Monday, November 1, 2010

this is it: life imitates art

this is it: the first day of the rest of my month. my first entry of 30.
wrote this on the 48hr (spanning 3 days and two nights) train from seattle to chicago where i didnt have a book to read, internet access, nor anything but spotty cell phone service. it was a mini writing retreat in and of itself. and now im in chicago and gearing up for a hectic month of stage managing and working and writing. bring it, november!

so im sitting at a table outside joe bar last friday, my last full day in seattle, writing in my journal about the version of hamlet id taken a bunch of people to on wednesday, and how i would direct it were i to ever have that chance, and this person walks up to my table, flashes a bright, blue-eyed smile at me and says 'hi, nice to see you again. im charlie, and you are...?' i respond appropriately, we shake hands. he continues as he sits down in the chair at the table next to mine, 'sorry i was in a weird mood when you first introduced yourself...' i interrupt with 'well i was in a really big hurry, so...' and he proceeds to very naturally get to know me in an easy, charming, open and bright way that feels quite familiar. his eye contact is steady and clear in its desire to connect, his face hovers on the verge of a smile most of the time.
We talk about anything from our art, where we are from, where we live, what gets us up in the morning, to how we both like to write with our left hands backwards, how we share the penchant for writing notes to ourselves with pen on our forearms. He uses his hands to map out the visual nature of possible moves in a chess game, as if he is showing me some fine-tuned choreography, and my whole understanding of how to play opens up. He tries to illustrate the shape of the sculpture series he is working on and I grasp it conceptually, but not visually.
I speak of the end result of a theatre production in the same terms one uses to describe that moment of pure sound when a choir singing exactly in tune can create an overtone, that aural evidence of the whole being more than the sum of the four part harmonies. That Something greater that can always come of collaboration. The phantom note that shows you are right in the sweet spot of your art, your life, (same thing) that can resonate beyond yourselves and your collective efforts and touch others even when it doesnt exist anywhere but within the joining of your separate voices. I say out loud and later write furiously about the fact that this resonating tone, applied to all sorts of moments (Stone soup, loaves and fishes, fermentation, photosynthesis, human evolution, synapse firing memory, a cake, a shared meal, a song, a family, a community, love) is my definition of god.
Our conversation goes far beyond ourselves, and finding the places we resonate as artists is much more fulfilling than learning the specifics of our lives and histories. I basically already knew he grew up in the midwest, just graduated from cornish, does print making, and lives in a large collective house in the cd. None of that matters. Neither does his passing resemblance to someone ive made up. What I found to be revelatory was knowing that he too prefers working collaboratively, and loves being a part of a team, but tho he has dabbled with music, it is visual art, whether drawing, painting, print making or sculpture--each a practice as solitary as writing--that resonates with his soul, blossoms from his perception, feeds his desire to create and anchors him in his life. What I needed most right before ending my month-long writing retreat was to meet another artist that is figuring out how to balance the time they need alone to create and the time they need to connect with friends and community. This is not a rare difficulty for people. Most of us struggle with it. i find if I spend all my time alone I have nothing to write about anymore. I need human interaction to help fill up my storehouse of stories to tell. This is how artist communities get founded. This is why there are writing groups, shared studio spaces, multi-use venues, art schools, coffee shops. This is why I go to joe bar to sit among people and read and write and watch and make up stories and tell stories and meet people or get to know them without meeting them. This is why the month that I will be at rehearsal for paul's show every day I will also be posting a blog to balance things out inside me. And to keep myself in practice.
My new friend charlie gives me his card and a hug upon leaving. We promise to find each other on facebook. I realize how glad I am to know this person. this very separate person from my self (or any of the people occupying my head), but one that is working on some of the same things I am. He truly is someone I should have known. And tho he is almost a decade younger than I, we might be at similar places in our paths, or at least on the same curve of the spiral. close enough to wave, compare notes, and give encouragement.
And in case you were wondering, his stuff is amazing.

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