Performance Without Rehearsal

File under: things I do when I should be doing something else II

File under: things I do when I should be doing something else II

12 July 2013
12:43 AM


It’s another long night for me. No sleeping, I suspect. And yet I’m procrastinating instead of working (well, what’s new, I ask myself). I am at my desk past midnight–designing, not writing, and yet I believe it is not less important. Design is language, too, I realised. I work with shapes and colours, instead of words, and I keep at it until it’s done. I keep at it until I’ve said what needs to be said.

I’m aware though that I haven’t found my ‘voice’ in this medium yet. You know how, in our writing or in the things we read, we can recognise who it is because of his or her voice? It’s the same thing with design, only you work with various tools, instead of the (metaphorical) pen. I suppose, in a way, everything we do–whether it’s photography, or dancing, or what-have-you–we are all trying to say something, and we need to have a voice to do it. Something that is consistent, something that will identify us as the speaker.

I’m rambling, sorry. Here, this poem has been with me the whole day, particularly the last two lines:

Life While-You-Wait
Wisława Szymborska

Life While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.

I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it’s mine. I can’t exchange it.

I have to guess on the spot
just what this play’s all about.

Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can’t conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for happy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.

Words and impulses you can’t take back,
stars you’ll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run?
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.

If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven’t seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn’t even clear my throat offstage).

You’d be wrong to think that it’s just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I’m standing on the set and I see how strong it is.
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there’s no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I’ve done.

I must have said this a lot of times over the years, and over the course of our correspondence–I want to be more present in this life. In my life. I have never been more alive than when I am creating and working on my art, but how often does this happen really? I must find a way to make opportunities for myself instead of just waiting for the opportune time.

Also, to relearn: to make mistakes again. I have made a lot lately–have been making them still, but I don’t think I am allowing myself to go to it willingly. To be able to say to failure: “come what may,” and really mean it, you know? Because what my life is, lately, seems to be a series of stumbling into circumstances where I have done wrong things, where I have done things wrong. And I berate myself for it, as if such things could’ve been avoided if only I was smart enough, good enough, prepared enough.

The thing is–we could never really be prepared, no? The world is turning, and turning, and turning. And whatever I do / will become forever what I’ve done.



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