Tuesday, 17 January 2012


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.

1 comment:

buho said...

El buho and myself really found ourselves in what you wrote. Then again, my mother's son kicked back and my lover's lover might dread the idea of a transformation right now (reality has been comfortable and convenient). I'll ask when I see them... ;-)