I’ve been feeling the rewards of persistence lately — it’s a trait I think I embody well.  When I’m not coming from a clear place it manifests as stubbornness and control-freak tendencies, but lately I’ve been doing well at just sticking with what I believe in, holding on in rough waters, and just breathing when I don’t know what else to do.

And now I’m experiencing the beauty on the other side… the relief of experiencing what I believed was possible: the depth of connection with my husband, the utter joy of being a mama, the nourishment of social connections in town.

Tonight, I got to feel the reward of persistence in the context of my current theatrical pursuit: a community theater production of Godspell.  The process has been frustratingly slow and lonely.  Our rehearsals have been spaced so far apart that we forget what we’ve already blocked, and the cast is a group of people who all know everyone else but me… the outsider in all number of ways, it seems (socially, politically, spiritually, financially…)

We’ve been rehearsing twice a week since June, with multiple cast members absent each time for various vacations and other conflicts.  it’s felt scattered and incoherent — Godspell is such a nonsensical show anyways!  I think we’ve all been confused about the purpose of what we’re doing up till now… I’ve left rehearsals feeling lonely and unsure of how we’re going to pull it all together.  But with a show like this, there’s no choice but to keep going.  I made a commitment to the cast and the director when I joined the show, and I wouldn’t break it except in dire circumstances (I’ve only regretted not quitting a show once… a horrible production with a director who had no vision and tried to cover up that lack with sex humor).

Tonight at rehearsal, something clicked into place.  It was our first time ever having two rehearsals in a row, and our first week seeing each other more than twice.   We’re starting to know the songs and the dances well enough that we can really perform them, rather than be thinking about what comes next.  It lets us be in our bodies, fully in the physical experience of the moment — and being in the moment together is what deepens connections.  It was tangible, in our eye contact, in our joking with each other, in our comfort with physical contact (encouraging pats on the back, engaging more fully in partnered choreography…).  Maybe the change is just in me, and everyone else has been feeling this with other people all along, but I don’t think so.  It really feels like we’ve reached another level of group cohesiveness — what Edie Turner (a favorite professor in UVA’s Anthro Dept) would call communitas.  It’s that expansion of awareness beyond the self, to include awareness of the group as a whole.  It’s one of the key things I love about theater, this experience of collective intent and collective action, giving myself over to that.  I was worried we’d never get there with this show, and tonight I feel grateful for the familiar feeling filling my body and my heart.  This is what I live for…  and I’m reminded yet again that maybe the period of isolation and chaos and not knowing what comes next, maybe that is actually a necessary step in opening to a more fulfilling experience.  It seems a paraodx… and embracing paradox seems to be a major piece of being human.

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