This idea of blogging and connecting to folks by sharing my thoughts seems awfully one-sided, to say the least. Although as a working artist, especially innovating We Live Here with Hand2Mouth Theatre, my job is creating pathways to deeply connect with my audience, and that might be you. So it is to that end— the joy of connecting with fellow humans in these rocky times—that I’ll share. I’ll continue to be inspired by the brilliant Maria Popova, whose The Marginalian newsletter rocks my world, as did her book Figuring. She connects seemingly disconnected humans and their thoughts in a way that feels organic, meaningful magical. Are most things we think about and subsequently make art about connected? As my friend Grant intimated in our last conversation? My nascent blog’s title, My Life is An Open Book, and subsequent posts will be a possible testament to that, a theorem of sorts, and my feeble attempt to connect my own bedside readings to my own life in artmaking
Questions marinate as I drift to sleep
Once I put down a book from my overcrowded nightstand, I meditate, thinking about the myriad notes I’ve inked in the margins while reading. (Hence my love of Ms. Popova’s title, The Marginalian.) When my father died, all the books beside his bed were highlighted with margins full of genius and insight. A book of poetry was open to a particular poem, a solemn gift. He died connecting, thinking, and connecting again, no surprise. I come by this writing honestly in the margins; my parents are fervent note-takers and great ponderers. Now that they are gone (although I’m certain my mom visited me in spirit as a hummingbird in my yard yesterday), I’m left with my own thoughts about such things. Which leads me to “What is on my nightstand?”
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer seems to be speaking loud and clear currently. And what am I left with listening to and reading that book recommended by a dear friend? What connects my reading to my work on We Live Here at Hand2Mouth and life in general at this moment?
It seems brazen to put forth such a thought amid such suffering in our world at this very moment in time. And yet, as I meditated this morning, I was suddenly struck by this love, an infinite well of love, like the one that I have for my two daughters, and it came to me; that love is the same love that I might have for anything, and that, in keeping with Mr. Singer’s thoughts, I can love everything with that very same love!
I’ve experienced that in the past. Days after my father died, the clerk at the grocery store asked how I was, and I dissolved into tears. He wrote a note on the ice cream I was buying with a thick black sharpie; “This is free today.” He signed his name to it as the ice cream manager. Even yesterday, when the plumber came over. As he left, he said: “I like your spirit!” Imagine a truly magical and profound connection moment with a plumber who will fix our pipes! (I hope soon.)
Finally, the piece de resistance, listening to Saul Bellows’ A Father To Be on The New Yorker Fiction podcast on my way to and from rehearsal at Lloyd Center. (Yes, that’s where we’re performing.) Written in 1956, Mr. Bellow was undoubtedly thinking about these very things himself, and we are on the same page over fifty years later! (Pun intended!) One moment he is angry at the thought of being taken advantage of by the woman he loves, and the next, he feels that kind of tsunami of universal love that we are all capable of. Bellow writes:
“I have a soul in me. No bigger or stronger than yours. Take away the externals, like the muscles, deeper voice and so forth and what remains? A pair of spirits practically alike.”
In the story, the protagonist, Rogin, later experiences his beloved Joan washing his hair in a porcelain bowl. He muses: “It was the warm fluid of his own secret loving spirit overflowing into the sink….” And love permeates Rogin once again, removing any doubt of his love for Joan. And with that, dear readers (I’ve always wanted to say that), I leave you to the possibility of your own tsunamis of love this month and invite you to visit us in Lloyd Center and see how we love and learn in community with We Live Here.