I’ve been rather quiet the last few weeks, haven’t I? Sorry about that, but I have had a very good excuse. I’ve been enjoying a different activity like a fresh spring breeze blowing through my life. For the first time in a few years, I’ve ventured back into the realms of the theatre and set design. For most of the last month, I’ve spent every spare moment at the hall here in town, working to create the sets for a production of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple”. From a blank black stage, we have created a New York City 1930’s-era apartment being occupied by two divorced guys in the 1980’s.
I had a list of ready volunteers and some talented carpenters to help build my vision for me. The carpenters did their wonderful work, and the volunteers came in to help with some of the painting. In the end, I sent them home and spent several 12-hour days working alone in the silent hall. The executive producer kept asking me why nobody was helping me . . .
How could I explain that I never get time to myself? That the opportunity to immerse myself body and soul in the silence and the work of my hands was a blessed meditation? As the days lengthened and the hours passed, the narrowness of my focus and the rhythmic movement of my hands created an emptiness, a sense of openness and space within where there was no thought, no worry, no demands. At the end of a month’s worth of weekends, I emerged cleansed and open. Standing at the opening reception, receiving the words of thanks and praise from patrons and wellwishers, I couldn’t find a way to explain to these people that I didn’t deserve thanks, that I should be thanking them. My memory keeps flitting back to that early scene in “The Karate Kid” where Ralph Macchio has to learn how to wash a car and paint a fence with mindfulness. Thank you, Pine Tree Players, you have no idea quite how valuable a gift you gave me when you asked me to take part.