Thursday, June 4, 2009

on SITI summer-part two OR revelations on my body being of this world

today, i cried during morning warm-ups.

i woke at 7, ate breakfast and then did morning pages. i was sore and had very little sleep. i'm coming down with a cold. i was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. so when i arrived to the studio, i was in a place of feeling beaten down. like it took every fiber of my being to get out of bed and do some type of ritual. i was super vigilant and disciplined because if i hadn't been, i would not have made it to class. but i was fine.

or so i thought. i had just started stretching when barney (a SITI company member, and the teacher for that class) started playing bach's well-tempered clavier. i smiled and mumbled, "ah, bach." but then i felt this welling come from the pit of my stomach up my throat and out my eyes. before i knew it, tears were streaming down my face and one of the lovely australian women in the program was coming up to me and asking me if i was okay.

it was a cognitive glitch. i always listen to bach when i'm feeling on the verge of depression or frightened. arriving at class, i was hard and closed, trying to maintain my discipline and ignore my pain. but the bach sparked an emotional trigger of comfort and self-care that was too visceral and overwhelming to ignore. in short, i was confused. my mind was telling me that everything was fine (and it was, in a way), but my body and spirit and emotions were telling me that things were far from right (and they were). so i cried. and the only thing that i kept hearing in my head was: this is so hard.

and weeping helped me see that fact. by letting the pain and the doubt flow through me, i moved past it. whole and intact albeit exhausted and spent.

a lot about our training is about fear, pain, and even mortality. there is a moment when we stomp during suzuki class--every time i do it, in fact--when i literally feel like i am going to die. i actually believe that i will somehow cease living. the muscle pain and intensity is so strong that all i can do is concentrate on not letting myself die. and then--quite miraculously--that exercise ends, and i am alive and whole. often, i'm euphoric from somehow escaping the jaws of death.

this is what SITI summer seems to be about. moments in suzuki where the legs are trembling from physical limitations, viewpoints sessions where keeping up feels impossible, doing a compositions assignment that has so many stipulations, it would take at least a month--in a week. these have all made me feel like i'm going to die. like i'm going to crash and burn. like i will fail miserably. but then i don't. there are many failures along the way, but the resistence to death--both physically and metaphorically--pushes us out the other side with a new sense of purpose and spirituality. it's an acknowledgment that every moment we continue to live, we are actually cheating death.

anne bogart talks about how the creative process is violently destructive. how for every decision an artist makes, she is killing a myriad of possibilities. this tends to lead to stasis and creative block: we don't want to "kill our babies." and so it makes sense that our work here seems to bring us in very close proximity to destruction, but ultimately leads to amazing creative discoveries.

some of my fellow trainees still seem to be unscathed by what i see as this proximity to death. maybe they are tougher. maybe they are in denial. maybe they are not actually of this world. i, however, emphatically am.


Jen said...

thank you for sharing this window into your unfolding experience at SITI, kt. really hearing and feeling this. your words are rolling around in my mind now -- much to think about. thank you. & congratulations on caring for & challenging yourself. keep on keepin on!

k. terumi shorb said...

thanks, jen. thanks for being a witness. i think about everyone in austin who helped me get here whenever i feel too tired to move. and that helps me put one foot in front of the other to bring something back that makes everything worth it.

Robert said...

Good luck with you work in at Skidmore. When I went in 2005, we were working on A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Unfortunately, the production didn't happen, but can you imagine Ellen as Blanche? Chills.

My best wishes as you slowly are lowered from the frying pan into the fire with composition work, which is not to say it's not totally work the struggle.

And thanks for sharing your experience on the blog.

k. terumi shorb said...

hi robert,
are you a robert i have met in person? we are doing streetcar in our dramaturgy class. and thank you for the words of encouragement. so long as time permits (HA!!) i plan to update this as frequently as possible while i'm here.