Keep Your Head Up

“It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all.  The opposite of love’s indifference.”

These lovely words are from a lovely song by the very lovely band The Lumineers called Stubborn Love.  If you haven’t the patience for the 4:40 video, watch the last 45 second.  Smiles will follow.

This week has been hell.  Too busy, too tired, too stressed, too [insert big bad negative word here].  Back when I signed up to produce a show at my local volunteer theater during a busy hospital rotation, I knew it would be a lot of work.  I understood that rationally.  But I didn’t understand it emotionally, because that requires the lived experience.  So now that I am neck deep in the week from hell, I feel the pain.  This week is the last week of the rotation and it’s also tech week for our show.  The week of multiple exams and nightly intensive tech rehearsals.  The final exam is tomorrow morning; opening night for IN THE NEXT ROOM is tomorrow night.  Almost. There.  I’ve suffered this week.  Not enough sleep, too much caffeine, no yoga, worrying about the theater while in the hospital, thinking about studying when at rehearsal.  On Tuesday night, I almost lost it because my tea kettle wouldn’t started.  I automatically assumed it was another weird power failure and starting screaming with rage (I live for tea – PG tips with milk).  But no, no, I had just forgotten to turn on the kettle.  Wednesday, I had a double americano after morning rounds, hoping to be more alert, but only to be so jittery that I couldn’t speak properly and had to eat 3 Paydays to offset the caffeine.  I’ve been perpetually pissy (from lack of sleep), posting mopey status updates on Facebook looking for sympathy – which only fuels the self-pity cycle, came close to calling an ex, and been unable to concentrate at work.

 I don’t want to rant anymore about all the crappy things that happened this week (ok, maybe just a little more: divorce papers, getting pimped on rounds daily, no clean socks, 0530 wake ups, exams, immigration paperwork marathon, studying for USMLE exam next week, technical difficulties on set).  Instead, I want to give thanks to all the beautiful things I have seen this week.  The actors who take incredible risks on stage to deliver authentically human, soul-barring performances.  The teen patient who looked me dead in the eyes and said “thank you for talking to me, and good luck with med school.”  The friend who sends daily texts counting the days to Friday.  The National announcing a concert in RVA on their upcoming tour.  The bruises from clambering on the rolling bridge in a harness, focusing and gelling lights.  Sarah Ruhl‘s tender, heartbreaking words.  The dude who was blasting some Grizzly Bear by the hospital entrance this morning.  My functioning tea kettle.  The incredibly talented artists on my production crew.  My new super awesome, super warm hat.

It’s easy to focus on the painful parts.  On the person who didn’t hold the elevator even though they saw you running down the hallway.  On your sore back and feet.  On the barista who made your americano too strong.  It’s easy to get stuck on little things and turn them into big things.  But even the big bad days – or bad week – have their beautiful moments.  You might have to pay extra attention, but they are there, ripe for the picking.  You have to pay attention to see them, because if you don’t, you become numb, disengaged, indifferent.  So yes, I’ll take the pain and the grumpiness and the exhaustion because even in the darkest of days, there is beauty and love all around and I don’t want to miss any of it.  I’m paying attention.  And I’m loving everything I see.

Thank you, Universe, for this blessed awareness.

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