You will be astonished to learn that in the two years since I left the job at GHP, I have at times been feeling adrift. No, really, it’s true.
Some of that stems from learning to deal with the fact that the job I thought I would retire from—and yes, I wanted a party—just vanished without warning. Life goes on and all that.
But there’s more to it than that, and a recent meditation along with my adventure at the Springer Opera House (State Theatre of Georgia) led me to a new understanding of why I sometimes have felt a bit on the lost side. Simply put, my life used to be governed by cycles, and now it’s as open-ended as you can get.
Before, I positioned my “self” according to where I was in the various cycles around me: the school year, NCTC’s season, shows within that season, the church calendar when I was a choir director, and most recently, the GHP nomination/interview/program cycle.
One thing ended, the next began, or began again. That’s what my entire professional life has been like, after all: school, theatre, GHP. That’s 40 years of knowing where I was going to be and what I was going to be doing a year (or more) in advance.
Now? I have no “profession,” no job, and that’s fine. My self-worth is certainly not contingent on where I’m working. But it also means that I don’t know where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing in the future. This is not a complaint, it’s just a statement of facts new to me.
This was driven home one night in Columbus when I was having a drink with Mike Accardo, the Equity actor from Chicago who was so brilliant as Harry Brock, and he commented about jobs coming up and possible jobs after that. He was always looking for the next job, he said; that’s what it meant to be a professional actor.
I allowed as how that was a major reason I never pursued acting as a career; I don’t have what it takes to always be on the hunt—or starve.
And yet that’s exactly where I am now, although without the nerve-wracking pressure of starving if I don’t get out there and hunt. For me, it’s been an existential matter. (Crisis is way too strong a term for my situation.) Before, I cocooned in the eternal circles of my life. Now, it’s a straight path and I am more responsible than not to know where I’m going and where I want to end up.
This situation is probably one reason I’ve started getting more involved in the Burner community here in Georgia: it gives me one cycle that I can depend on and help bring to fruition. I know where I’ll be the first weekend in October and the first weekend in May—and if I go completely nuts, the week before Labor Day, the second week in June, the third week of July, etc., etc.
Anyway, this was not meant to be a cri de coeur. Once it dawned on me the nature of the source of some of my (minor) anxiety, I adapted almost immediately by letting go that habitual expectation of some cycle or other coming to my rescue. It’s all on me now, and that’s a good thing to know.