Encouraging and Unexpected

Nothing makes your weekend like discovering that you’ve popped up in a YouTube video from a cause you’re passionate about. That’s what happened when I stumbled onto this, a retrospective video from the Applied Theatre and Marginalized Communities conference that I attended last March:

I’m in there like four times, if you can spot me (hint: I’m the one doing the Brooklyn accent while yelling out the “cab” window). That, however, isn’t the point of my posting it here. Finding this over the weekend was a bit providential, because I really needed it. Like any good conference, I returned from this one in March completely buzzing with great ideas and positivity. And, honestly, few things make me quite as happy and fulfilled as spending time with other theatre practitioners. Attending that conference lifted me from the doldrums that the daily grind can sometimes plummet me into, and refreshed my perspective on interdisciplinarity…that is, that all of these seemingly disconnected interests and disciplines really do inform each other to the greater good.

It’s amazing, really, how we cling to those little moments, be it a weekend or just an hour of productive writing activity, to reclaim a feeling that we’re not really wasting our time. During an amazingly hectic weekend, I walked away feeling so accomplished because of an hour and a half of productive writing time. Not that much for one day of the weekend, but it made me feel confident, made me at least think that I wasn’t just tricking myself into believing that I was doing something worthwhile. On Monday I experienced a similar “high on life” moment as I implemented tools I learned at the Applied Theatre Conference to great success in two separate sessions with adolescents.

Over the weekend, even if for a brief period of time, I left the robotic motions of just writing pages in a novel and re-discovered what I’m trying to say with the project. Today, I left the robotic motions of a day job and re-discovered how theatre can impact those around me for the greater good. I stopped just being, and began living again in those moments.

Perhaps, more than just fleeting moments of feeling good about ourselves (because buying something new can do that for the briefest of seconds), these moments of feeling as though we’re serving a greater purpose motivate us because we realize just how narcissistic we are to look no further than ourselves. The reason that these glimpses into my true passions invigorated me so much is because it shakes me out of the trap of just getting from today into tomorrow in one piece, which can so often be the short term goal of our lives.

Not that getting from today into tomorrow isn’t important, and not that it isn’t legitimately the only thing that we can manage sometimes. But it is so, so important that we intentionally step back on occasion and try to see the “big picture.”

Its that “big picture” that reveals itself to us in those moments, just like a character does to the writer when you hear him or her speak in their own voice inside your words for the first time, or when an actor begins to be someone else on the stage. That “aha!” moment when we remember, “that’s why I’m doing this!”

I’m a big believer in stopping whatever it is that I’m doing when I can no longer remember why I’m doing it. That’s why moments like this weekend, set in motion by something as small as discovering myself in a YouTube video, are important beyond measure.

I hope you find those moments, as well.

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