With every new project, I enter willingly (at first) into a kind of existential Jekyll and Hyde–I’m at once so driven and buoyed by the process of creation, and utterly mystified and ground down by it. The time, the energy, the money it takes. The constant coming up against my limitations. Going down roads less traveled, many times only to find out the good reasons nobody goes that way.
A few years ago I almost gave up. My creativity felt like a paper airplane, asymmetric and awkwardly thrown, and I was on the brink of deciding to set a match to it all, hoping to stir from the ashes a more domesticated Phoenix. I love caring for my children and my home, and I could do it so much better if I found a way to put the kibosh on these flights of fancy.
A little background: I am stubborn about my creative ambitions. Really stubborn. And naive. Like, why wouldn’t things work out exactly as I’ve envisioned? These qualities have been the two blinders I’ve needed to help me run toward my dancing goals with a 20-year hope and almost pathological stamina. This may sound admirable, but I actually feel kind of silly about this part of myself, and very aware of how difficult it makes life for me and those close to me. It’s not all that surprising to feel like giving up in this industry/city, but for me it was a dramatically new feeling when fatigue and common sense began to loosen the blinders and for the first time plausibly suggest that it would be OK to step off this particular racetrack. Um, now I’m a horse instead of an airplane/bird I guess. Anyway…
That day…I remember it so clearly…I looked quitting in the eye and for the first time began to study its features, tentatively enamored by a restful beauty I had never before given myself permission to see. I sat there considering for probably one whole minute (which for me was forever), staring at the blurry outline of all that life could be for me without dance, and seriously asked if this was it, if this was the time to choose a new kind of life. And then the weirdest thing happened. I don’t even know how to put it into words, but something deep inside me reared up and said no. I actually experienced a physical sensation, an upward thrust causing my slumped spine to uncurl a bit, making room in my lungs for a deeper breath. No. Not yet. Keep going. I laughed, or sighed–one short, sardonic burst–and rolled my eyes. Grateful, resigned, I refitted the blinders and kept going.
So, here I am again in a new project. Chasing down new ideas, new forms, new physical experiences, new aesthetic convictions, and with them un(?)expected blocks and challenges and things that keep me up at night. I’ve started drinking coffee. The option to quit, to let go, is still there I know. Like a patient new friend waiting to tell me her name when I’m ready to listen. But not just yet.