Sit down, kids, and I’ll tell you a story.
One of the greatest things I ever did was to take a low point in my life and esteem and turn it into motivation to focus on time for myself, and getting back in touch with things I enjoyed.
I was in my late 20s, single, and going through what might have been classified in retrospect as a form of depression. A good portion of that time was admittedly spent going out, drinking, dating, and in some form or another, always landing right back to the same starting point again, rinse and repeat. I also (being able to look back retrospectively and introspectively on myself) was not my best self and feel that I lacked a bit of maturity and awareness of the world outside my own interests and vision. Perhaps a symptom of my age at the time, perhaps just something that develops through our life experiences. But I’m glad I can see and admit that now.
I wasn’t happy and at the time I looked at many outside factors as things that might potentially make me happy. Only now, almost but not quite 15 years later, am I able to have the perspective to realize that nothing, not a thing that I could have obtained (a different job, a different living space, a relationship with XY or Z), none of it would have actually made a difference.
Because now I’m incredibly fortunate enough to realize that happiness can’t be found in any particular thing. You can chase it, but if you get it, you’ll find yourself still struggling to understand why you’re not better. That’s because being happy comes from something much closer to home. It can only be found within oneself. It’s in your outlook, your mindset, your gratitude for the good in life and letting it tip the scale on the bad.
One particular Fall/Winter season, after a few of those vicious cycles, I decided it was time to pull back and focus on a new way and a new focus, namely myself. I didn’t go out. I’d come home to my apartment after work, get cozy, make some food, watch some television or read, maybe work on something creative, and call it a night.
To some I think it might have looked like turning into a hermit, but for me at the time, it was refocusing my energies back onto time for myself and things I enjoyed. Quiet time. A time to get back in touch with myself again.
I tried theatre again – something I hadn’t done at that point since high school. Eventually that led to a small part at a playhouse I had never heard of about a half hour away. A friend had suggested to me that I give it a try. There, I met a wonderful group of people in what seemed like a rag tag group of performers trying their best with minimal resources to put on a show (paralleling a similar type of circumstance in the play’s story itself). And among that crew was a new friend – well, sort of. She’d make fun of me a lot. And I’d often leave thinking “that girl is so weird.”
But, we were becoming friends.
About five or six months later, another play came around at the same playhouse and having had such a fun experience, I tried again. Lo and behold, “that weird girl” and I were both in the cast again and we found our friendship beginning to grow.
By the time the show’s run ended a few months later, we must have realized that we liked each other because I asked her out to a touring production of a Broadway show that came through town.
And I guess the rest, as they say, is history. Three-kids later history.
The realization to look inward for my happiness, that season of reconnecting with myself led me somewhere I never would have guessed, and somewhere I wouldn’t change for the world.
And that, kids, is how I met your mother.
Posted by thedorkydaddy in Emotions, growing up, Marriage, Socializing, Time, Uncategorized Tags: Alone Time, being single, community theatre, dating, Happiness, how i met your mother, looking back, Marriage, on stage, Reflection, relationships, theatre, twenty-something
Heck, that’s even how we met, both cast in the same show many, many moons ago. We were both, whether separately or together, in usually two shows a year, but devoting a lot of our time to the theatre where we met in other ways – working on sets for other shows, helping directors with auditions, clean-up days. We both even served on the theatre board in different capacities over the course of several years as well.
I have seen that place in so many ways – as a refuge for those in need of a place to fit in, a historical heritage carried on by one successive generation after the next, a source of frustration (mostly during some of my time on the theatre board, which at times felt like a second job with the amount of time spent there), and as a social hub.
Most of all, though, it was a tradition, a sense of history. The particular theatre where my wife and I met was formed in the 1920s and has continuously put on multiple shows a year ever since. To walk through its rooms, hand-made posters dating back almost a century hanging on its walls, you can’t help but feel a sense of history as you stand there. When I would see a poster from a show Meg and I were in I’d think, ‘we’re a part of that history now.’ It’s a pretty darn neat thing.
We were actually in rehearsals for a show the night Meg found out she was pregnant. I came home to find her unique method of letting the cat out of the bag (notes with clues, tied to the collars of our actual cats) and we didn’t have much time before having to race out of the house to rehearsals for Arsenic and Old Lace, this completely new world of impending parenthood freshly dropped into our brains.
We had spent the better part of our lives on stage in some role or another, be it at that theatre or elsewhere. Soon after we found out we were expecting, though, we realized, this was not going to work as-is. So, as much as we loved it, we decided it was time to dim the lights on our theatre participation, at least until the little guy is old enough to come with us, or heck, possibly join us on stage if he wants.
It wasn’t easy. When something has been such a large part of your life, it’s hard to suddenly not have a show to be rehearsing for or not go to those monthly meetings and see everyone. At first it was weird, now it’s become even weirder to think about trying to get back into it at some point.
A lot of people will ask us “are you doing any theatre?” or “are you coming back to the theatre anytime soon?”
The real answer is, we don’t know. I’m sure we’d have fun. It’s in our blood. Heck, it seems to be in our little guy’s blood even at the age of one. Who knows, maybe we’ll get him up on stage one day and we’ll be a family of performers.
It’s one of those things, though, that I think only time will tell. I mean, come on, all theatre people, deep in their hearts, no matter how much they say they’re done, are just waiting for that right script or show for the “comeback performance.”
In the meantime, my stock answer for people is always “well, he’s our big production at the moment.”
Posted by thedorkydaddy in Arts, Baby Prep, Cats, Family, Socializing Tags: actors, baby, Child Prep, community theatre, family of performers, leaving theatre, performing arts, Spouse Support, stage, The Dorky Daddy, theatre, Work