It Feels Like a Thursday Afternoon
It has been over two months since I got off the train in Durham, England, and the questions I am being asked, and ask myself, have a theme.
- Have you enjoyed your time.
- Are you glad you came.
- What have you learned.
Three simple questions with complicated answers.
When I am not on the road performing and Monday morning comes, I am usually energized and happy. The week stretches out before me, full of possibilities and potential. For the self-employed, the task of creating an organized schedule wherein the work necessary to keep a business going is an ongoing challenge. I am not naturally organized and even 42 years living with Sue has only improved my skills to acceptable levels. So I start the week with great optimism, optimism that has waned by the time I hit Thursday afternoon. It is Thursday afternoon when I wonder what I have accomplished. Too much of the time Thursday afternoons feel as if I’ve not used the time well, that I realize I could have written a one act play or contacted 20 potential bookings, or worked out more judiciously, or, or, or… Followed by a period of self-flagellation, usually without the barbed whips. What I have done most certainly is talk to people over coffee, beers, breakfasts, writing groups, on the phone, over Skype and Zoom. Conversations often about life, faith, comedy, art and baseball. What else is there?
So my answer to those questions in paragraph one is; it feels a bit like Thursday afternoon here. I look over at the desk piled with literally 9 books I have started but haven’t finished, the list of people not contacted, journals full of notes, not catalogued in a coherent manner. …and I have similar pangs.
But that is one part of the story.
So what have I done?
Talked to people.
A lot of people: Conversations with theater directors, canons, The Anglican Bishop of Jamaica, ordinands preparing for priesthood in the Church of England, PhD students writing dissertations on Spanish satire, prominent lawyers, songwriters, a scientist who works on the Hubble telescope team, Irish poets, vicars, curates, a baroness from the House of Lords, playwrights, actors, musicians, activists, theologians, art professors.
Folks from high church.
And no church.
The two shows I performed were very warmly received, I am in conversation with a hosting theater to perhaps bring a show back and do an extended tour.
I’ve met folks who will be friends for life.
I’ve had deep and wide ranging conversations about art, faith and comedy.
I’ve been to the musical theater, small art house theater, a concert in a deli, the ballet, evening prayer, evensong, morning prayer.
I’ve slept a lot.
I’ve listened to Handel’s Messiah in a 1000-year old cathedral.
I’ve picked sloe berries to make sloe gin.
I had no idea there was such thing was a sloe berry.
I’ve gained weight.
I’ve laughed until I couldn’t breathe.
I have been touched by people’s stories and hopefully touched others.
I have spent time lonely.
I have spent a great deal of time on self-reflection, asking why an actor skilled in being present onstage has trouble being so off-stage. Why is my mind so bent on heading into the “what next?” Add a bit of Richard Rohr, a bit of Celtic spirituality, Meyer-Briggs and Enneagram; A smattering of Chinese philosophy … I had no idea I was a “yang-bomb” born in the year of the fire monkey. That just might explain it all.
So this unpaid sabbatical was a time to explore what is next for me and Ted and Company.
Are there new audiences over here in the UK? Perhaps.
Is there a new model for the company to mentor and give opportunity to young writers and actors. Probably.
Has it made a difference in my life.
And, that is the big question.
Ted, accent unchanged.