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Beseeching fires

Monday 12/21/20

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Even if I had people in my life, which I don't, I wouldn't let anyone into this apartment, because it is embarrassing the manner in which I live at the moment. I'm embarrassed about very little in life. I know completely who I am, and I have no problem with someone seeing all of that, or as much as they could or understand. There is a calendar from 2012 that has remained tacked to the bathroom wall, opened to December. That was the first Christmas I spent entirely alone. I was sick. I sat at this desk in a year in which I began to work as no one had ever worked, changing, growing, and I wrote, spitting up blood that day into a coffee cup. There were a lot of things wrong at the time, like with my heart. I had been through a trauma that I thought was as traumatic as any I'd experience would be, but I didn't yet know what was going to happen to me as I grew, becoming unlike any artist there had been or would be, and this industry did what it did, does.

I hadn't begun the fitness routines I now incorporate into my life so that I can continue to withstand and endure, until I prevail. And then go on a long, long time, after that prevailing. I had a wife, as has been documented in these pages, and in various works over the years, who left without a word of warning or voiced displeasure, shortly after we acquired a home. She was the person I trusted more than anyone I had ever known. Friends I thought I had who weren't really friends, as one might learn in time, or my family. She told me to trust her unconditionally, to put parts of my life, if need be, into her care, because she loved me and supported me and believed in me. And then she was gone one day, and she took everything from me that I hadn't already given her. She never told me why. It was like having your life raped. While being vivisected. I had a stroke in my thirties, I took the train up to the woods and I sat there waiting to put myself in front of it. Those were my days. And creating. Because I changed so much. I always knew I had an ability that no one else did, but the decision I made to give myself over to change, to push harder than I ever had, has played a huge role in what one sees in these pages, in making the human and artist who can do what this one does.

The calendar is a reminder, on several fronts. To keep going. To hold people accountable when I have the chance, and to keep going so that I make sure I do eventually have that chance. That next year of 2013 is when I began going to things by myself. I go to everything by myself, because I am entirely alone. The more I grew, learned, the further removed I became from other people. Who stay where they are, often. And who were always on a different plane than I was anyway. When I was seven. One goes to things alone and notices, naturally, how no one else does. They are with people who care about them, or purport to. But I'd think to myself, "You will move forward. You're not giving in. Later, you will be where you wish and deserve to be, where the work will take you, and you will have people who care about you, and maybe you will take the one you care about most, who cares about you the most, to this thing you're at today. She will perhaps know when the lights go down why you give her that little extra squeeze on the shoulder when your arm is around her back, why it is so important to you to be here with her, to share this." That's really what I'd think. What I do think.

It was in 2013 that I started going to the Christmas Revels at Sanders Theatre at Harvard. A lot of talented people put the Revels together. It's music and acting and scenes and skits within a larger narrative framework, that changes from year to year, but certain parts of the show, in the musical selections, remain the same. There is, for instance, the song called "Lord of the Dance," which is about a man who is hated, who gives of his life so that others may live better, and who comes back from great trauma to spread his work. The people in the audience link arms near the end, and everyone dances, singing, linked together, out into the great hall, outside of the theatre proper, which is where the song ends. I sat there that first year, as everyone left, and I listened to them singing in rooms away, and I just cried.

This is the person that an industry thinks is a monster because he can do things that no one else in it can do. But this the monster. This man of this nature. Near the end of the performance, there's a poem of sorts called "The Shortest Day," which is, of course, about the winter solstice, but so much more. It is, to me, the poem version of my calendar from those years ago hanging on the wall, the reminder. To both condense time, make the most of time, and get to the point of time that you deserve, to have your time. At the end of the poem, the orator declares, "Welcome Yule!" and everyone in the audience shouts the words back.

Today on Twitter, because I figure many people don't know the poem, and maybe a very few would listen to it, which would at least be something, and perhaps make a difference in one or two lives, I put up a link to the poem. The Revels are not being staged this year as in years past, in front of audience. The social media person for the Revels saw it, and tweeted, simply, "Welcome Yule!" and I thought, once again, right, you will prevail over the evil that that person did, and you are not losing to the people of this industry, because you will get to where you are going. That is your dance.

It's a good poem.


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