As the curtain comes down on my second Act, I take a brief intermission today before it rises on Act 3 tomorrow. I seem to live my life in increments of 30 years. I am not one to run to the fortunetellers on a regular basis, but I have gone at least once every near 30 years. I don’t go more often because I take to heart what they have to say. If they told me something bad, I would crawl up in a ball and never move again. If they told me something great every time, I may be tempted to skip into oncoming traffic with my eyes closed. But since one of their predictions hasn’t waivered in 30 odd years, I’ll go with it until proven otherwise. If three gypsy queens and an Ethiopian Sacramento cab driver are correct, then this third act of mine shall be the approximate length of the other two. That makes me happy actually and today I wonder what I will do with it. One thing for certain is that I no longer will do what I should. I much rather do what I would.
The change I made in my life 30 years ago at the end of Act 1 was very drastic. An Italian Bronx girl very rarely moves 3000 miles away without knowing a soul, let alone having any family members around. It was a time of true shedding of so many relationships. I had been divorced for about a year and the move removed any further personal engagements with him. I left scads of family and friends and coworkers. Some still remain today. Some are gone for good. Change will do that. We never know what will fall to our new ground, when we throw our lives into the air like so many pieces of a letter torn by a scorned lover.
It is a bit like that today for me. Another marriage has ended, soon officially, but unlike the time before there are relationships that can never end. My children of course. And what a time in one’s life to be the parent of a teenager! In talking with a friend the other day, I made mention of how fortunate he was to be spending time with a married 30 something daughter while I continue the duels at dawn in Teen Age Wasteland. He laughed and said that it is s a good thing couples wanting children are not made to babysit a teenager first. It would be a very lonely planet indeed. I love my two sons, that’s for sure and I think I will admire the adults they turn out to be. Of course that admiration will be so much more felt if I can admire them in their own apartments one day.
The morning of the final day of ACT 2 was spent not in combat with the teen but rather in customer service hell. Posit this, a simple question like what size memory card does one need to film about four hours of video in a particular mode for my new Nikon camera took hours to resolve. One would think a call to Nikon would elicit an answer. No, instead I got to spend time with a lovely customer service lady explaining exactly how they could improve their owner’s manual. She sent me to the nice people at SanDisk who actually make the memory cards and were about as confused as the Nikon people. A few times placed on hold, while I am sure she went to ask Mr. SanDisk himself and I got the answer finally. The irony however was that it takes an Algebra problem to figure it out and as I like to have said up until today: I never took Algebra and haven’t missed it for damn near 60 years. Well time’s up on that one. In my search I then came across a lovely book by the name of Nikon for Dummies. Apparently there is an entire book that you have to buy to get any real information on how to operate the camera because the manuals are written by complete morons sitting in a room who I am sure were born operating the cameras. I just don’t get it. Why not make the ‘xxx” for Dummies books the actual operating manuals that come with the various products. Wouldn’t that be extremely helpful to everyone? But I got my answer. I hope. We shall see on Tuesday when we take it for a test drive for an amazing new project my partner and I have been lucky enough to get. We are videotaping the life stories of a wonderful 93 year old man and his 90 year old wife for their posterity. How fortunate to be doing this as I reflect on the past present and future stories of my own life. The mother of all digressions here.
What will Act 3 look like for me? Will my writing finally become first and foremost in my life and will I pursue it in earnest this time? Will I stop allowing the fear of both success and failure to prevent me from following my writerly heart this time? Perhaps a bit of progress has been made since 30 years ago as I would never have showed anyone the little bit of writing I did back then. I wish that I could tell my 30 year old self to do it, just go for it. Don’t be afraid. But that is not in my cards and I don’t think it should have been. We embark on the journey of our expression and our art not when we decide it but when that art is ready to be shared. Some have the pleasure and the pain I imagine to share it early in life. For some, like my favorite musical play author, Victor Hugo of Les Miserables fame, it takes a near lifetime to share his masterpiece. Yes, I secretly aspire to be a modern day author on Mr. Hugo’s timeline not talent, as Les Mis was published when he was 60 years old. Well since I just wrote it, it is not so secret anymore is it? My goal is four books and a blog.
Some artists attain just enough of the sharing of their artistic soul as needed throughout their lives. This is not measured by the number of bodies for whom their artistic bell tolls. It can toll only for a select few. The secret I think is the artistic satisfaction that comes with knowing your painting or poetry or music or writing has touched someone. If one’s work can make someone laugh or cry or feel joy or even sadness then that is reward in and of itself. One’s artistic expression, in all its foibles and glory, is meant to be shared. I don’t think I understood this fully until I actually tried it with the posting of my very first Internet writing piece. It was an astounding feeling to have someone like something I wrote. Even when at first it was only a few people I knew. More extraordinary was the first time a perfect stranger told me they liked a piece. Now that was heady stuff. It felt a bit creepy at the same time, though, like someone peeping through your window. I suppose it is that in a way as they are peeking into your artistic soul.
All I can do now is try to become the best writer I can in the limited way that my art will express itself at this time in my life. I can do no more or no less now. I love the story. I love when I chase it and I love when it chases me. Telling you about it will become the focus, the fun and the passion of my Act 3.