It’s Election Night and We’re All Going to Die: Uncertainty and Following Your Performer’s Heart

Posted by: on November 8, 2016

Like many of you, I’ve been (quite literally) tied in knots recently. This election has me on tenterhooks, so I decided to do what I sometimes do well – spill my guts on the internet in hopes of some sort of cathartic release. How will I parlay this into a circus blog post, you ask? Oh ye of little faith, I may take the scenic route, but I’ll get somewhere. Maybe. Probably. No – definitely.



Do I do this? Why the f**k am I doing this? When should I do this? Am I being stupid for doing this? But I love this. But should I waste the (fill in the blank – time, money, heart, etc) on this? And so it goes. Uncertainty. Circus is fraught with it. Uncertainty about what to focus on, whom to partner with, where to base yourself, whether to give it all up and become an accountant because CRAP you are never gonna get that back planche and you were never good enough anyway and you always suck on Tuesday nights. Ugh. Uncertainty.

Our election misery will (hopefully) soon be over, but our circus quandaries persist. We’re so often torn between practicality and what we (and society) view as frivolity. But tell me – does it feel frivolous when you’re training and performing? Or does it feel like your soul has swelled to twelve times it’s normal size, and is pushing at the boundaries of your skin, seeping out of your pores and running down your body, until you’ve totally spent yourself in a sweaty heap? Yeah, me too. Not all the time, but when it matters.

As productive members of society, we are charged with taking care of ourselves and our people, and making a contribution. In the good ole US of A, that contribution is valued less if it doesn’t result in a clearly profitable service or product. I am SO not going to open that can of worms today – not today, friends. But I will say this: art and entertainment is not frivolous. It is essential, whether that gets recognized or not. So, our choice is not between practicality and frivolity. It’s not even a choice at all – if it’s really for you, the work is a calling. We do what we have to do to pay our bills, we dance with the devil in negotiating our dreams, and we cobble together a life on our own terms. So, while questioning is always good, and heaven knows we’ll always worry about the future, perhaps we can make peace with the uncertainty part. Maybe – just maybe – we put it on hold for a while, and give ourselves to the dream like idiots (….. idiots who make good business decisions).

Where does that leave us? The Neverwhere. Ambiguous-ville. UncertainLand. Uuuuugh, so uncomfortable. But what is the alternative?

Never having been one to do things in half measures, I think I come down where I always have. I choose the uncertainty. I choose the Big Life. I choose THIS life. So, friends, spend the money on the circus classes. Buy the costume. Squander the hours trying to sit on your own head. Fall in love. Fall in love with it all. Because, in the end, it’s the only thing we can take away: the love. The terrible, wasteful extravagance of love.

This poem is pretty much required reading for artists (and, you know, humans). “To Have Without Holding” by Marge Piercy. Read the whole thing here, it’s short- you’ll be glad you did.

“Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.” – excerpted from “To Have Without Holding” by Marge Piercy

Dare to imagine, Laura

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