One day, I woke up and it all seemed better.
It all seemed more possible. I suddenly had energy to tackle all the (seemingly hopeless) tasks. I felt, out of the blue, like myself again. When, oddly, the day before, I wouldn’t have said I was NOT myself. I’d been fine for some time. You know, doin’ okay and all that. But one day I woke up well.
Reynaldo arrives in Paris. It has been a long journey. The trip from Denmark to France is not a short one and Reynaldo has had his patience tried by garrulous fellow passengers, ones with much greater status than himself to who he must smile politely and laugh at the appropriate pauses. Coaches have jostled him. He has not been able to read, either at night, in the dark, or during the day, with the constant motion. His stomach has given him some trouble and he is ready for a real rest in a real bed.
The inn is welcoming. Lights flicker and beckon the weary traveler to settle in and rest. The innkeeper pats him on the shoulder and points him to his room, while a gangly teenage boy picks up his bag for him.
Reynaldo makes his way up the stairs, then down the hallway, his feet sinking into the long rug that goes the length of it. He’s ready for sleep – and suddenly very grateful that his only responsibility tomorrow will be to hang out in a bar/café/pub, drink and talk with people. As he approaches his room, he sees a young woman coming out of another room, closing the door as quietly as she can, looking for all the world like she were attempting to sneak out without drawing attention to herself from a sleeping person inside.
She jumps a little when she sees Reynaldo and blushes, charmingly, he thinks. She does a little curtsy and nods at the boy with the bag, before scurrying quickly past him down the hall toward the stairs.
I’m not sure what this has to do with anything – but I just discovered that an old friend of mine has won a bunch of prestigious awards. I don’t begrudge him them. He might actually deserve such things, if anyone does. It’s good. It’s good. If anyone gets to get awards, right? It should go to the deserving? The ones we know are brilliant, even if they sometimes aren’t – the way I mostly feel I’m not, but sometimes am.
But still there is jealousy. I write it in green pen. I write it in this book that no one will ever see, surrounded by words unpublished, words that may never be published or be public in any way. I write with the jealousy of the unawarded, the unpublished, the unproduced, the unrecognized, the unknown and find comfort in other people’s jealousy. I find comfort in this: The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered by Clive James
Slipped into a liminal space, a space where nothing matters, not the most important or the least important things – just this now, this here, this, this, this.
No thinking, no wondering, no prioritizing, no struggling, no trying or failing. I have, even today, found myself entirely present – then rushed back to reality.
Reynaldo has been listening. He has paid careful attention to Polonius’ language and quotes almost everything he has said in the last few lines. Not everyone can do this. Sometimes a person can give you the gist of what you said. Sometimes they’ve tuned out and can give you no help at all. Only the rare listener will be able to reflect back your exact phrasing. It’s comforting to know, though, that this is a muscle that can be trained – that close listening is a skill not a trait . . . it gives a person hope to imagine a world of listeners as expert as Reynaldo.
When a man has returned to his second childhood, he is once more applauded for the simple things he can do. He is congratulated for walking down the hall, for eating his entire meal, for signing his name. People speak to him the way they speak to children but they pat him on the shoulder, perhaps, instead of the head.
In the middle, small accomplishments go un-noticed and often so do the great strides and monumental accomplishments making him strive for ever farther goalposts, ever longer shots, ever bigger prizes – but even the man with the biggest prize is likely to be patted on the shoulder when he’s old for making it to the bathroom without incident.
When I was growing up, I was insatiable for knowing. I wanted to know about people, how they thought, what they did, what they wore in other countries, how they danced, what they sang, what they dreamed of. I read books to get a drink of this knowing whenever I could. I watched plays, movies or TV and hoped they would satisfy more of my knowing. I wanted to know whys and hows, explanations and propositions. I thought I could read every book in the library and I nearly did read every book in the children’s room. There seemed no limit to the things I would want to know.
Reynaldo’s trying to speak some truth to power
(if in fact, he’s a servant as he is often played.)
He does not blindly accept an order.
He has to question it, understand it, point out the holes in the plan.
Those are some of the most important people in the world. The ones who will
stand up and ask questions make enormous differences for the rest of us.
I was proud of my student yesterday who kept his hand in the air,
Even while the Principal was moving on, taking the floor, clearly ready to wrap up. He left his hand up, straight up, until she finally called on him almost in annoyance saying, “What is your question?”
Which once he’d asked it, she answered, generously changing her tone. I love that he didn’t give up. I love that he got what he needed. I love that he made a space for himself and his class in a moment that wasn’t his to take.
Drabbing will still lead to dishonor in this day and age. Secret Service agents, movie stars, District Attorneys are all vulnerable to public shaming for dabbling in drabbing. Surely many a publicist and PR team has done enormous damage control of their clients honor. It’s not as if drabbing doesn’t happen. The culture is way too obsessed with empty sexuality for the practice to vanish all together.
But it is no badge of honor to confess it. You wouldn’t put your drabbing on your Facebook page or Tweet it or post pics on your tumblr. If someone caught wind, your job might be in jeopardy, your relationships upended, your public life clouded in shame. Not to mention the possibility that you could be arrested. I wonder if part of the allure is in its secrecy, in its inherent dishonor and ill repute.
Surely gaming must refer to gambling.
Surely games themselves are not youthful indiscretions.
I have a bias, of course, despite having not a single competitive bone in my body, I am a believer in games. Mostly because I’m a believer in PLAYING and a game encourages playing. Especially onstage.
One of my favorite teachers is always encouraging his students to find the game – to make a game of everything.
You find that you can find the game of brushing your teeth
Or the game of walking into a room.
As people get better at finding the games, the more compelling they get on stage.
Me, I’m particularly fond of the game of being onstage.