1 October 2013
I’m not actually discouraged; I think I just feel tired. I’m not really hurting; it’s just that my heart is a little stretched and sore. I’m not really unhappy; it’s just that the end of the day is a bit draining, and when all the enthusiasm and energy drains from me, what is left?
It does help, really, truly — the encouragement from other creative professionals. The true, insightful, courageous acknowledgement that life is long and we are gentle beings with occasional flashes of fierce and powerful greatness. It’s enough to admit that sometimes I feel worn through and vulnerable. Sometimes the world feels too large and too much.
One of my favorite moments is leaving the theater, walking out onto the street in civilian clothes with a bag of theater props or costumes under my arm. An insertion back into the world, where nothing has stopped for the rest of humanity. But for me, for the actor, for the performer wrapped in the womb of the dark theater, the performance has produced a new world. Time has not just stopped: it has expanded. Things are not just different: they are unimaginably altered. Every time I walk out of a theater, I am walking out into a new world, where nothing has changed but me.
It was opening night tonight. I thought I would be exhausted. I’m not — I’m just reflective.
I’m going to make a cup of tea and curl up in bed with a book. Starbook by Ben Okri is calling me again.
Three years after we married — we lived in Ann Arbor, where I taught at the University of Michigan — Jane Kenyon and I decided to spend a year at my old family farm in New Hampshire. I had spent my childhood summers there, and it was my place of all places.
Jane and I began our double solitude in the clapboard 1803 Cape cottage across from Eagle Pond as the leaves were turning: first the swamp maples, in boggy patches by the side of the road, then the sugar maples branch by branch. These colors were the most outrageous, crimson and bright orange and Chinese red. The birches turned russet, and the oaks a deeper brown-red. We floated on the bliss of the natural world.
In September, Jane first spoke of wanting to stay here forever, not going back to Michigan where I had my job and where she had grown up. While the colors were still brilliant, Jane’s mother and father drove from Ann Arbor and visited, admiring the house and the landscape. They saw their daughter revel in place and people, floorboards and vistas. At the same time, although she didn’t complain, Jane struggled with feelings of being alien. For the first time she was living apart from the familiar, from Ann Arbor, parents, brother, which was a liberation, but she lived in a house freighted with more than a century of another family, a house which kept the broken furniture and mothballed woolens of four generations. Over that first year, in her poems she recorded a gradual, tentative sense of acceptance, of connection.
It was late October where Jane made the definitive announcement: She would chain herself to the walls of the root cellar rather than leave New Hampshire. I was terrified; I was joyous… We lived among the things of the dead. Jane adored her mountain, her day, and her house — and fretted less about moving into someone else’s world. My habitual love of mountain and house grew greater, stimulated by Jane’s.
– from To Eagle Pond by Donald Hall
I sent in my application today to Iona. I should hear back before Christmas.