Looking in the mirror…
And I don’t know who is looking back at me.
December 24, 2011 Merry Christmas Eve!
This year in May, I decided to take a break from my artistic life in order to focus on the work my son needs to do to get into college. He is following in his parents footsteps and wants to pursue a degree in performance. The kid has many more talents than I ever had and I have full confidence that he will forge a career in the arts in a way that I never was able.
Now that I have been in this self imposed break mode for a while, I am having an unexpected reaction. When I made this choice, I assumed that I would be itching to get back to the stage. I am not. I recently confessed to a friend that I had a feeling that this may be a very long break. Secretly, I am wondering if I am even an actor anymore, especially since I have filled some of my ‘time off’ with athletic competition.
Just writing those words scares me a little…perhaps a lot. I have been on stage since I was 15….do the math. I also realized that probably most people who will read this blog do not even know that I am an actor. Odd.
So, what drew me to perform? And what has changed in the last year or so to make me wonder if I am done?
I got into acting for a very common reason amongst actors…it was a place to hide in plain site. Being me was very dangerous and acting provided a place for me to express myself safely. As an actor, I would make myself as small as possible in order to make room for the character, for her truth, for the truth of the story. I have become relatively skilled over the almost 30 years of this work.
But here is a huge piece of this new puzzle…since I started Scottish games, since the work I have done at Undisputed, there is a piece of myself that began to grow, that fought against that need to be small. In fact, when I lift or throw, being small is actually dangerous. I have somehow found this new endeavour that requires me to be as big as possible. I have struggled in some games (Tuscon) when the desire to hide me seemed to be overwhelming as I would try to throw. When I hide me…I throw like crap. It hasn’t been easy, but I really like this work…this acceptance of who I really am. Face it…I am physically a big girl. To move well…to throw well…to BE well I need to allow myself to fully inhabit this body. Scottish Highland Athletics not only requires this of me but celebrates it.
I am really struggling. I don’t know how to bring this different sense of ME to my acting. Does the athletic work change the kind of actor I am? Can I really do and be both?
Or am I done?
I realized that part of my problem getting to the gym and training the last few weeks is really about this struggle between the need to hide who I am and the need to fully express my BIG self. I think it is not even just a ‘big’ self…Perhaps it is is simply…self. Yet, I am afraid I am losing something dear to me….my artistic life.
There are some similarities between acting and throwing…most importantly is the idea of being fully present to the work…hmm…to one’s self perhaps?
Sigh. Talk about unseen consequences…I guess all I can do at this point is focus on my health…and see if any artistic projects come along that light me up in the same way the throwing has…
More importantly, I have to get back in the gym…I probably need a swift kick in the butt from some of you…please? I can’t do this on my own!