Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Unlucky Luck

A Reflection at Christmas, 2014

            It’s been a long time—not since the end of Lent this year—when I've had the urge to sit down and work an idea into a coherent essay.
            But now that it’s Christmas again, the mind finds time to give to itself, and with reflection comes coherence.
            I've just finished my ninth season of “The Concise Dickens’ Christmas Carol.” It was a rattling experience, to say the least, and led me to question many things. Like, what the hell am I doing?
            On December 1 I got hurt pretty badly in a bicycle accident. The first two shows of my 2014 season, on December 5 and 6, had to be canceled. The details are unimportant, except for their comic potential, but as my bike went down into a 10-foot-deep construction ditch I went over the handlebars and landed on my forehead on the street.
            I could have been killed. I could have been broken in countless places. But I only broke my nose and tore the flesh off one of my arms. It was ugly and hurt like a mother, but it didn't incapacitate me, though I did have to put off the show’s opening for another week.
            (The bike was undamaged.)
            So I could say I was lucky. But how lucky was it to ride into a ten-foot ditch in the first place?
            That’s a paradox that confounds me. Somewhere between having the accident at all and not getting hurt badly enough to cancel my ninth season lies a gap of ambiguity. Why did it happen that way?
            I've read—and tend to agree—that all any of us can do in life is follow our natures, wherever they lead. My nature, I’ll admit, has a certain reckless streak, a devil-may-care spark of independence. I try to follow the rules politely, but sometimes I just can’t. It’s not deliberate defiance. It’s my nature. I can’t do otherwise, and so I create experiences for myself, some pleasant, some not so much.
            Can I change my nature? Or at least alter it? Is my bicycle accident a message that I need to do that? If it is, where do I start? My life’s work, such as it is, hinges on that attribute and where it’s taken me. “The Concise Dickens’ Christmas Carol,” which has received spontaneous standing ovations from scores of audiences over its nine years, depends on that very same trait that plunged me into the ditch. On the one hand, it produced a bewitching hour of stagecraft for many people, and on the other a foolish wreck on my bike.
            There’s no separating good from evil, as far as I can tell. They are like Siamese twins, joined at the hip, with only three legs between them. Embrace them both, or neither—you can’t have one without the other.


At 7:03 AM , Blogger kate loving shenk said...

Falls are not fun. I've tried to figure out a few of my own. I think I will do Yoga to equalize myself in 2015 and hopefully prevent further mishaps.

At 12:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are describing very accurately an attribute of those of us who are stuck in creative mode. And you are right -- you take the bad along with the good, and make the best of it.


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