should she move here? If so, when? Where should she look for casting notices? Which were the good theatre companies? Underlying each question was a pure love for performing and the willingness to do whatever it took to get there. As I sat there, I marveled at her energy and enthusiasm and wondered: How can I get some of that?
This past year, I have been jaded.
I haven’t been unproductive. I had two opportunities to help create and/or direct new work for the stage. Both were challenging, exciting and satisfying in their own way. But still, a sense of doubt was gnawing at me. It was something larger than these two plays. For lack of better articulation: why theater? And if theater, why this story? And if this story, then for who? Especially when thinking about creating new work, the decisions of story, place and character became near-paralyzing, especially with the backdrop of 2011 (protests, economy, politics, etc). What could I possibly say that was important? Meanwhile, I was seeing a lot of truly crappy theater. A lot. My anxiety turned to despair, I think, and feeling jaded. The classic and enigmatic Peggy Lee song played through my mind: “Is that all there is?”
Simultaneously, I was attached to a large project (let’s call it Project X) in a producing/administration capacity that was draining me of all passion and interest and challenging my commitment to the arts (or at least making me loathe that particular brand of art). And it was bloody exhausting.
So, I started finding joy in other things – cooking, bike riding, farmer’s markets, home decorating & reading. I thought fleetingly about giving it all up to become a sommelier.
My husband recently went on a very challenging hike of Mt. Washington with a friend of his. He said it completely drained him, which he was conscious of during the hike. He was actually inviting it. He wanted to de-charge his batteries, empty himself out, so that he could be re-charged.
I realized (with a glimmer of hope) that perhaps Project X was my own version of the hike. That I’d been sapped for all I was worth–by long hours, little pay, undesirable tasks, unimaginative art–and could now start to rebuild my energy, focus and joy. Recently, I finally am feeling excited and creative again. Things that have helped:
- Finding little coincidences in my work that resurrect a time in my life when I was at full theater/joy capacity. The impetus for a new play has come from a book I bought in Spain while working with Compania Atalaya.
- Seeing some damn fine theater (WarHorse, Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant)
- Being with people who are excited about the art I’m making, especially people from other disciplines
- Being patient with myself about making art. Giving myself a longer timeline than I’m used to because I’ll be damned if I’m going to put up crap just for the sake of working. (Remind me of this later, Liz).So, it’s a start. It’s still easy to feel burnt out, to instantly succumb to envy others when they get the grant/residency/review that you didn’t, to want to choose a glass of wine with the husband over a grant application (oh those grant applications). But maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to get back to the place where only the art matters and that’s where all my energy will go. And, if I’m doing it right, it will send it back to me threefold.