Tag Archives: theatre

Decision Points

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That moment when…

Recently my friend and #firsteverworkhusband Martin and I were discussing our respective artistic disciplines, mine music and his acting/directing.  In the course of that conversation he began talking about how Hamlet has a couple of moments in the play when his course of action is set, or “decision points”.  I’ve been ruminating about this concept off and on since the initial conversation, and recently I messaged him again to elaborate on the idea from the actor/director perspective.

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I LOVE that!  “The get off your a$$” moment.  We went on to discuss how art imitates life and how sometimes the decision point is actually the result of a lengthy process of evolution.  As I am prone to do, I applied this to life in general, my life in particular.

In another conversation recently, I remarked that I feel like, in some ways, I’ve spent the last year or so in The Twilight Zone.  There has been, in my internal world, change, stress, upheaval, as well as love and great joy.  I have had decision points—moments of clarity that came after a process of evolution, in my feelings, thoughts and expectations.

Reaching that “get off your a$$ moment” can be painful.  But eventually, the decision has to be made.  Anything can prompt “that moment when…”

You get the answer to an important question…

or that question goes without a response.

After feeling ill for months, you finally get a diagnosis.

You realize a person, relationship, habit, job, whatEVER, is unhealthy for you and a change has to happen.

Or you discover love in the most unexpected of places.

The Decision Point is the result of a process.  However long the process takes, the moment of decision is just that—a MOMENT.  One that can alter the trajectory of the rest of your life.

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Hats

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The ones we wear, and the ones that wear us…

Every year shortly before Christmas, my chorus, The Knoxville Choral Society, collaborates with The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra for The Clayton Holiday Concerts, a Christmas tradition in our area for some 30 years and counting.  Concert week is hectic, with late night rehearsals and, for those of us with day jobs, work as usual and 4 shows over 3 days that weekend.  It’s a grueling, exhilarating and fun time of camaraderie for all of us.

Backstage at the venue a few years ago I took the time to pay closer attention to my surroundings than I had in the past.  Among the many quirky artifacts I noticed were numerous hats hung up on a wall.  I assume many of them are costume pieces from theatrical productions held there over the years, although some may be actual hats from firemen, soldiers, ball players and other professionals who wanted to leave their mark backstage.

Hats were invented to provide warmth, shelter and protection from the elements.  Over time they became fashion statements as well as parts of the unform for various professions.  Designs also vary from place to place and culture to culture, both for professional and decorative headwear.

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In the Stone Age when I was setting up my social media profile, I gave a thumbnail sketch of my life and the roles I play…the hats I wear.

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No one among us is just one thing, after all.  We all wear many different hats, filling roles as life circumstances call us to do.  Switching from one hat to the next sometimes feels frantic, as we shift among our various roles and responsibilities.  We juggle so many activities and demands from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour.  Some of the hats we wear weigh heavily on our heads, our hearts, as we face hard choices, regarding our health or the health of a loved one.  Sometimes a hat may feel too tight, if we are in a job or a relationship that doesn’t fit us.  Sometimes the hat just doesn’t flatter us or bring out the most attractive qualities in us.  Sometimes it even feels as though, rather than us wearing the hat, the hat wears us.  You get the idea.

We hope to craft for ourselves a life that works, with hats that fit, flatter and feel good.  I hope the hats you wear today sit lightly and comfortably upon you, bringing out your best and giving you warmth, protection and shelter from life’s storms.  (And it doesn’t hurt if they’re cute, too!)

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The Things We Leave Behind

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Reflections as 2013  comes to a close…

I’ve been at a loss about writing this post because I don’t want Patchwork And Potpourri to be sad, and right now there is a lot of sadness in my world.  Several friends have lost family members.  In other parts of my world, relationships are strained, stressed and broken.  People sometimes can’t get along, or maybe even stand the sight of one another.  Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s don’t magically make these issues disappear…in fact, in some cases, the holidays just make these situations more painful.

Lots of holiday movies paint a picture of perfect people living perfect lives, snuggled next to roaring fires in snow-covered cottages with steaming mugs of cocoa.  There are blissful children around a Christmas tree laden with gifts.  It’s all very  Norman Rockwell.  My favorite holiday movie depicts quite a different scenario, one in which the protagonist thinks the world would be better off if he had never been born.

I had the chance recently to read Philip Van Doren Stern’s novella “The Greatest Gift”, the story upon which the classic Frank Capra movie,  “It’s A Wonderful Life” is based.  While the movie fills in a lot of elements not in the original story, the essence remains the same.  One person’s life makes a difference.  We all leave something behind.

In a series of concerts I sang in the weekend before Christmas, I spent some time looking more closely at my surroundings in the venue than I ever have before.  I wrote a bit about this and shared some musical instrument photos in my most recent post here.  Particularly fascinating to me were the many pieces of memorabilia backstage.

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Items ranging from poignant to ridiculous adorn almost every corner, ledge and inch of wall space.

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I don’t know why I’ve never paid any attention to all of the “stuff” backstage before, but this year I noticed it as though for the first time.  Among the various visual stimuli are decades worth of graffiti scrawled on the cinderblock walls.  I can’t help wondering about the people who have marked on the walls, left hats and boxing gloves and other items there.  And yes, I succumbed to the urge to leave my own mark behind.

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Isn’t that what we all want, after all?  To leave our mark on the world, some evidence that we were here.  A single friend was talking recently about how the holidays make his uncoupled status seem sadder than at other times, and that he just wants to feel like he matters, that he is cared for.  I responded that the search for significance is universal, whether we are coupled or single, gay or straight, old or young or someplace in the middle.

We ALL want to know that we matter.  We want to know that, once we are gone from this world, someone, maybe numerous someones, will miss us and remember us with love.  We want to know that we left something meaningful behind.

As 2013 comes to a close, my prayer is that I have been building something meaningful to leave behind me, that my world is maybe a  little better for my having been here.  I have no human children, so my legacy will not take that form, but I will still have a legacy. We all do.

If someone remembers that I made them laugh, or held them when they cried…if I blessed someone with a song or offered encouragement when it was needed…if I lightened a load or kept someone company…then I’ve left something meaningful behind.  I hope to continue building a legacy of memories, laughter and music for the people I encounter along the way.

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