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Friday, March 28, 2014

Theatrical Therapy

Dear Mom, 

One of the many things you taught us early on was how to take advantage of resources to promote mental health. Although it was a bit odd to talk to a shrink while in middle school (I think I used to tell my friends I was going to the podiatrist again -- as if that were less bizarre -- ha!), I'm really grateful you showed us that therapists were available to help us. 

While I've gotten a lot out of my past sessions, it's not something I'm feeling compelled to do right now, but perhaps it will be again. These days, I'm mostly seeing Dr. Babs. Her rates are reasonable, and her schedule is flexible! 

However, I did have a chance to partake in what ended up being some "theatrical therapy" a couple of weeks ago, when "the Bops" were in town. 

They were going to see the Lion King and asked if they could treat me to a ticket. How sweet!!! 
I'd never seen it and can't imagine a better way to experience the show than sitting by Ainsley and listening to her ooh and aah. At one point, she leaned over to me when the hyenas were on stage and whispered, "They're BAD guys, but they're GOOD singers!" 
Oh, boy. I could give her an earful on that one. If there is anything that marks the transition from childhood to adulthood, it might be the realization that the line between the good guys and the bad guys isn't as clear as you were led to believe. Bad guys CAN indeed be good singers, can't they?! But I digress. Back to the show... 
I knew it would be good, but I didn't realize how much the "Circle of Life" theme would resonate with me right now. Everything that happens -- losing a parent too soon, running away from one's roots, growing up to honor and continue a parent's legacy, returning to your tribe as an adult -- really hit home. 

Mufasa: Simba, let me tell you something my father told me. Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars.
Young Simba: Really?
Mufasa: Yes. So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And so will I.
Adult Simba: I know what I have to do. But going back means I'll have to face my past. I've been running from it for so long.
[Rafiki hits Simba on the head with his stick]
Adult Simba: Ow! Jeez, what was that for?
Rafiki: It doesn't matter. It's in the past.
Adult Simba: Yeah, but it still hurts.
Rafiki: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or... learn from it.
Adult Simba: [Catching up] You knew my father?
Rafiki: Correction. I know your father.
Adult Simba: I hate to tell you this but he died. A long time ago.
Rafiki: Nope! wrong again! He's alive and I will show him to you! You follow old Rafiki. He knows the way!
Rafiki: [after guiding Simba to a spot where he says will show him Mufasa] Look down there.
Adult Simba: [looks into a pool of water] That's not my father. That's just my reflection.
Rafiki: No, look harder.
[touches the water, as it ripples Simba's reflection changes to that of his father]
Rafiki: You see? He lives in you.
Mufasa's ghost: [from above] Simba.
Adult Simba: Father?
Mufasa's ghost: [apears among the stars] Simba, you have forgotten me.
Adult Simba: No. How could I?
Mufasa's ghost: You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.
Adult Simba: How can I go back? I'm not who I used to be.
Mufasa's Ghost: [Now fully formed in the sky] Remember who you are. You are my son and the one true king. Remember who you are.

Now, obviously I don't think I'm The Lion King! But that idea of growing into our parents' legacy is so rich and so ripe, no matter what your "place" is in the kingdom.  

A few days later, Page happened to post on Facebook a quote from Rosanne Cash on her new album, "What you seek is seeking you." 

It reminded me that I'd seen a lovely segment on CBS Sunday Morning in which correspondent Anthony Mason took a road trip with Rosanne back to her father's roots in Arkansas, Tennessee, and the Mississippi Delta. The experience provided the content for her new album, The River and The Thread.
"I didn't know how deeply I felt about the South until I started writing the songs, or how connected I felt, or the people I loved," she says in the piece, placing a guitar pick on the grave of Robert Johnson. 
Mason ends the piece with this: 

Nearly 25 years ago, Rosanne Cash rode out of Dixie. But the road she left on has now brought her all the way back.
"In the same way you push away your parents -- you push away a lot of things, your parents' habits, the things they treasure. You go, 'Well, that's not me. I'm original.' We all think we're original! But discovering those things that really connect you to the past and your parents and where they came from . . . I feel stronger for it. I feel whole for it."

"You thought you'd left it all behind
You thought you'd up and gone
But all did was figure out
How to take the long way home."
Well, now! Isn't that right in line with all of my bellybutton analysis these days? I decided I MUST see if Rosanne would be performing this album in NYC any time soon. 

Imagine my surprise and delight when I realized she would indeed be performing it ON MY STREET THE VERY NEXT NIGHT!!! The venue Town Hall is on 43rd street between 6th and 7th Avenues. I'd been there once before to see Garrison Keilor host a storytelling event for The Moth. Funny enough, Rosanne has a story in her memoir about seeing her now-husband there years ago. 

Anyway, Travis joined me, and we both loved every minute of it! He downloaded the album the next morning and listened to it as he walked to work. I was wishing we had a set list, but Page shared the NYT review the next day, and it came pretty close. 
Page suggested I read Rosanne's memoir "Composed," which I am doing. There's a sweet section where she mentions a metaphor she crafted as a seventh-grader ("a lonely road is a bodyguard") , which she ended up putting into one of her songs, "Sleeping in Paris."

That song ended up on The Wheel, and whenever I hear it now, or think it, or sing it,  I nod to my little girl self, and she, in the wisdom of her great distance and perspective, looks on with pleasure and the patience of one who has waited a long time to be noticed. This one line, in this one song, is how I know who I am, and how I know I survived.
-- Rosanne Cash, Composed: A Memoir

Funny enough, when Page posted Rosanne's "seeking" quote, I googled it and saw a version of it is attributed to Rumi, who also penned this little gem:

Not to get off on a tangent of moral relativism, but I am really fascinated by the idea that none of us are as bad or as good as it sometimes seems. We all delight some people and disappoint others at times, don't we? I think a lot about how things that seemed so simple as a child were actually far more complex than I realized.

I spent Tuesday's flight from Charlotte to New York reading some of my old journals and realizing how much I've changed, in really wonderful ways. It almost made me treasure my grey hair! We kvetch so much about getting older, but what a gift to gain the perspective and the experiences that the years bring.

Maybe I'll be able to pull out one of my middle-school "gems" from a journal and let it shape and inform my adult creativity, as Rosanne did. Good things do come from bad things. The experience with selling the house to "the girls" really showed me that. Our loss is their gain, in a lovely, healing way. I feel so profoundly that God is with us, and God is at work, restoring and making things new.

I just wish my favorite "master in analysis" was here to talk about all of this with me. You are dearly loved and deeply missed.

Here's one last quote from Rumi:
"The wound is the place where the light enters you."




Sheila said...

L....I read your blogs with laughs and tears, often remembering in my heart of hearts so many things. They are so insightful! It helps that I've watched you grow from a precocious kid into an awesome young woman. As I often shared with your Mom, don't analyze so much you forget to enjoy the journey; sometimes you just "do the best you can with where you're at at that moment!!" You & LA have had a special spot in my heart..and will...I look forward to the book. Ms. S

Neil said...

I loved this. And you!

Dee Stephens said...

I can't wait to take Shelby to see the Lion King.