Holding the Mirror Up

As you may have been alerted on The Facebooks, The Twitters and/or ma' brother 'blog, Loki's Apiary, I am performing this week in a short play called Princess. Jason Schafer is the writer of this play, Kay Long directs and Stacey Linnartz performs with me (or really: I with her), to drop a few names for The Googles. This is a tough one to write about midstream, as it were, because to reveal anything specific about the plot sort of jiggles the ride a bit too much. Suffice it to say that I play a young husband and father having a rather important conversation with my wife, about our son.

As you may also know from The Everythings, Wife Megan and I recently invited a new addition to our little family. Anton is not quite the same as having a son, but I have to admit that he has been full of more lessons and surprises -- not to mention, less sleep -- than I had imagined. A series of his more worrisome idiosyncrasies:
  • He's named Anton . . . and I didn't name him. That was his name when we adopted him, and as a theatre enthusiast I am required to honor it, and yet everyone we tell responds, "Anton...?" in, you know, that way.
  • Anton's got these stiff back legs, so not much of a jumper. He's not too old, but something's up there. Makes me wonder if he was a dog in a past life.
  • He doesn't like being held, and won't sit in laps. Very affectionate otherwise, though, so maybe it's got something to do with the legs.
  • When we go to bed, anywhere from ten minutes to an hour later he will meow from the other room . . . with question marks at the end. I AM NOT KIDDING. There is no other interpretation. Anton has somehow lost us between the two rooms of our apartment.
  • He's a bit of a biter (not hard), fairly neurotic (see above) and . . . a humper. He humps. Blankets and jackets, mostly. He's neutered, but there you have it. He is humpy.
The son of my character does not have any of these problems (insofar as the script has detailed) but the emotions remind me of our recent feline complications. You worry, at odd times, and you spend a lot of time blindly interpreting, too. Does the love of a cat compare to the love for a child? Certainly not, yet I am surprised by how affectionate I have become of Anton in such a short time, and it reminds me of that old idiom about fathers not really being fathers until they actually get to meet their child.

Worry not, Dear Reader: I am not sense-memory-ing my way through Princess using my cat as an analogue for a son. (I might've in college, though, I have to confess.) I'm just sort of fascinated by the ways in which what I'm making happen and what is happening to me tend to become harmonious when I'm working in the theatre. Neither am I suggesting anything mystical in this -- I tend to view these things from a humanist perspective, at most -- yet it may just say something about how intention and deliberate action can influence one's sense of unity in life. And why the theatre in particular? Well, that may particularly have to do with me, and how much I love it, but it may also have to do with how much more evident observations can become when one is living out loud (much less in front of an audience).

It was actually in college that I really started to notice it, though somehow I aspired to "noticing" it even in high school. It's this "Oh...huh...yes..." kind of moment that occurs in rehearsal, and also starts to occur a bit in life, assuming you're feeling a strong connection to the work. In rehearsal you spend all this concentrated energy saying, for example, the same five words over and over again, in different ways, until at some point you nail it: oh...huh...yes.... It's great. Doesn't happen nearly enough, in my opinion. The act of searching -- not being in a generic search mode, but actively searching -- heightens awarenesses both internal and external. It can feel like a kind of magic, and you want to share it with everyone, but of course not everyone is interested. So, if you're like me, you end up humming quietly to yourself and every so often accidentally effusing all over some hapless and innocent Internet troller such as yourself.

Egad, I <3 the Internet.

Even if you accept my half-formed theories about how this synchronicity comes about, there remain some chicken-and-egg-type questions. Do you perceive a connection because you want to, or because it's pointedly poking you in the deep recesses of your brain? Did your searching begin with rehearsal, or did it start with looking for a job? Are the connections a result of the searching, or vice versa? Am I a proud cat owner because I'm thinking more about parenthood, or am I thinking more about parenthood because I have this weirdo cat, or is it all because of Megan?

Oh; huh: yes. Well, that last one is pretty clear-cut. But the rest are still unanswerable!