The downfall of not being able to verbalize my thoughts is that I am stuck with them all day. One thought that keeps returning to my forethought is that of the human condition and how the human condition bares us on our course. Having been exposed to many challenges, thoughts and experiences in the last few months, I have had to reflect much over my true self and direction.

After the accident last year, I took a little time off because I couldn’t walk or talk. Once I was able to form a complete sentence, I begged my independence behind the steering wheel and pretty much went back full throttle. My livelihood depended on that independence. It seems there is a little hump of wellness that I just have not been able to get over. In the last month it became clearly evident that I must heed the advice of physicians and take a break. The stars aligned and I took a trip to see my uncle in California. I didn’t realize that the trip would include further alignment of stars and extreme moments of clarity.

For months I had no idea what the doctor was talking about when he told me to lower my stress level. Until I got off the plane in California. Colors were vivid. The air was crisp and breathable. I felt welcomed by missed family and reconnected with old friends. I began to explore not only the world around me but the world I was becoming acutely aware of within me.

While in Los Angeles, I supported my uncle in his endeavors and then stayed in LA to see a friend at one of his shows and continued on to my uncle’s home in San Diego for the last leg of my trip. I spent a glorious day exploring on my own down by the Santa Monica Pier taking photos, observing and reflecting on my current state. My buddy from high school was kind enough to let me crash at his place that evening and took me to explore downtown LA. He indulged my deepest desire to go to High Voltage Tattoo only to miss Kat Von D by “that” much then we stalked Yamashiro and I saw breathtaking beauty there. Then we skipped down to Olivera Street for some authentic Mexican cuisine and fall-on-the-floor-after-one margaritas.

The next morning while my friend went to work I took an iPod assisted stroll up to Griffith Park and the trails in search of the perfect shot of the Hollywood Sign. Something about Annie Lennox, the air, flowers, sunshine, the path of my choosing, beautiful sites and georgous photos made me find a place deep inside of myself that I didn’t realize I had built walls around and shut off completely. My hopes, dreams, aspirations and passions seemed to float back up to the top off the walls I had forged and began to spill over. My thoughts became clear and I realized the path that I needed to take with my business that had been slipping through my fingers for a while because I was so taxed with its management.

That evening our friend Laura drove up (picked me up on Hollywood Boulevard just in the knick of time might I add) and we went to see our friend at The Actor’s Playpen. The show is called My Three Sisters, by John Walcutt adapted from The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov. The heavily philosophical and sometimes dark Chekhov is not an easy work to read or interpret much less bring alive onstage to entertain. Never having experienced a Chekhov or Checkhov-esque play onstage before I had no idea that it could actually be witty while exploring just what had been rattling around inside my noggin for the past few days. My buddy Jim (Vershinin) gave one of his best performances ever (and I’ve seen a few since circa 1989). I was thoroughly impressed with the intimate setting and the cast did a fantastic job on this show. Ariel Macintosh’s performance as Irina was absolutely unforgettable.

Immediately I connected with what was going on with all the players and identified with each of the three sisters in one small way or another. The show begins on the birthday of the youngest sister, Irina. She is the stag in the show, the light. She knows there is more because she has heard of it and can imagine what it looks like. She longs for the happy times everyone has talked of and the good things they all once had. If onlly she can get back to New York, that is where it was all left. Poor Masha, the middle sister. She married young, likely for comfort and stability and stays there because it is the right thing to do. Her husband is fine gentleman, loves her very much despite her cold temperament and is “happy, happy, happy”. There was Olga, the unwitting matriarch of the family who had settled into her role and long ago let go of childish dreams grasping at them from time to time only through the eyes of her youngest sister. She sees what her middle sister is suffering and wants desperately for her to have a passion and not betray her heart. There is also a brother, Andre whom has longed for Natalie Vermillion against his sisters’ wishes. She is not of the same class as the Prozorov family and the sisters are not happy with her style.

Enter Alexander Vershinin. He is the “new sheriff” in town, brings with him a tortured marriage, conflicted feelings about his children and knew these young ladies back in New York before their father died. He offers to Irina more stories of New York to fuel her desire to forego proposals of marriage by her suitors and become an independent woman who earns her own wage and make it back to her idyllic happy place. He respects Olga’s authority in the family and treats with the dignity reserved for men in that position. In return, Olga shows him kindness and opens her heart without expecting a return on the investment. Col. Vershinin shows Masha that she does have emotion after all and she opens to the idea, sparking passion within them both. He doesn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with Andre.

All of the siblings represent a different facet on this philosophical journey for me. There is labor, work, action and ultimately the human condition. Labor is that which we do to stay alive; how we make a living, put food on the table and clothes on our back. It is redundant and must be done. Our work produces something. We work at a relationship, to build a house or to craft something we give. Generally our work either frustrates or satisfies us and can sometimes do both. Our actions are what people see about us. Although there is some debate on the matter, my philosophy is that we control what others see in us. Sometimes people catch glimpses of us that we didn’t want to let slip and it can be hard to balance what our true self is and what our public image shows. The final definition character activity here is the human condition. While it is sometimes used as a collective term for the preceding three, I choose to keep it separate. You could simply call it desire.

Andre marries Natalie and they produce children. He works tirelessly at his marriage to keep her happy and satisfy his sisters. Olga labors through life caring for the needs of everyone on the family. She seems settled to her role and we catch a glimpse now and then of what her dreams once were; a husband, children, maybe a nice home in New York. She is our laborer. Masha, poor Masha, she is such the actor. She plays the role of wife to the husband that is so happy and so fond of her. All the while they are both denying the fact that they are smothering the other’s flame out. Masha and Vershinin had a spark and it was a betrayal of their vows to their respective spouses. When they decided to give in to the betrayal, Vershinin was deployed and Masha was left. Ah, Irina. She is what everyone has saved up. She is full of desire, ready to work, labor and act upon her goal. When she is finally convinced that the only way to achieve that true desire is to accept Baron’s hand in marriage, that betrayal of herself is paid back with his death.

The human condition. Desire. We want what is just beyond our reach; what is imagined but not yet fully real. So, what happens when desire is realized? Where do you go from there? You go back to your labor, your work and your action. Desire is what lies within in us and we have to choose to act upon the desire, let it develop more before we act or to let it go so that we can carry on without hinderance to our labor and work. Desire can consume a person wholly if it is not either put to rest or allowed the chance to become reality. Therein lies the indivdual debate. Do I defy my dreams, debate my dreams or drive my dreams to reality? Judging from this play and my experiences leading up to and thereafter: move over, I’m getting in the driver’s seat!

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