I’ve been feeling rather low in the past week. I think this is the week when all the excitement of a new school and new classmates and new friends are starting to wane, while classes are getting harder and more demanding. And I am left feeling rather lonely and depressed. Lispa asks so much of you – more and more as time goes on I’m asked to reveal parts of myself to other people that I have not even recognized in myself, and that is just really, really hard. In neutral mask improvisation the other day, we were beginning work on the elemental journey. In the elemental journey, the neutral mask starts out in the ocean, winds its way through a forest, up and down a mountain, across a stream, through a desert, and ultimately, into a setting sun. It is the journey of life. I was doing the first part – being in an ocean, and arriving on the shore. In my first attempt I was too timid, so I was pushed again and again to try and be bigger, to really see and experience the ocean, to show the rest of the class its vastness. I was frustrated because I couldn’t do it. I felt scared, lost in the big empty space, and overwhelmed. At the end, as I stood there with the mask in my hand, trying to tell the teacher how I felt, I could feel the blood rushing to my face. I was at a loss for words. Right then and there, and perhaps all through my improv, I realize that my habitual reluctance to be big, to take center stage, to own everything I do, and even, my secret fear of realizing my full potential, was plain and clear for everyone to see, because thats what my body was telling them as I struggled to create a bigger ocean. I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way, but still, it is difficult. It is hard because while I am asked to open myself up, to live with an amplified heart day in and day out, I’m not getting the level of emotional nourishment I need from a network of close friends. It is draining, and I crave solace.
Today though, a new warmth fills my heart, and it came from a beautiful voice class with Jacquie Crago, a voice teacher who works with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She is a wonderful woman. Every week, she comes into the studio with a big warm smile, and reminds us to breathe. She will tell us, again and again, to ground ourselves and use the floor for energy and support. We breathe, and through various exercises we let our voices travel through our bodies, ringing out into the space. We watch as the sounds reverberate off the walls. Today, Jacquie asked us each to think of two words from our own language – one that is joyful, and one that is sad, mournful. Then we were to lie on our backs and roll the two words through our mouths, discovering the sounds that were made, experiencing it fully. Then, we paired up, and with her gentle voice, Jacquie told one of us to close our eyes, and the other one to start rubbing our partner’s shoulders, tuning into one another’s breathing. As we worked with our partners, we whispered one of the words into their ears, over and over and over, letting the sound build, enveloping them, while our hands caressed and stroked their necks, their shoulders, their backs. Eventually, they would join in with the word, whispering it as the tension in their bodies ease with every passing touch. Both partners stand close, speaking as one. My partner is a Brazilian named Diego, a gentle boy with a big heart, and to have him rubbing my neck and shoulders while murmuring the Portuguese word for beloved, “Amar, Amar” into my ear is an experience beautiful beyond words. No matter that he loves men. The nerves in my entire body was tingling, and I felt so alive. It was incredibly intimate, like there was nothing else in the world except his voice and mine, and us breathing together, the feeling of his hand on my shoulder. It is moments like these that make me believe in humanity, and love, all over again