It wasn’t until I was all alone in the dressing room that I started to cry.
What can I say? I’m a weeper, and I knew there was no way that I was going to make it through the end of The Crucible without one of my trademark emotional moments. Most of the emotion was relief: that our gamble of six performances had paid off, that we had put together an artistic product that was powerful and meaningful, that I had learned all of the notes.
How fortunate I am to live my dreams. Making art with people I love is a dream for me (as Willie Nelson said, “the life I love is making music with my friends” – truer words were never sung). Most of my dreams are things I don’t recognize until they have come true. When I started at grad school I wasn’t thinking to myself “I hope I make a life-long friend at orientation. I hope she starts a small opera collaborative and I get roped into it despite initial skepticism. Then I hope that I am asked to be president of that group, work tirelessly with other musicians to keep it running, develop my skills as I learn a few roles, and transition into PR. Finally, I hope that 4 years from now I am standing on the altar in a huge Boston church wearing whiteface and faking demonic possession.”
But all those things happened and it has become a dream for me, even when it has been a nightmare. And although as I look forward in my life there are things I would like to see, I don’t dare hang my hat on those plans because what comes my way tends to be more life-giving than anything I can imagine on my own. What has served me well so far is to get up every morning excited to face the day, and to say yes to as much as I can.
My dream and hope is in that ‘yes’ – to learning a new instrument, to joining a new group, to taking on a new project, to coffee with a new friend. “Yes” is my agreement every day to live in communion with and service to other people. “Yes” is my affirmation that all things can be new, that I can change as the tides do rather than splashing futiley against them. “Yes” is when I throw my lot in with everyone else: yes I will help you. Yes I will join you. Yes I will contribute.
There are times when the only way to affirm our own needs is to say no – or what looks like no on the surface. Likewise there are times that my will does what my heart would not, and “no” issues from my lips in response to a question or action that has at its root a question like “can you help me? Do you care for me? Are you in solidarity with me?” Those moments shame me.
Can you learn this role in a week? Can you send a resume over for this position? Can you plan a prayer service for us? Do you want to join a new opera collaborative? These are the questions that I hear, to which I answer yes. Maybe these questions are a disguise for the bigger questions. Are you alive? Can you change? Are you ready to put your money where your mouth is? Yes.