Thème du jour: the allure and terror of transformation. I use the term "du jour" in a scandalously broad sense, for in fact the topic has been a major player throughout my life thus far but more so in the last three years, give or take.
I seem to have spent more of my life exercising my transforming abilities than most. Role-playing games were a staple of my younger brother David's and my seemingly endless afternoon hours, in our earlier childhood. And what roles they were! Larger than life, fantastic characters, donned with the earnestness and attention to detail that only children can muster and which the most gifted actors spend their entire existence striving to recapture. Later I remember discovering my capacity to simultaneously be the character while also consciously being my own spectator, a mesmerizing state to be in. This gradually became second nature to me, as I went from dancer to actress, to singer and performer. But these are, at the end of the day, just "games", right? Roles, played. Right?
Right. Until one day I caught one of these characters red-handed as it had insinuated itself in my "real" life. I happened to listen to a message I left on a friend's answering machine (remember those?) in the character's voice! I was shocked. I very soon decided that I couldn't be whatever character I was portraying at any given instance, 24/7. I felt that in doing so, I was running the serious peril of losing sight of the "real I", which after all was fuelling all these characters. So the character got neatly put away at the end of a rehearsal or performance, along with its costume, until our next encounter, at the next rehearsal or performance, and this has served me well.
Characters being what they are, imaginary persons in imaginary extraordinary situations (ordinary situations are notoriously bland when placed on a stage or screen), they tend to be wildly alluring but also in a sense frightening, if for no other reason than their intensity. Real life is by comparison tame and safe, like a cocoon.
What of this tame, safe, spectator self? Is it a constant?
Are we meant to exit this world (stage left) in the exact same state we entered it? No drama, no journey? No transformation? I should certainly hope not. Seems like an awful waste of life, to me.
And yet, how terrifying the prospect of change! For even in the will to change lies the tacit acknowledgement of our inadequacies. Even as we profess, in that endless esoteric debate (it's not just me, is it?) wanting to be "more this" or "less that", a part of us is also resisting these very desires because they are an admission of "not being enough this" and "being too much of that" while still strutting our stuff, thinking we're the swankiest thing to have graced this planet since the demise of the Rat Pack. So much for the tameness and safety of "real life".
Change is frightening in that it will inevitably cause us to part ways with what is familiar. Old slippers may be tatty and coffee-stained and we wouldn't want to wear them on a hot date, but -boy!- are they comfy! But the real terror hasn't hit yet. Guess what? Change is inevitable. Everything, everything, changes constantly and we change right along with it all. You can't step into the same river twice (thanks for making my day, Heraclitus, I love you too!).
To make matters worse still, it would appear that this flux has been, gently at first, more forcibly later, accelerating. The river is no longer the lazy lazy river by the old mill run, and even the most nonchalant glance out the port-hole will tell you we're headed for the rapids.
It transpires (and Charles, I know you're going to love this!) that a call for transformation is imminent. "Change or perish" roars the waterfall and the latter is rather the type of transformation that I, for one, would just as soon pass on.
Thus far, what was thought to be safe & comfy proved to be more hazardous than waltzing through a Cambodian mine field in floppy old slippers and Change went from being a half-assed New Year's Resolutions list first, to being an inevitable evil not unlike the sagging of breasts and the recession of hairlines and then, in a truly majestic coup de théâtre, to being a no-nonsense, wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee necessity.
There you have it, and it's quite the challenge.
Change doesn't look half bad now, does it. And so the idea is finally dawning that transformation might actually be a pretty nifty thing.
I am now again reminded of Peter Economidis' invitation to imagine the future, secure in the knowledge that we have the power to. Collectively and individually. It may well take a leap of faith, but it seems clear that leap we must. Leap I must.
And leap I damn well will!
Frankly, the cocoon hasn't been a safe harbour in a very long time. Just a sad dark cramped closet. So I guess this would be a good time to remember my dancing days and my role-playing skills to jump-start myself and emerge a splendid, alluring, shimmering creature, in risky but sexy Manolos (no less!).
Eight days shy of my 44th birthday, I stand here today, stretching out my mind, flexing my heart and my unfolding wings to embrace a life-saving transformation with all the tightness of focus that my 7-year-old self once displayed so effortlessly.
Next trick will be to keep from getting pinned down.
The magnificent rear end of the year most recently shown out the door thought it appropriate to leave a lasting impression on my psyche's retina. Had I been paying closer attention (instead of vaguely musing on the trivia of everyday blah) I'd like to think that I would have read the unmistakeable message of her lilting sashay, of the cryptic smile thrown in my direction over her weathered shoulder: "Brace yourself, lass! Things are about to get interesting."
She may have been a tramp, but true to form and despite her unnerving knack for understatement, she was no liar.
Certainly, I have had momentous encounters & have made life-changing choices in the past but never before did the realization of them hit me so swiftly. What followed was nothing less than breathtaking and I found myself beingsimultaneously swept by this electrifying sequence of events, thoughts & feelings and observing myself undergo this experience, as the mesmerized viewer of a high-end drama. I have been struggling for days to make sense of the upheaval that my encounter with you brought about. Had I been asked a few short weeks ago if I thought it a plausible string of events I most likely would have cracked a bitter-sweet smile that said "I should be so lucky". [And you would have dismissed the line with a quick "I don't believe in luck".]
I have no trouble remembering that first exchange almost verbatim, so profound an impact did it pack for me --- Why? It probably boils down to who & "where" we were at, of course. Also, I can no longer pretend to ignore the state of waiting I was in --- bursting at the seams (as you were very swift to read) with longing, my restlessness living just "under my skin".
Yearning for my focus to be pulled, to be engaged in a conversation that communicated something true, something of substance ---- finally to touch and be touched. And I did. And I was.
I now find myself wondering if I still have it in me to wait this out, as I have done in the past, earning myself the handle of "long distance runner". No longer in my first youth, do I have one last Marathon in me?
Even as I am writing this, another realization: in truth, there is no appropriate course of action to take, no choice to make, no right and no wrong to be done, for this is greater than both you and I.
I am reminded of that jewel of a scene in Casino Royale, when Woody Allen's character, Jimmy Bond is reluctantly led before an execution squad, breaking free over a wall defiantly shouting "so long, suckers!" only to land on the other side, at the feet of a prisoner as another squad opens fire.
To do this or that, now strikes me as futile as raising my forearms to protect myself from flying bullets or popping open my pink parasol against a tidal wave.
Therefore, be welcome, Wave!
You are, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the most annoying man to have crossed my path. You challenge me and arouse me. You hold me too close and you ruin my sleep. And as the brilliant Mr. Sondheim points out, you make me aware of being alive.
As we inescapably converge, I have but one more thing to say to you: