“Let’s Be Brave and Search Alone-Together”: Identity Scavenger Hunt Questions 1 – 4

You know how sometimes you meet someone and you’re just like “Yeah. Yeah you’re cool. I like you.” And then because of the Wonderful World of Facebook, you are able to connect and see more of that person and how their brain works and be like “Yeah. Yeah you’re incredibly AWESOME. Let’s be buddies because I think our brains are riding some of the same waves and I dig it. And you.”  Well, one such fantastic person I know, Tia, has started a tumblr (inspired by a production being put on by a local theatre company) encouraging folks to go on an Identity Scavenger Hunt.  And in her rallying cry of “let’s be brave and search alone-together” (which I love love love love) – I’m all in.  And I encourage you to play along as well!

Over the next 30 days or so, Tia will be posting a question or two a day from the famous Proust Questionnaire on the tumblr.  I’ll be doing my best to keep up and answer the questions here; my approach will be to not think too much about any one answer and to go from the gut.  You can answer the questions on the Identity Scavenger Hunt tumblr, on your own blog, in your journal, in your head, or feel free to e-mail answers directly to the lovely Tia at theatretia@gmail.com – she may want to use some of your answers in different ways in the future!

Obligatory picture of Proust on a madeleine ... though I admit I have never read Proust... but I have most definitely eaten a madeleine.  (photo credit: Parismarais)

Obligatory picture of Proust on a madeleine … though I admit I have never read Proust… but I have most definitely eaten a madeleine. (photo credit: Parismarais)

So without further ado…here are the first four questions and my not-too-thought-over answers:

1.  What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Feeling the gentle hum of life energy resting in the space slightly above “just OK” and slightly below “exuberant”…a joyful calmness of the soul;  clutching an oversized mug of coffee or tea in a slightly-too-cold living room while the cat is curled in my lap or on my feet on a quiet morning when the day is full of new or at the end of an evening when the day has been well-lived; when I am sharing breath and space with another and feel that click that means you are both fully present and your souls start tumbling out of your lips; an empty theatre – no expectations just the promise of endless possibility and ghosts of stories told before and hopeful wisps of those still waiting to be born.

2. What is your greatest fear?  

This has been the same for me from the time I was very young and saying it or writing it always makes me tear up or bawl like a baby (breath):  My greatest fear is that I will die and people that I love will be left wondering if I really loved them or not.  This idea is terrifying and shakes me down to my core. I know it can be overwhelming for some, but this is why I go hard on expressing how much I love people – I say “I love you” and say it often because I never want anyone to question it when I am no longer here to tell them.  (annnnnd tears…on cue… as always. sheesh.)

3. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I have NO clue…history was never a subject I paid close attention to and I’ve never been particularly moved to read biographies/autobiographies. Though maybe this is something I should explore.  I admire the heck out of Gandhi and believe strongly in his peace teachings. So maybe Gandhi? Mother Teresa is another. Though admiring is different than identifying.  This question raises more questions…

4. Which living person do you most admire?

Jane Goodall perhaps? Lately, I’ve been playing around a lot with the idea of doing “good” in the world and how if you feel ill-equipped to make a wave in the ocean, can you make a ripple in the pond that is just as “good”? I don’t know my path, I may always be a pond-or-lake-dweller so ripples may always be my jam – but I greatly admire the ocean-dwellers who make the waves.

Definition Part II: When “ish” gets slightly more personal and hippy-dippy

After writing the last post, I’ve been musing over “definition” in a much more personal and detailed way.  A ton of thoughts have been rocketing around my brain and something I’ve struck that I think is worth sharing (even though it means two posts in one day) is that no matter how you define yourself, I hope a piece of your personal definition includes some echo of “I am worthy.”

Part of the reason I think I am gravitating towards thoughts/discussion around the theme of definition is because in the last several years, my life had settled in a sense and I began defining myself in ways that meant I stopped thinking I was worthy of greater things and adopted definitions that negated important parts of my personhood.  This was easy to slip into because in some arenas of my life, I was directly being told or shown that I was not valued as worthy – and that started slowly and gently so by the time it was blatant and loud, I was accustomed to feeling unworthy and accepted it as truth.  In other areas, I wasn’t getting the validation or opportunities I craved in order to believe that I was worthy, supporting the “truth” I had learned elsewhere. So even though I continued defining others I loved as infinitely worthy – I lost that personally and slowly took myself out of the running for greater, better things. And it’s taken some time and work to come back to something that once sat in my bones so strongly and heavily that I didn’t question it or even need to say it:

I am worthy. I am worthy of the good I seek. I am worthy of the love I wish to give and receive. I am worthy as an entity unto myself just because I exist and breathe and dream and am.

You are worthy. And you don’t need others to show you or tell you or give you attention or opportunities that seem to validate your worth.

You are worthy. You are worthy of the good you seek. You are worthy of the love you wish to give and receive. You are worthy as an entity unto yourself just because you exist and breathe and dream and are.

So no matter what definitions you hold to your person, I hope there are vibrations of “worthiness” in there somewhere…whether hiding or in plain sight.

Definition

I like definitions. Of words. Of roles. Of boundaries. Definitions lend clarity. Definitions make me feel safe. Definitions give a sense of sure-ness to something; and even if that something is not-so-sure, labeling it as such makes it OK.

When it comes to people, there are so many things that define us as human beings, so many roles each of us play and so many things each of us do that make up the whole of the person each of us are. So I find it interesting the definitions that we cling to as being “it”; as being our personal definitions.  As in:  “I am (a) _______________.”  Mom, daughter, son, brother, father, sister, artist, CEO, tennis player, dog person, cat person, yogi, lifeguard, coach, teacher, lover, fighter, Irish, Italian, New Yorker, black, white, straight, gay, bi-sexual, asexual, liberal, conservative, scientist, Catholic, Methodist, atheist, ugly, pretty, tall, short, fat, skinny, athletic, writer, reader, painter, introvert, extrovert, Libra, Gemini, old, young, single, spouse, caregiver etc. And following up on that, even more interesting to me is the: “I am a _____________ and therefore it means that I do _____________. And I like ___________. And I dislike _______________.”

I was recently #SouloAdventuring and was wandering through a part of town I rarely visit.  After two hours of walking around and passing a particularly inviting tavern several times and feeling a pull to enter each time, I went in.  There were only 2 seats at the back of the bar and I was surprised to find a high school buddy who I hadn’t seen in 11 years sitting there.   We didn’t get to chatting much because he was there on business, but in my head, I was thinking of how much I’ve personally changed and grown since high school and how much he probably has, too.

In school years, I defined myself by numerous external factors that are probably not representative of who I am now.  You can track certain things I do – like theatre – back as far as pre-school, sure. And I am who I am in part because of lessons and compounding experiences over years of my life – very much including school.  But who I am at my essence has nothing to do with being in student government or in different clubs or homecoming queen or not making the basketball or field hockey teams or getting solid Cs (almost sometimes Ds) in math. However, at the time, I found those failures and achievements and roles to be absolutely defining.

In that same tavern, I ended up sitting between two older men – both who had lived in town for stretches of time a while back and both were feeling particularly chatty so we became pals for the night.  One was in his 60’s the other probably in his 70’s.

The 70’s something man told me about studying for the bar exam at this tavern and how he eventually owned a Porsche and would zip around in that car – according to him there is a stop sign on Rock Creek Parkway dedicated to his recklessness and police chases he zoomed out of.  He talked about money and success and DC-back-in-the-day and living in Georgetown.  These were the things he wanted me to know about him. He took out his phone later in our time together and the background had a dog on it. So – of course – I asked about the dog. Then he started telling me about all the different dogs he has owned; this one is a service animal and he takes it into the retirement homes to spend time with elderly people. His girlfriend is jealous of the attention he gives the dog because he loves it so much. A completely different side; a completely different definition than the Porsche-zooming, money-focused, power-man he presented earlier.

The 60 year old is from Colorado and has a young son who volunteers at the local animal shelter. He was glad to be in DC and comes back often on business. He said he enjoys this time of year – tourist season – because you get to see all the kids in DC on school trips; his son’s trip is coming up. He is a father. He asked me a bunch of questions about myself and when I told him I do theatre he said: “Believe it or not, I like theatre.”  “Can I ask you something?” I said “Why did you say ‘believe it or not’? I’m just curious what made you think I may not believe that you like theatre?”   And he went on to say how he has always been a jock and that people don’t think that jocks like theatre.  He said that back when he was in high school he was on the football team, but he still went to see the shows that his high school put on and that people were always surprised by that.  I asked him what his favorite show was and he listed off a ton of musicals that he’s seen on Broadway or in London or in Colorado.  He even told me about one time when he and his friend were on a ski trip but the lifts shut down because it was too windy; they found out that a local high school had a show going on, and because they couldn’t ski, they popped in on a whim to check it out and it ended up being a good show.  Clearly this man truly enjoys theatre but because he played football in high school, he still – at 60 – finds it weird to tell people “I like theatre.”  Even someone in a bar who has no awareness of his history.

Definitions are powerful. How we define ourselves matters because it does dig into our person and affects the way we handle ourselves in the world and even how we handle ourselves in private.  And – in life – of course there are events that change our lives forever; then there comes the question of whether or not we define ourselves by specific events or our actions in trying times.

I don’t really know how I am defining myself these days…I feel like it’s been changing so much lately.  Sometimes I am a theatre artist. Sometimes I am a communications employee. Sometimes I am a *good* friend. Sometimes I am a *bad* friend. Sometimes I am a productive member of society.  Sometimes I am an extreme procrastinator.  Sometimes I am lost … and sometimes I am just searching. Always I am a lover and a fighter and a believer and a journeyer and very, very human.

Or maybe the lesson here is that people really aren’t able to be defined.  Maybe the definition of a person is just “I am a person and therefore it means that I do things that my soul/personhood calls me to do.  And I like the things I like. And I dislike the things I dislike.”  Maybe it’s just that broad.

Darwinism is Dead: Or Why I Would Not Survive The Zombie Apocalypse

I’m going to go ahead and make a bold statement:

Darwinism is dead.

How do I know this?  Because I am still alive after almost 30 years. I am walking, talking, breathing proof that natural selection is a fading, historical relic in the modern, 1st World.

I do dumb things all the time to prove that natural selection is not really a factor in my sphere of operation; if it was, I should have been picked off long before now. Case in point, this recent situation (which I posted to Facebook):

No. Words.

No. Words.

Clearly this was a joke. But shortly after sharing, I noticed a friend’s call for people to submit themselves as characters in something he’s writing by describing the role they would play in a Zombie Apocalypse. And I was watching an episode of The Bachelor that involved a zombie themed paintball adventure. * So I thought about it for a second; reflected upon the evening’s events and a history of behaviors/choices that one could label as anything from ridiculous to unnecessarily dangerous; and one thought popped into my mind: I would be DEAD.

I mean – I’ve seen The Walking Dead. And – while it’s not the Zombie Apocalypse – I’ve read THE ROAD. I am confident that I would not survive beyond the first month. Possibly not past the first week if I hadn’t gone grocery shopping and if there were issues with the water in my apartment. Because HELL TO THE NAAAAWWW would I be walking out of The Apartments of Eternal Christmas to go in search of things at the bodega around the corner. I would be a hunker-and-wait-to-be-rescued type. Which would most like evolve into a hunker-and-wait-for-death type.  AND on the off-chance that a well-meaning survivor were to find me, what skills could I provide to a group?

  • Defense?  Nope. Weaponry terrifies me.
  • Hunting? Nope. Again, weaponry terrifies me. And I’m a vegetarian for reasons relating to the killing aspect of consuming meat.
  • Growing food, then?  Nope. I have a black thumb. While I’m anti-killing things, I kill cacti and succulents on the regular.
  • Practical survival skills? Nope. I have no knowledge of how to wire electricity, dig for wells, build a shelter, start broken-down cars, track things in the wild, sanitize water, or tie intricate knots.

Also – my body’s natural response to scary situations?  To pass out.  Normal confrontations of life, I’m cool with. I can get through those. But if I become overwhelmed by even the thought of being in an escalated confrontational situation – emotionally or physically – my body is like: “Hey cupcake! Imma make this real easy for you. We’re just going to stop working and we’re going to avoid this mess altogether! And if things get really bad, we won’t even know because we won’t be conscious! Are you near soft ground? Nope? OH WELL! HERE WE GO!!!”

No fight. No flight. Just lay down and play dead.

The few things I’d have going for me?  I take direction well; I am typically a quick learner; I work well with animals and children and have a driver’s license (#specialskills); and I am told that I tend to provide a positive element to a group dynamic. Plus I’ve seen The Walking Dead and have read THE ROAD. All suuuuuuuuuper useful in a Zombie Apocalypse.

Read as:  I would probably be the first to be eaten by the group when it got to that point or eventually be used as zombie bait.

Fabian, on the other hand, would be just fine, I’m sure.

And these, my friends, are some of the deep thoughts that occasionally plague my mind. You’re welcome. #fauxdulthood

* A long time ago, I was in an acting class with one of the contestants on this season and have watched the first two episodes. #thesearemyconfessions