It took me a long time to decide on moving to Chicago. I did a lot of research. I asked questions; I received answers; I considered the advice of the knowledgeable and the ignorant alike. Now that my searching is complete, I realize that the answers I needed were always right here at the beginning.*
Have a look at my dresser:
That is my dresser. (No, not the kind of dresser I will have one day who will put my clothes on me. I mean the sawdust-packed-scrapwood piece of furniture my poor ass got at Ikea two years ago.)
What do you notice first when you look at it? If you're astute, you see Bart Simpson, peaking out from my DVD collection like one of those The City of Lost Children cyclops'. That creeps me out, so I'm going to ignore it. I recommend you do the same.
So what do you notice next: the blue basketball or the framed program? Lock in your answer before I go on.
Okay, some information on those:
The program is a gift from my father. He went to a fundraiser this year which included the opportunity to attend a Duke Men's Basketball practice and meet coach Mike Krzyzewski. (Yeah, I can spell it.) When they met, my father asked Coach K to autograph the program from the event, then he had it framed and gave it to me for Christmas. If you can't read the autograph, it says "Follow Your Heart!" Notice the exclamation point; Krzyzewski was in the military once, and this autograph is not a suggestion.
The blue basketball was also a gift. My students at AC2 gave it to me many years ago. It is one of many closing night gifts that students have given me over the years--not because I particularly deserve them, but because it's tradition. I don't favor this closing night gift over any others; it just happens to look nice on my dresser and be blue. Let's let it represent nine years of closing night gifts and go from here, okay? Okay.
So which of these two deeply meaningful gifts affirms my decision to go pro?
Well, one is a signed program from the winningest coach in Division I college basketball ordering me to follow my heart. The other is a $15 basketball signed in a silly way by a bunch of minors who no one has ever heard of outside of Newton, Massachusetts . . .
. . . minors who, right under the noses of thousands of Boston theatre goers, are producing powerful, passionate theatre . . .
. . . who are slavishly dedicating themselves to something they love for absolutely no financial benefit and, starting next year, to their financial detriment . . .
. . . who remind me every year that everyone's voice matters . . .
. . . who will see you as a person and not a means to an end . . .
. . . who have kept me floating amidst a flurry of difficult decisions and rejection letters, whether they know it or not.
So, I guess . . . I guess it's useless to compare gifts. Much more wise just to listen to them when they speak.
*It happens to the best of us. Ever, for example, read The Alchemist while looking for your car keys?