Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Done Directing

"Cut!" I demand in frustration. "No, no, no! How could you miss your line!?"

I'm the director of my life story. I select the characters, write the script and develop the plot. I know exactly who should enter the scene at a particular time and what they should do and say. It is perfect. Sure to be a box office sell out.

With this in mind, I often get frustrated when my characters miss their cues... when someone adds a twist to my story... when life doesn't listen to my directions. I'm the director, right? I know best, right? Maybe not.

I can't help it that I'm a dreamer and a writer (a dangerous combination I might add). I read a lot, write quite often and dream constantly. This lifestyle sets me up for frustration after frustration if I'm not careful. I know what a perfect conversation looks like. I thrive on finding the perfect words. Timing of events is crucial. Characters and settings, opportunities and drama... I know exactly how they should unfold. I want to write it out and simply watch it play out. Flawlessly.

Sometimes it feels like I'm the only one following the script. I know my lines as well as the lines of everybody else. Why can't the other actors take the time to learn their lines? I say my line and wait eagerly for the clever response that I have written... and to my disappointment... it never comes. The cue was there, the timing perfect, the line was missed. As the director I can't believe how this can happen over and over. With this kind of performance, I might as well call off the show. The plot is confusing, the characters boring, and the timing completely off.

It is then that I realize that it is not just my show. What is obvious and scripted to me may be missing from the script of another. We all have our own scripts, our own dreams, our own expectations. The trick is to take our differing stories and combine them into one big, elaborate, confusing and constantly changing show. I need to step down from my job as director and live within the collective story, as an actress in a greater story.

Directing is a huge responsibility with too much stress for one person to handle. So, I'm throwing out my script with my perfect dialogues, romantic twists and exhilarating opportunities. I'm going to live a little impromptu. I just may find that the unexpected reality is more vibrant than my dreams, more humorous than my writings and more perfect than my hopes.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Um... I'm not quite sure...

"Elizabeth!" They screech, "It's SO good to see you! Let me look at you!"

Oh yes... there is something about going home for the weekend. I think the healthiest way to deal with the guaranteed interrogation is to simply expect it. When you go away to college or spend time away for anther reason, upon returning "home" chances are you will become quite the attraction. Everyone will want to look you over, give you a hug and drill you with the same questions. Just be ready for it.

Everyone seems to want to know how you are managing life away from your small town or close knit community. Have you put on the freshman fifteen? Did you get any new piercings, tattoos or a crazy hair cut? Are you walking in with a guy on your arm? Do you appear confident, happy, healthy, and successful or drained, flustered, messy and depressed? Some of these things can be determined by the dreaded once over... you can tell that your English teacher disapproves of your nose ring without her saying a single word.

Yet... some people dig deeper. They begin the horribly predictable sequence of questions. "What year are you now?" "And you're studying...." "What will you do with that, dear?" "So you'll need to attend grad school?" "Where will you go for that?" "When do start your application process?" "How nice." "So, are you dating anyone these days?" "No? Just thought I'd ask. Maybe next year, honey." The questions go on and on.

If you have answers, it isn't so bad. The question comes and boom you knock it down with your well rehearsed and impressive answer. Take that! But... when things in life aren't quite so obvious... and such is life... it can be kinda awkward and uncomfortable. "What are you going to do with that?"
"Um... I'm not exactly sure..."
"Not sure!? Shouldn't you have that figured out about now?"
"Yes... maybe... but I don't." Nobody wants to appear confused or undirected or out of control. Nobody likes the feeling of uncertainty, and that feeling gets escalated when forced to communicate it to probing others.

I was there. I am there. I will be there. I've come to realize that my life is full of questions that I don't have the answers to. There is so much I don't know about today, let alone tomorrow or 3 years from now. The truth is, even the answers I think I have... are probably wrong. And do you know what? That is the beauty of life. The unpredictability. The uncertainty. The bend in the road.

Next time you find yourself in line for an unwanted interrogation... recognize the unanswered questions as gifts to be opened. Surprises to come. Uncertainty does not have to be a weakness, it can be an anticipated revelation. So, smile and look your great aunt Judy in the eye, let her make the assessments she would like, but be confident in your unknown plans. In the paths yet to be revealed. Be excited and believe that the best is yet to come!