How do you feel?
This is the question everybody keeps asking me.
After nearly 6 months of working to bring a play from idea to implementation, after beating a script into submission, hunting for theaters, soliciting actors, rehearsing to ungodly hours, doubting every facet of my life, and more restless sleep than I care to remember… I’m not sure how I feel.
I know I am incredibly proud of the show, I felt warmed, and purged, and impressed, and wowed and fulfilled, but this past week has almost felt like a hangover.
I know I don't feel numb, it's actually quite the opposite, I think I feel everything. Kind of like being underwater, where every sense on your body feels something, like you’re enveloped.
I do know I feel tired. I haven't felt this tired in years, since I was 21 and running homecoming for my school. A week of events had left me so drained that I fell asleep sitting up at the lunch table on the last day. The mayor was sitting across from me, kicked me under the table and said
Hey, go home and go to bed.
This feels kind of like that.
How does one even begin to contextualize something like this? How can I make others understand when I myself have barely managed to wrap my brain around it. I think about every moment of the process every hour of every day. I quote the play in my head. I replay conversations I had with my actors. I relive the feedback I heard from the attendees. It is like the entire experience is on loop in my head and I kind of can’t stop it long enough to realize:
A: It’s over.
B: What that means?
People also keep asking me what’s next. And while I know, I’ve known for months what my next project would be… I’m not ready to look at it yet.
It’s kind of like finishing a really amazing dinner. A meal that was slow cooked that you took your time to savor than lives on your tongue long after your plate is cleared. And the natural instinct is to start the next course, or dessert, but I’m not ready for the sensation on my tongue to dissipate yet.
This project took so much out of me in the best way possible. I honestly believe by the time Saturday night came, and my actors took their last bow… I had nearly nothing left to give.
Every night of the show I watched from the back of the theater, trying to gage the audiences reactions by their faces, trying to anticipate how it was making them feel. My head swiveled back and forth from my incredible actors to the audience. Back and forth, back and forth.
But on the last night I had a hard time watching the show. It had nothing to do with the fact that I knew exactly how it would go, or that I had seen it dozens and dozens of times. Something about the fact that this was the last time it was going to happen made it almost unbearable to watch.
Logic says to me that it should have been the opposite, that I should have been glued to their performance, but for some reason, not knowing if I would ever see it staged again almost… hurt.
And so these last 7 days I too have almost hurt. I feel slow, purged but at the same time sluggish, laden with all of the emotions I struggled with over the last 6 months… over the last year.
I have had crazy dreams every single night. Wild dreams with diverse casts of characters in far off places, a result no doubt of having repressed my creativity for anything except this very project.
My emotions have been so close to the surface. The first two shows I did I felt this overwhelming storm of tears brewing within me, and sure enough sometime after the show ended, those tears came in force, no doubt aided by alcohol.
This time was different. Seemingly little things bring tears. A story from my actor telling me what she appreciated about the show. Questions from friends about how this affected me. And as always, self realizations about who I am or am not.
All of this has made it feel like I am walking through sand the last week. Not getting anywhere quickly, incredibly aware of how much energy it takes.
And this might not make sense, but the way I feel, the way I have been this past week has almost felt… earned. Like I deserved it. In some sick way, this exhaustion is almost exactly what I didn’t even know I wanted to feel.
One of my good friends who came to the show and I were talking last week about the important attributes artists need to have to be successful. I mentioned vision. We went back and forth a little bit about it but as I sit here now and write this, I realize how important it has been for me.
The ability to see where I want to go, to trust that I have the ability to take myself there, that I can will myself into something more than I was when I woke up this morning, that such a thing or place exists, to me that has become more important than ever before.
So I turn my eyes to the future, to unknown lands, and to the next mountain I look forward to sliding slowly down.