As an artistic academic, there lives a delicate balance in two worlds that seem to rarely align in my opinion, and yet--here in America, these two must live together to survive. At least to some degree.
Being a freelance artist is a difficult life. There is insecurity in income, and dependency upon things outside of yourself much of the time for a personalized definition of success. We strive to become what 'they' want, often ignoring the inner voice that tells us to free our own mind and follow our hearts. In this scenario, as harsh as it sounds, dreams don't pay the bills.
Being an academic is restrictive by nature. While you maintain the freedom to pursue research interests and be largely self-directed, the academic world I fear is not what it used to be. The bureaucracy can be stifling, and yet the safety the organization provides is in some ways the only way to survive within the arts....at least it can feel that way under present world circumstances.
As I walked into my personal 'actor factory' this weekend for auditions (and I say that with love), I discovered this mama leading her babies to the pond that borders one portion of our campus. The irony for me was magnanimous: Just like ducks to water, we artist march to our destiny in the dark places and make magic for our fellow citizens. We create dance. We build castles. We design fairy tales and life lessons, and we do it all because this is what we were meant to do.
While we might say there is nothing special about this pilgrimage, others in our society look at us with wonder and awe for what we do-just as I observed this small family simply doing what they do. Going for a swim. It seems so simple, and yet for me in this moment, the parallel lives I observed took my heart. Just as this mama, I walk into a dark room, to lead the babies under my watch to whatever their personal greatness may entail in relation to theatre and dance, hoping to also fulfill my artistic sensibilities simultaneously.
So dear reader, the lesson lies in simplicity. Stop and watch the ducks walk to the pond. Remember the importance of your pilgrimage, whatever that may be. Allow yourself to be led by the world and the art around you--you will find yourself there. Even if some things you encounter don't feel perfect, your reason for being there will reveal itself even in the smallest and unforeseen ways. Take your journey. Just like the ducks to water, and you will find yourself there...whatever that means in the long term.
Photo by Tracey Bonner