I thought of doing a 7 day stint in which I did not allow myself to talk about therapy. But we’re seeing the Sheepdog on Monday, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stick to it.
But in the meantime…
I’ve spent some of the last few days writing and rewriting plays. I wrote FEMALE GERIATRIC ZOMBIES UNITE and then played with it some, I revised THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD, PART 1, and I also did some work on VESSEL OF GLASS.
Of course this means nothing to you, dear reader, but to me…well, I wrote a comedy about an insane director and her equally insane assistant director as they cast a play for a demographic they don’t…well, enjoy. Then I revised an expressionist movement piece about grief and awakening. I know that the Buddha didn’t come to his awakening through grief–it was compassion that led him to explore his own mind to find an end to suffering. But I have awoken through grief, as most of us do (if we awaken), so I wrote a Buddhist piece about grief. In it, a child is tortured by her own mind, the equivalent, for us contemporary people, of Mara (who tortured the Buddha). I always think that if you’re going to write about human suffering, you have to balance the content with form and language that is utterly beautiful. Maybe I’m strange, but I think sorrow can be beautiful. Think of the arias sung by Maria Callas, or the tragedies of Shakespeare. Darkness is more about refusing to suffer when that is what life happens to serve up. Refusal is addiction, is acting out, is sadism, is going unconscious about who we are and how we go about getting what we want. So yes, accepting suffering without self-pity is beautiful.
Finally, I worked on a rewrite of Vessel of Glass. I have more work to do since a couple years ago I had a staged reading at the Nora Theatre, and there were lots of suggestions (most of which I disagreed with, but not all) that I need to incorporate without ruining the poetry of the language. Yes, perfectionism again. I want every word in everything I write to be rhythmically correct. No weird sounds, no odd repetitions–it’s like all writing is poetry and every word, every sound, every consonant and vowel…counts. Or you lose the song in the language.
When I write, the world disappears and it isn’t that I’m all lost in story, it’s that I’m lost in the concentration of making meaning clearer and beauty…just making beauty. It’s miraculous, to enter this place, to get to feel the expression of what is inside me. In Vessel of Glass, three women try to love each other, and the obstacles to the love are difficult. The first and youngest woman has been abused, the second is a closeted lesbian nun and the third is a menopausal mother superior who had no idea she could want a child or that this particular child would show up on her doorstep.
Writing about nuns forced me into dealing with the sacred. I was at Brandeis University on a scholarship in playwriting, and my workshop leader said, “If you have a character who is a nun, you must deal with the question of faith and God.” I was like, “Shit. How did I get myself into this one?”
He was right. I am so grateful, and I am glad to be in it. Religion, which I often hate, is nevertheless always about people trying to be better and find meaning, no matter how misguided they are. It’s to easy to create beauty when people are trying to be better, even when they fail–no, especially when they fail and realize it (remember, sorrow accepted is beauty).
You know, all my life I have wanted to be a bird. I wanted to grow wings, I wanted to soar like Icarus, I wanted the lift and heave in my muscles, in my body–when I do yoga, I love half moon, or handstand…any asana that takes me up and away from gravity. Writing lifts me like that. Not just any writing. It has to be creative, it has to be art, it has to have poetry.
There’s a Pablo Neruda poem called POETRY that talks about this. Here’s a part of it:
I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.
And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.
This is why we write, late at night, early in the morning, whenever we can. Nevermind the bill collectors, the houses we could have owned earlier, the trips we might have taken, children we might have had. Nevermind the food we couldn’t buy in one year or another. Nevermind the relationship troubles as we try to serve this god of beauty, of terrible truth. Nevermind. I am soaring, falling, I am lifted up, I am a bird, I have escaped the cage of daily life and nothing can ever be the same; I will never go back to being grounded in any permanent way, I will never forget, never give this up…I will stay in the wind, alive, awake and so….
I write. I lift a pen. I say a word.
Let there be Light.
And we are one.
Metta for everyone who loves beauty, who picks up a pen, who says a word, who dances, sings…whether in public or private. The one extending gesture…I do this because I believe in the world still, in spite of every darkness, in spite of every flaw.
I believe. That our beauty may save us. One of these days.