Monthly Archives: January 2015

On Hoarders & Pack Rats or A Tale Of Decluttering My Life

 

Clutter“Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies
OPPORTUNITY.”
Albert Einstein

I’m looking around my sitting room and the realization hits me — I’m a hoarder.  It is not a pleasant realization.  I have a couple of bookcases filled with unread books, stacks of unopened blu-rays waiting to be viewed, and three closets full of clothes, not to mention numerable boxes that remain unpacked from my move three years ago.

What’s ironic about this is in my art and writing I practice minimalism.  I truly believe less is more.  Minimalism has inspired me and taught me so much since I first discovered it. It has helped me to re-evaluate my approach to art, my theater productions, my writings and even my spiritual life.  All are better for this approach.  I think now it’s time to approach and live my life in this same manner — to live a simpler life on a much smaller scale.

“Brevity is the essence of style.”
Bill Nolte

To be honest, I’m resisting this notion. I worry giving up my stuff will make me seem less important; what will I have to show for my  work. Who will take me seriously without a job and a house full of things. I know these feelings keep one trapped.

What will I gain from this I wonder.  Hmmm …

Peace of mind —  The idea of letting my “things” go seems horrible at first, but I know I expel way too much energy worrying about my stuff.  Letting this stuff go will set me free.

Freedom from impulsive / compulsive shopping —  Amazon loves me.  THE COMPLETE FILMS OF ABBOTT AND COSTELLO today only $49.99.  OMG — I can’t pass that deal up.  It’s too good to be true.  I have 352 saved items in my Amazon shopping cart. On-line shopping was designed with people like me in mind.  I have started developing walk away power which is a good thing.  It is much harder than it sounds.  But I’m getting good at it.  Whenever I feel the urge to buy something i don’t need.  I think of that copy of Robert Goulet’s Christmas Classics that still is in it’s original wrapping.

Lifetime experiences — I often wonder why that trip to Paris never happened?  And how come I never made it to New Orleans?  Then, I realize those trips were traded for the 195 Criterion DVDs I own.  I know.  I want so many more outside the box experiences in my life, but I have limited myself.  So, as I sell off my possessions that money will go into a new savings account to earmarked for a long over due trip across the pond.

Health and happiness —  I suspect I will actually be healthier and happier with less stuff. Probably because I will sleep in a more harmonious home, work less, and feel less stress about letting go.

“The more I examine the issue of clutter,
the more effort I put into combating it,
because it really does act as a weight.”
Gretchen Rubin

What is responsibility — If I let my things go I won’t be responsible. Yes, this thought has run thru my mind and it still does.  But I realized that I have a really skewed view of what responsibility is. Owning things makes you responsible.

What I’m learning is that responsibility looks different for everyone, and that part of being responsible is knowing how to care for your spiritual and emotional self. What if part of being “responsible,” in other words, is listening to your spirit when it tells you, each morning as you drive to work, or as you look at the clutter in your house, that it is suffocating me?

Better relationships I can’t help but think with less distractions my relationships will be better.  With less anxiety, more freedom and greater discipline my relationships should improve I think. My friendships should be richer and more satisfying. I would fight with myself less. Getting rid of things really has helped to let some toxic friendships go — those friendships that steal all of my energy. I understand what matters now.

There are three approaches I can take toward my possessions: face them now, face them sometime, or avoid them until … It is better to face them now. I’ve acknowledged my attachment to the past by honestly looking at my stuff.  By doing so, I’ve seen what is really important to me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to put my house in order.

On A Dance Of Clowns or A Tale Of Staging The Dream

Puck 1

“What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering here,
So near the cradle of the fairy queen?”
Puck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
William Shakespeare

I’ve been consumed by Shakespeare of late – reading the plays, watching productions, listening to classical composer’s interpretations, reading critical writings (Jan Kott you are sorely missed).  I eat breathe and live Shakespeare.  The Bard oozes from my pores.  All this is in preparation for my upcoming production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

I feel like it was in another lifetime that I worked on a piece of classical theater.  That’s not a bad thing for a couple of reasons.  In the interim, the theatrical art I was creating was based on modern and contemporary pieces and I learned so much.  Also, I feel that I understand Shakespeare so much better now than I did in that other lifetime.  I have lived thru many of the themes expressed in Shakespeare’s writing.  Kott was right – Shakespeare is our contemporary.  Is it any wonder then why Neil Gaiman centered an entire ark of “The Sandman” around “The Dream”?

When Samuel Pepys went to see “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 1662 he was not impressed. “We saw ‘Midsummer’s Night’s Dream,’ which I had never seen before nor shall ever again, for it is the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life”.  Luckily, theater goers ignored Pepys.  Pepys is largely forgotten today while “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is still widely performed.

 Puck 2You are always insane when you are in love.
Sigmund Freud

Random thoughts on “The Dream” …

I have discovered so much about Shakespeare and I see “The Dream” in a whole new light. This is a joyous play; it is full of magic and illusion. It is a celebration! It’s a celebration of the arts, of performance, of love. There are no restrictions here. “The Dream” celebrates theater and so it should be theatrical. In my vision gone are the fairy wings and tutus; banished are the pretentious and declamatory styles of acting — sorry Maurice Evans. In other words, gone are the 19th century snobbish trappings and attitudes.

Why are we still so charmed by this play 419 years after it was first performed? I’ll tell you why; it’s the longest day of the year, a time when our ancestors believed the supernatural came particularly close to the human. It is here that Shakespeare sets his play, on Midsummer night where, the world as we know it gets turned upside down? And where does he set it — in a secretive and mysterious place, full of unexplained sounds and shadows. In a forest, of course!

“The Dream” is a beautifully constructed play containing some of Shakespeare’s most memorable poetry. There’s no direct source for the play but Shakespeare drew heavily on the stories and legends which he would have heard as a child and which many country people still believed in. He also created compelling characters and a story in which a fairy queen falls in love with an ass, a recipe for confusion and slapstick humor. The “Dream” can be set in virtually any time or place, and or in my case, no time. This is interesting because of the artistic freedom this allows the production.

Puck 3“What fools these mortals be.
Puck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
William Shakespeare

More thoughts …
Puck … The Heart and Soul of The Dream …

Puck represents awareness, action and creation. He embodies the possibility of making an idea come true. Puck is the emotional and creative power of the soul; he realizes we must have a physical outlet to be of real use. Powers unused are powers non-existent, we have to set them free in order to make the most of them, and to gain and renew. Puck is the master alchemist.

Puck is aware of the power in life; he can be a symbol for all the creative skills and ideas inside. Most people don’t really act; they just react, being driven from one situation to the next. Puck shows us that power is ready to use as soon as it is recognized.

Puck’s function in the play is crucial; all the plots develop around him. Puck represents the difficulties of love, the power of magic, the nature of dreams and the relationships between fantasy and reality.

Puck is essential to the plot. Without his mistakes, the plot is lost and senseless. Without his mischief, the play would not be a comedy. It is Puck who ties and unties, deforms and creates. Although he has created all chaos, at the end he makes amends by restoring all among the players.

By setting in motion the events of chaos, Puck also ensures that the audience will have a good time. In this way, Puck is also a kind of “lord of misrule” figure; he’s appointed to reign over carnival festivities, which included drinking, eating, and raucous theatrical productions. It’s fitting, then, that Puck should close the play by delivering the Epilogue. He is also the only character with the credibility to tell the audience that he knows the play is like a “dream,” and he promises that, if we didn’t like the play, he’ll soon make it up to us with another.

So as I plunge even more deeply into the words of The Bard and into “The Dream” let us dance on tables and create art …

 Puck 4

On Out With The Old & In With the New or A Tale Of Embracing 2015

Blog 1

An old year ends, and takes with it people and sorrows and joys and memories, and a new one is on its way.

Neil Gaiman

Can I lose 60 pounds in nine minutes? This thought runs through my mind at the close of 2014.

It’s been awhile.  I know.  I’ve heard from several of you over the intervening months, “When are you going to write again?”  “What’s taking so long?”  Honestly, I’ve been busy.  “Doing what you ask?”  Well, I was dancing on tables and creating art — hard fought art — among other things.

2014 was a year of great change for me. I went back to work, my brother passed away, I directed a great production, my favorite Great Aunt passed way and I met some awesome people. But if I’m being honest here I have to admit I will be glad to see 2014 pass.

I realize new beginnings can happen any day at any time. A new beginning always involves leaving one thing behind and embracing something new and different. However, sometimes, new beginnings may not be of our own choosing or liking. New beginnings often are exciting, yet terrifying — no one knows what the future holds. Unlimited possibilities lie behind the door to your new beginning: successes and failures, ups and downs, and even some smiles and frowns.

Since I do not know what’s behind the next door or written in the next chapter of my life, I know it’s important to utilize tools at these pinnacle times in my life. These tools give me the strength and courage to aid me in adjusting to a new chapter in my life.

What’s in my tool box? Well … a positive attitude, and yes, sometimes I have to fake it, openness to new people and new experiences and an open mind, vulnerability so I can see into the shadowy parts of myself and grow in new ways, persistence because sometimes it just takes time and my wonderful support system of friends. But, the most important tools in my arsenal are magic, dreams and madness. In other words, you have to think outside the toolbox sometimes.

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year you surprise yourself.”                                                                                                                                                                    Neil Gaiman

 I have great hopes for 2015. Yes, I feel the winds of change are blowin’ by. I don’t much have more to say on welcoming in 2015 other than this last bit of advice that was passed onto me: I hope that in this year you make mistakes. Yes, that’s my wish for you and for me to make new mistakes, wonderful, glorious, amazing mistakes.   Oh, and whatever it is you’re afraid of doing, do it.