I have worked on this play alone, with a dramaturg, and with my writing partner, for many years. Often I would say to myself, "Why are you still working on this? It's a waste of time." But something compelled me to go back to it and to keep re-working it and refining it. And the joy of the writing always motivated me to keep at it. And the desire to entertain and also be of service also inspired me.
I never really thought that someday it would open in a theater in New York, with an excellent cast and director and that people would come and see it. I never really imagined that there would be an audience for this play and that people in New York, one of the toughest cities in the world to succeed in theater, would actually laugh and really enjoy it.
This entire experience has been (so far, at least) a labor of love, community, creativity and joy. There have been difficult times, creative arguments, some scary moments, lots of stress, but overall, so far it's been a dream come true and everyone from the assistant stage manager to the director is enthralled with this production. I think the fact that our director has set a tone of generosity and respect for everyone, has given us all a freedom to be part of the creative process, enjoy every moment, to stay in the now, to take each day as it comes.
I decided to look at one of my Pema Chodron's books this morning and opened to this passage:
"We never know
When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don't know what's really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don't know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don't know. We never know if we're going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there's a big disappointment, we don't know if that's the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.
I read somewhere about a family who had only one son. They were very poor. This son was extremely precious to them, and the only thing that mattered to his family was that he bring them some financial support and prestige. Then he was thrown from a horse and crippled. It seemed like the end of their lives. Two weeks after that, the army came into the village and took away all the healthy, strong men to fight in the war, and this young man was allowed to stay behind and take care of his family.
Life is like that. We don't know anything. We call something bad, we call it good. But really we just don't know.
Learning to live with not knowing has been a challenge for me, but I'm definitely getting better at it. Like so many things in life, it is a practice and you just continue working on it, not until you get it right or perfectly, but until it becomes second nature. And I don't know if that ever really happens, because even someone as enlightened as Pema Chodron says she struggles with day to day challenges.
Just being alive is a gift though. It's almost May, the trees are filled with gorgeous blossoms. And I look forward to tomorrow night, to being back in the theater with my wonderful creative family.