Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ON THE ROAD with Anna Deavere Smith, MLK and Obama

(Warning: This post is as jumbled as my thoughts. It is clear why I am not a writer. But as Anna says: It is all about the struggle to articulate. That is where character lives. Therefore I struggle and struggle...)

Been getting lots of inspiration from these three exceptional human beings.

And then in speaking to a fellow artist today, a playwright, the two of us (as unexceptional yet full human beings), were debating the issue of THE STRUGGLE. In his case, is it worth it to continue rewriting and working on his play if there is no guarantee he will ever see his play produced on stage?

So the question is: Does satisfaction and reward only come through a sense of accomplishment? And if one does NOT accomplish the goal, is it worth the effort? OR as in yoga, is it not about successfully completing each and every pose, but about the practice? The struggle. Action.

So our conversation has me go back to the posting from Jan 19 (see below), MLK's speech on race relations: That the extreme optimist and the extreme pessimist have one thing in common. Neither will do anything about race relations. The extememe optimist because there is nothing to do since we have come so far. And the extreme pessimist because it is futile since we have so far to go.

Do we not put any effort into this goal, or any other goal, unless we are ABSOLUTELY sure there will be a clear and positive outcome and reward?

If we only attempt to achieve what we know we can accomplish, where does greatness live? Where does creativity live? Imagination lives in the unknown, rather than what is clearly known. If we knew all, we would not need imagination.

And I realize that Obama ran for President of the United States even though there was no guarantee that it would be worth it. In fact most of us thought we would never see the day. Yet people were moved to action. Without guarantee. And that action did result in the reward. At least for this moment.

But of course as Obama said in his inaugural speech, the struggle continues. It is in each and every one of us. It takes the effort of us all, even though we do not know what the result will be. Yet we move to action. Take on the struggle

So I will try to be, as MLK asks of all of us, to be the extreme realist. To struggle for the outcome, to live in action, even though I do not know where this will all end up.

Interesting to note that my friend's play is about death. Inevitable death. Why do we continue to fight to live even though the outcome is clear: That we all someday will die.

Sorry to be so grim! I am hoping this knowledge is liberating as opposed to paralyzing.

So I say to him and to me: the day we give up the struggle... isn't that the day we truly cease to continue living?

Here's to the struggle.

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