I’m not the perfect parent. I once dropped my son off at school in his Mario costume on Halloween parade day. He was so excited; he loved Mario. Except, it was a week early for the parade and because I was late for work he was the lone cartoon character at school that day. Mistakes were made while I hyperventilated my way through working and raising kids; late arrivals, scheduling snafus, half-assed work and home tasks, and confusion hijacking my otherwise order-seeking personality. Wonderland Playhouse is the only job I’ve had that ignited my passion. Mostly, I have worked as an assistant to men of varying degrees of power. I wrote and spoke with their voice. I even gave up pursuing my passion after work as it left little time for family.
I dreamed about college since I can remember, but attempts made fell short and circumstances got in the way. I graduated early from high school the year my parents divorced and neither could help me apply. Accepted to UCLA when my daughter was four, I couldn’t agree to the sacrifices moving to Westwood would mean for her. Twelve years later I was delighted to attend Long Beach State where I kicked ass in its demanding theater program that kept me on campus from nine o’clock in the morning until after the final curtain fell on most nights. At the end of the semester and with a need to care for my kids I reluctantly returned to work.
Improv: How do you get out of a rut?
In a dialogic response to the statement that one’s heart is filled with pain and suffering, the poet Rumi writes, Stay with it. The wound is where the Light enters you. My wound was this deep, unfulfilled desire that no amount of busyness, meditation, or yoga could heal. It stayed with me, scrambling up with my unworthiness and insufficiency, ensuring I would work a series of good jobs I am grateful for that brought no professional satisfaction, surfacing from time to time to remind me I didn’t know why I felt bad about it, and guaranteeing my inability to heal it would be a personal failure.
Earlier this year my daughter graduated with a master’s degree and my wound split wide open. I found it hard to breathe. Friends didn’t understand my suffering and I couldn’t explain it. The list of reasons to let it go was long, but that didn’t change how I felt. Tortured and exhausted, asking for help and willing to do anything, I was guided to apply to a small liberal arts college near my home. At once terrified I would certainly endure another failure, and unable to remain wounded any longer, I hoped my action would end this one way or another.
On an early June evening, surrounded by cakes at a dessert auction I coordinated, drunk on the smell of sugar, I received the email. The college’s letter said they were impressed by my commitment to my family and my community, stated I was precisely the person they were looking for, and offered me a near-full ride scholarship to complete my degree. I came full stop.
Some wounds are a paradox. They don’t go away because they’re not supposed to. Light illuminates one’s suffering while simultaneously spotlighting the path to healing. Improv can help. Stay with it– collaborate with it. Say, Yes! And . . .. Don’t ever give up.