A Need to Suffer, Day 15
Sweaty, gross, alone, and cold… Never anyone’s preferred way to travel. Thus I journeyed to New Brunswick, New Jersey to see my dear and talented friend David Salsbery Fry sing Olin Blitch, a rather evil version of an evangelist in the opera Susannah by Carlisle Floyd. Congratulations, David, on an amazing performance. He made a very creepy character seem almost sympathetic to me for the first time , and he sang with a depth and beauty even more profound than I’d heard from him previously. I had no doubt his voice would warrant any trip, regardless of threatened blizzard or discomfort. Since a fantastic and lengthy conversation with my sweet friends Aja and Megan left me pressed for time after yoga, my tired body and I were even more grateful for such a worthwhile performance in my uncomfortable yoga clothes, never having showered or returned home for rest, after borrowing money for the from my girlfriends and taking the train to New Brunswick.
Initially, I had dressed this morning in my yoga-friendly and winter daytrip-unfriendly sweatpants, thin t-shirt (the cheaper, Target brand of those shirts designed to dry quickly when one sweats), sneakers and short jacket and headed downtown to a very popular, very hot (not by design), and very perspiration-inspiring Yoga to the People class. Although I missed the non-slip yoga mats, towels, citrus-water and world-class instruction at the Reebok Sports Club, I happily continued my new yoga habit to the sounds of loud, deep, and mostly young breaths at this pay-what-you-can St. Mark’s Place location. Thus far, I love most the feeling of release at the end of a strenuous session, the sound of the gong, and the weight of my tired body against the mat when I’ve stretched and pushed myself enough to need the welcome rest.
At the end of today’s class, my instructor read an excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet about the balance and relationship between joy and sorrow. One may find the entire excerpt here, but this thought returned to me throughout my day: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” First on the surface and then in more profound ways, I began to think of ways my more trying or less desirable moments led to a greater appreciation of the opposite experience.
Because I exerted myself to a certain limit at yoga and throughout the day, I truly appreciate rest…
After yoga, a long day, many train rides, and a long walk to the theater, I so loved that unexpected ride home…
Practically shivering in my misguided outfit all evening, I embraced my hot shower for a very long time…
When I decided to walk in the cold dark night for thirty minutes through New Brunswick from the train to the theater, hoping my best guess on google maps wouldn’t lead me astray, I also happened to passed by the old house of an ex-boyfriend and friend. Memories flooded back, including a memory of trying new things and laughing so hard that my jaw hurt, until I laughed that my jaw hurt and then cried. Until that moment, which came very shortly after and before times of great suffering in my life, I hadn’t known I could experience that depth of joy. Having suffered and yet being open to new experiences allowed me to experience laughter expanded and multiplied.
Going to Susannah tonight also reminded me of the other side of the same coin, as increasing suffering alone permeates the opera after the first thirty minutes or so. Interestingly, for the first time I can recall, I didn’t particularly see intense suffering with disdain. Strangely, watching the performers onstage only made me miss having a more extreme emotional experience in my current life. Yes, I know, I’m an opera singer. Nobody’s surprised that I like drama.
Seriously, I have had a calm and balanced life in comparison since I moved out of my old apartment in May into a place of my own and have more of a center in my life. Somehow, spending time with more sensible and composed people lately has me actually missing the drama and intensity. Don’t worry, Mom, I don’t intend to run out and seek thrills (not anymore than I already do anyway). I love having a stable life for a change and feeling purposeful and content. I suppose only one answer will satisfy my needs. As the t-shirt reads, “keep the drama on the stage.” Time to find some acting roles into which I can sink my teeth; time to suffer through lots of auditions until I get the gigs that keep me fed, emotionally and hopefully financially too. I can’t wait.