The power of one
One thing, idea, place, or being introduces a person to fresh and paramount layers of impact on both personal and collective levels.
This thought is accompanied by significant truth and experience, as a myriad of circumstances rushes forward like hungry canines. That one time, competition, place, trip, restaurant, party, photo shoot, song, movie, book, and pet. That one fugitive lover. That one heart larcenist. That one implanted in memory. Supplementary to romance, one idea in the life of a creative opens a portal to undiscovered worlds of revelation and opportunity. A feisty level of opposition says sometimes, while optimism says always. For some, ideas shy away from the light, as minds desperately urge them into it. This struggle diminishes enthusiasm and challenges conscious thought, at times making one feel quite incapable of ingenious fortune. However, ideas walk into the light when a room is ready for luminance. This is the reality for many, myself included.
This mind of mine built a shipshape house with several rooms, and for a while, that house sat in darkness. Not the despairing kind of darkness, rather, the unlit type. You know, the type that still allows sight.
The type that allowed sight through the sound of crickets chirping and trees dancing in the wind, footsteps on the balcony and the creaking wooden door. The type of darkness that longed to teach instead of to condemn. Yes! The helpful kind. Woefully, the mind is an involute place, and it got disoriented in its own home, shunning the darkness that only intended to bring forward good things. So, one shuffled around from room to room feeling a significant level of dismay, especially when the comparison of friends accomplishments to personal ones became habitual. This choice gave rise to a paramount level of creative stagnation, and of course, many dark nights and days in that house.
For the sake of clarity, visions occupied rooms in that house now and then, but, only temporarily. For further clarity, upon completion of acting school and a big move from the east coast of the United States Of America to the west coast, creative passion flourished. You see, when my mind laid eyes on San Francisco, it knew this was the place for creative rebirth. The environment, atmosphere, and energy inspirited a feeling of substance. However, quite expeditiously, and beyond life's mundane limitations such as finances, time, and lack of tangible resources, that substance melted like ice sitting in the sunshine. That reality poked apertures in a soul - one that only longed for "one" simple thing - an idea for a performance art piece, or some sort of equally satiating concept and by extension an opportunity to just live in its truest form - as an ingenious being.
Revisiting the opening statement that one thing is accompanied by significant impact is an appropriate thing to do at this time, as it serves as a testament to the paragraphs that followed that first sentence.
Without that one idea, passion wilted like a dying flower, zeal became almost translucent, and that house remained unlit. At the same time, desperation persisted, encouraging a manifestation of nonessential concepts, and families of inklings occupying rooms in the house, but they all lacked that innate sense of meaning and vacated quite quickly. It was only until one learned to just experience and allow, let them come and go, instead of applying desperate forcefulness to keep them near, then that chest full of imaginative treasures unearthed itself, and that house illuminated like never before.
This illumination happened in the beautiful month of July while sitting beside co-worker and friend, Mackenzie Quaid.
Her ears were either caressed or tortured with constant talk about a desire to produce a one-woman show. Mackenzie always listened and supported. She absorbed every thought that plagued clarity, then diffused kind and encouraging words. Helpful to say the least. An angel in human skin is a description that seems most fitting. We sat or stood - memory is indecisive - next to each other, working as diligently as customary, and during one of those silent moments in the office, a queue of words pushed their way through my lips, like New York City subway riders prematurely boarding the train before the departees exit.
The name smoothly flowed off the tongue and coincidentally the performance art space's open availability was in that month. Finally, an idea and a good one, so a deposit to secure the space became pertinent and for the sake of hilarity, the booking occurred before the scripting of the play.
August emerged with each day, providing a diverse range of writing material. The entire process brought to recollection failed journaling endeavors during childhood. Fast forward to some decades later when journaling became a favorite and compulsory pasttime. Such a rejuvenating process - the chance to log one's thoughts, feelings, daily activities, and reflect on them while copying fascinating paragraphs, then pasting them into the document that would later become the official script for August in December. The writing phase stole most of the following months, leaving only one month - November - to rehearse for a six chapter, one hour and thirty minute long, one-woman show which included dancing, singing, spoken word and of course acting. The month of November saw packed days of back to back dance, music, yoga, story time, and art classes which stole almost all the time from each day, with six-day work weeks, sometimes seven and hardly any adult social time. But, preparation for the show needed a place within those rigorous and laborious days.
The wee hours of each morning met an overworked body and overloaded mind. Feet lived in a blistered state. Arms developed some form of muscular structure, and frustration grew when dance choreography struggled to fill a body with life. Nightly showers became redundant as diving into the bed with a sweaty body seemed less strenuous. Some days, emotional release beckoned a body in the shower while slumber reinvigorated all that needed that caliber of rejuvenation.
Solitude became a gift as it provided a safe and nurturing place to let loose and truly find the ingenious being within one's scripted reality. It also fulfilled a soul which felt nothing less than a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Dancing alone, but relying on a reflection in a large two-paned mirror, singing to and running lines with that same reflection and at times even sharing a laugh. Madness, a description that seems conspicuous, but, when one truly finds their ingenious self, madness is no stranger, if anything, it helps one dig into untouched places and just having that ability is a beautiful opportunity. With all that revelation transpiring, a solemn level of exhaustion trailed behind like footprints in the sand, but exhilaration to create provided significant motivation.
The day of the first show met a body in its usual state of labor - teaching classes.
A few last-minute ticket requests from friends boosted ego and the knowledge that this "one" dream was hours from achievement sent radiant beams of light through a soul. A prouder moment ceased to live up until this point. Yes, achievement held these hands of mine for many years, but none quite like this. A show that was all mine - from conception to production to presentation. The whole world need not know about it, nor did they know, but I knew and those whose support awakened this ingenious being knew and that is all a soul needed to feel a genuine sense of accomplishment.
A quick rehearsal before showtime helped nerves surrender to serenity and provided a source of much-needed repetition a mind and body relied on to ascertain a smooth performance. Minimal set design made by the crafty hands of Jamie Mendoza enjoyed final fixings as I patiently sat through a momentary technical rehearsal. Confidence bloomed once all the indispensable rehearsals ended and eagerness to perform for familiar faces brought that renowned nervous feeling back into the spotlight. It continued into the final minutes before the doors opened, as unforeseen technical issues appeared. Thankfully friends and loved ones took action and lugged a quite heavy amplifier up three flights of stairs to supersede the unreliable one that instigated the issues in the first instance. With a few minutes left before showtime, more friends came to the rescue and assisted with makeup and slight costume adjustments.
Strung light bulbs and alcoholic beverages kept the eager audience blissful as one endeavored to quiet a mind, body, and soul with some simple deep breathing exercises in the backstage area. The sound of conversation perforated the thin walls of the dressing room. The atmosphere was jovial and inspiriting. A sense of gratitude permeated a body like blood, giving new life to a pounding heart. How can one be so abundantly blessed? A sold-out show and reliable people who came to support someone they appreciate. What more can one want or need? Not much, except a good performance. One that would not only entertain, but inspire thought, the significant, life-changing kind. The types of thoughts that come after a few puffs of cannabis indica or sitting under a night sky filled with beautiful shining stars and a wise full moon or both scenarios combined. The types of thoughts that alter one's view about life or themselves. At the same time, thought even in its simplest state is still the type one speaks of. Any impact would suffice, especially the meaningful, elevating kind.
A knock on the door disrupted the intimate segue for good reason and made one aware that the time is now in the present. Showtime that is! Dimmed lights, complete silence, and a brief introduction beckoned a tenuous body dressed in black on stage. Eyes relucted initial eye contact with the audience. A head full of hair faced forward and looked directly into the near future. A solid performance was the objective and a body relied on staying as tranquil as it possibly could, to resist any impending apprehensiveness that jubilantly danced hand in hand with the fervent energy of each audience member in the room. Feet adjusted into the starting position and a body crouched down behind an umbrella prop as eyes stared ahead.
Bright stage lights, illuminated the umbrella making it easy to see the eyes of audience members staring back. Silence filled the room until lips parted and the words "tick tock" led a voice through its opening musical composition. Nervous hands simultaneously spun the umbrella as a mind endeavored to divert itself with nonessential thoughts, querying the umbrella choice as it mistakenly knocked against the cold concrete floor. Eyes noticed audience members shifting in their seats, adjusting leg positions into supposedly more comfortable ones. This uneasiness provided the right platform for more mental distraction, but intuition put a stop to the diversion by flooding a body with a plethora of exuberant sensations until a gallant one-woman performer magically emerged.
Once the performance moved past the slightly earnest opening scene, laughs immediately echoed throughout the venue.
Oddly enough the resplendent laughter quieted an over-active mind, one that for a split second doubted the strength of the scripted words, it birthed, all because of expectation - the expectation that these words differed in assumed intention and impact. How beautiful perspective is and performance as well. So multifarious. And, the fact that this show was all mine, denoted I could either opt to stick with the assumed perspective or adopt a new, more light-hearted one. So, for the sake of flowing with the flow, the choice made ascertained louder and continuous laughter. A body, then became invigorated and breezed through dance moves that were once troublesome. Landing joke after joke and line after line, until it became so invigorated that, unbeknownst to me, this mouth of mine zipped past two paragraphs of lines. Oh boy!
My show, my mistake, my secret right?
The show took the audience through pivotal points of movement, musical compositions, and spoken word, at times rousing cheers as well as other vocal and physical forms of acknowledgment. At one point, eyes glanced to the left and noticed the head of a male nodding in acceptance and recognition of spoken words about womanhood. For a male to agree with words about the pain of a woman's menstrual cycle denotes they exuded a relatable truth which extended beyond the feminine realm. At that moment god like feelings descended and inspirited a mouth to continue preaching the word like a priest at Sunday morning mass.
Hair strands danced like slaves on emancipation day. Feet stomped and different vocal registers expressed words and melodies of the truth about past personal experiences. Moments which influenced the culmination of a show that looked so surreal even in the present moment. To hear, feel, and see the reactions in real-time and experience the resonance of those moments compounded feelings of absolute liberation and expression as each minute brought the end of the first performance into closer proximity. But, it all gracefully and consciously moved through each minute, without a rush to end. A desire to infiltrate the minds in the room made sure each syllable and melody glided into receptive ears and every aspect of movement burned into dilated pupils then etched its memory into inclined minds.
Day two met an exuberant body, high off the residual positive energy left over from the night before. Feelings of accomplishment sanctioned a mind to pat itself on the back, but only for a moment. An opportunity to return to the venue a bit earlier came into grasp and after considering some of the technical issues from the first show, getting there early seemed like an appropriate choice.
Tired but still drifting on a cloud of pleasant feelings, it was time for a compulsory rehearsal.
Everything felt less ill-timed and more innate. With knowledge and insight of the opening performance still looping in memory, last-minute minor adjustments, ones that would elevate the performance and shatter any opportunity for a mind to latch on to disruptive thoughts became pertinent. As a performer, one relies on living in the moment, inhaling and exhaling in that specific period of time so that the words and movement can flow forth liberatingly and innately. When stuck in their own mind, forgetfulness and disconnection come easily and considering that two paragraphs of lovely words went unsaid in the first show, the opportunity to change that sat with a hand in the air like schoolchildren waiting for their turn to answer a teacher's question.
Once again strung light bulbs reliably kept the audience company, but the atmosphere on this night was quite different to the one before. This crowd seemed solemn - not easily amused. This encouraged a mind to contemplate the previous night's spontaneous change of perspective and at the same time wonder if this audience would genuinely experience the show in the way one initially expected and assumed - less comedic and more earnest. Then a thought counteracted that, and the statement "there is a kind of earnestness in a comedic piece", came to light. So, this mind of mine shook off all these inhibiting thoughts and chose to just let the performance flow without restriction, after all, the opening show proved the reliability of this choice.
Once the audience members took their seats, and the conventional introductory formalities ended, a body dressed in the same black costume as the night before walked on stage and took its starting place, this time, applying a firmer grip to the umbrella handle.
Coincidentally, as this segment concluded, the laughter began. It seems laughter lived in every scripted word. Intriguing how the experience differs for the writer and reader, performer and audience. During the writing phase, editing continued throughout. A desire to ascertain the words lacked neither sentiment nor blitheness was crucial. But the foresight that it would engender that much laughter never came. I've not thought of myself as a comedian, but it is a compliment that is often received and embraced, more so now than ever before.
Comparable to the previous night's show, the performance moved through a scintillating variety and consistency of level changes procuring the same hefty laughter, head nodding, cheers, and other vocal acknowledgments. Everything felt more vigorous and mental diversions remained dormant. Personally, the highlight of the performance circulated around the emergence of "the cocoon suit". A stretchy spandex suit specifically meant as a tangible demonstration of the momentous process most women endure. Hormonal changes and feelings that can only be felt by each woman going through this major body change. The discomfort that occurs as the body is prepared for reproduction. The constant movement of all these parts working collaboratively to achieve a common goal. Womanhood and its internal struggle.
The bright, hot lights shone on the suit rendering it hot and sweaty. Breathing became constricted and hair smudged onto a face. Vision became obscured, but for the sake of art, this sweat-drenched and exhausted body writhed and wriggled from stage left to stage right, contorting itself into different shapes throughout the entire piece. Silence saturated the room, the same silence from the beginning, and a sense of trepidation as well, leaving dew drops all over budding and fully bloomed minds, like an early morning San Francisco mist. Through the suit, eyes saw a mix of concern and intriguing looks in the audience. While transitioning from sitting on the floor to standing, murmurs superseded silence. A body continued to writhe and wriggle around the room until it unexpectedly fell to the ground. Gasps accompanied by clutching grips to chest regions spread like a viral epidemic. A body stayed motionless for a bit, teasing them even more. Then a long exhale and stealthy upward movement from the ground onto steady feet transmuted their disposition.
Jumping ahead a bit, the crowd on the second night responded with more intrigue towards the closing scene - a simple unraveling of a neatly packaged roll of wool and a change of clothing. Both are meant to betoken the transition from past to present. Birth to magnification to renaissance. Their eyes focused directly on diligent fingertips being caressed by the soft wool as well as its rhythmic movement as they spun it free. With scattered papers on the floor from the previous scene, the room wore an untidy sort of decor, but amid the chaos, a tranquil body stood with eyes focused on the task at hand and the lessons within the moment - the learnable and teachable ones. It was deeper than just standing there unraveling this wool for the sake of frolic, it was about the process, attention to detail, care and at times deliberate rigorous movement applied when it resisted. Sort of like life right, those moments when that roll of wool called life unravels right before your eyes or wills itself into an unraveled state all for the sake of magnification. Then once one gets to the last bit of it, the vigilance is there. The understanding comes forth and one gets dressed and moves on to other experiences and maybe other sizes and textures of wool.
The audience quietly sat and watched fumbling fingers zipping up a dress, hands trying to tuck thick, curly hair behind ears, and feet slowly sliding into grey and brown wedge heels. As eyes broke "the fourth wall" and made direct contact with theirs, it was then they knew that this shared nostalgic journey was definitely over.
Gratitude filled faces made their way towards the stage right after closing remarks, obligatory sayings of appreciation to all in attendance - especially to those who assisted with every aspect of the show's success - and the final bow. An intense sense of appreciation flowed inward and outward. A pleasing feeling indeed and unforgettable to say the least. One show down and many more to create, as a queue of ideas humbly stood in the mind's eye.
This experience became the one defining moment. It opened up untouched places and spaces and stimulated them with the same effect as a night with an amazing lover. A mind craved for this type of climactic moment - the type that perpetually tempted one to search for more pleasure. An incipient zealousness coursed through veins, while a heart raced faster than panting exhales from the mouth of a pleasure hungry body. In the same way, pleasure experienced from sexual encounters makes one only long for more, so too did August in December. I craved the pleasure, to further create meaningful works of art that authentically defined the mind within the body, by exposing the audience to intimate details of thought, introspection, desires, influence, creative appetite, and so on. There is a great bliss deep down inside when recollection brings to mind the journey from beginning to the present day. Passage of personal creativity so far and the many concepts that lay awaiting their day of glory. Sensational feeling to speak of.
This recollection calls upon a certain type of momentary introspection that feels certain to say the universe, both within and surrounding, knew which journeys this human body and mind needed to experience in order to develop vigorous credence in its creative capabilities and by extension, to share that creativity with others. More than that, to have such a fluid ability to conjure visions in the first place and to engage with and befriend other astounding human beings who also contributed to the birth and rebirth of this ingenious being.
Praising oneself this highly seems quite boastful, but, if not I then who? Those who rarely pay homage to the ones who create with humanity's well-being in mind? You know, those creators whose intention, through the use of their art, is to remind others that everyone's journey is different and everybody's contribution plays a role, particularly those that leave a trail of positivity instead of the opposite. Truthfully, many of these faces will remain buried in the beautiful underground world where paparazzi scarcely reside, so never undermine your abilities if that type of fame does not shake your hand. This proves why it is absolutely compulsory to find pristine love for one's abilities and authentically harvest that sentiment. More than that, to identify the intention behind your art and the power it possesses on both a personal and collective level. Then, when that dark house you've built is ready for luminance and that universe within lights up, when that idea comes along and that body of work is ready to be selfless, share it with open-mindedness and let it build new routes to hope, expression, and empowerment. There are many out there who rely on it and need to be reminded of the power within themselves.
But to harness and sustain this power, one must also be willing to nurture other sentiments that are a helpful part of this process. More than love for one's abilities and craft, a significant amount of patience, understanding, and an inclination to let that love pollinate and guide you are important. When that choice became personal, all of those things filled that dark house of mine with a new type of light. The best kind of light. The accepting and tolerant type that at this very moment, shines brighter than the brightest star in the sky, gamma-ray bursts, and quasars (google it 😛).
So, whether probing for inspiration or other ingenious opportunities, remember the brightest universe out there should be the one that lives within and if you are having difficulty finding it, then rely on these words a beautiful soul once shared with me.
Once you tap into this conscious level of existence instead of coercing things into fruition, giving in to demotivating feelings, or letting your dream perish, seek out the learning moments during any tumultuous or stagnant periods. This paired with love, patience, and other previously mentioned sentiments, will allow the artistic realm you desire to emerge and illuminate every dark room in your house and on a deeper level, every planet in your universe.