Now she is returning to New Orleans to perform and to lead a two-day workshop.
And I can't attend. The second step of my training as an Essential Problem Solving Skills (EPSS)** trainer takes place that weekend.
The synchronicity of this schedule conflict is profound and mysterious. Nothing less than a head-on collision between Artist self and the Other self that I am when I am "away from" Art. The Other who feels by comparison, at different times
The EPSS training is a project of the Other to which the Artist hopes to contribute...eventually.
For some good and practical reasons, the workshop design focuses on the workplace as the primary context for practicing the skills. Workshop participants come mostly from hard-working nonprofit organizations and the EPSS skill set is directly relevant. If I were a trainer, though, I would expand (or change) the design to focus more on "personal life" and "community" settings, using theater-games from my improv workshops (of yore) as vehicles to practice the skills of EPSS.
So I'm not in full-on Artist mode but Art is in the mix.
It's just...faced with the bald facts of my situation -- not available to study with a master performer because I've made a choice to do something practical in Gulfport, MS... It's got me thinking. Or, I guess, just noticing the arrangement of my life these days.
When all is said and done, I said 'yes' to EPSS because it offered a meaningful way to remain a part of the Gulf Coast recovery. We'll see what happens. There are few easy choices and infrequent definitive signs of progress down here. Standing on shifting sands, sometimes you do what your hand can reach.
I met a friend for drinks last night. (This was seven hours after leaving the chiropractor's office and four hours after being rear-ended in traffic...) We laughed when our talk revealed neither of us has a career goal. We are probably typical of many people who came to the South after Katrina. Our goal is to be part of the Recovery, to keep finding ways to be a part of the Recovery. That's what our lives are about for the foreseeable future.
It's a sketchy, complex certainty, thick with issues and questions like where and how to offer what to the rebuilding; how to maintain and sustain ourselves--financially, physically, spiritually, socially; how to discern whether our work is doing any good, having any effect; what to do with who we were and what we loved before we got here.
For me, there is also the reality of the little man in the picture. My grandson. Growing up hundreds of miles away from me. He is a certainty. And a possibility. The knot on his forehead is the result of lots of running toward the future, following his heart on new legs. His gaze is unequivocal. Courageous and interested and true.
I printed a large format copy of this picture today and hung it over my desk. Something about the gaze has pertinent teaching and encouragement for GrammAlee in her current situation.
I also printed this one:
because sometimes life be's like that, too.
**I attended EPSS last spring. The workshop handbook explained:
"The focus of this workshop [is] to introduce...residents of the MS Gulf Coast...to problem solving and conflict resolution skills, in rder to enhance your capacity to work collaboratively and productively in long term recovery efforts... [It] will enhance your capacity to be an effective problem solver with regard to conflicts in your personal life, employment relationships and community."After the workshop, I was invited to join the first class of MS residents to be trained to facilitate future workshops.