Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturn and the City

After a whirlwind April, May came and brought bronchitis, leaving me with a lot of time in bed, contemplating the universe and my purpose in it.   Free time and cold medicine are never a good combination for me; my mind tends to run even more than my nose.  Monotony + Mucinex = Existential Crisis.

To put all of this in perspective, a brief synopsis of the past month: first, I covered Zemire in Zemire und Azor at Liederkranz Opera.  In the cover “performance,” I realized just how elated I become every time I perform an operatic role.  This role was a big one to learn, but the payoff came at the end of the onerous aria before the finale of the opera.  It was thrilling to bring my own ideas and opinions to the role and make some really exciting musical and dramatic choices.  It was difficult to return to my small speaking role for the remaining performances, almost like a postpartum letdown.   Since the opera closed, I’ve been dwelling on the painful question, “Will I ever get to sing a role again, or am I doomed to be an understudy (at best)?”  Watching friends leave for their prestigious summer apprenticeships feels like extra salt in the wound. 

Meanwhile, as I fear my operatic career has stalled, my day job has ascended to a position with more responsibility and commitment.  I enjoy working in the field of health and weight loss, but it sometimes tempts me to lose sight of my musical aspirations and settle for something less fulfilling, but also less heartbreaking.  I know if I throw in the towel now, I’ll lose the pain of the operatic rejection, but in time, I’ll gain long-term resentment. 

The more these big life issues weigh on my and circle around my ailing head, the more I start to ponder the return of Saturn.  Until recently, I thought Saturn Returns was just an Adam Guettel composition, but it is also said to be an event in a person’s life that takes place around age twenty-eight, when Saturn returns to its original degree in orbit as when the person was born.  This occurrence can bring sobering, critical realities and lead to momentous life choices.  It explains why my Facebook feed is constantly announcing new relationships, engagements, and new babies from everyone my age.   My brother was twenty-eight when he got married and made a significant career commitment as well.  He was the first to tell me about Saturn’s return.  The celebrity deaths that fall into the category “27 Club” are often attributed to this cosmic occurrence as well.  I don’t have any strong opinions regarding the cause of death of Amy Winehouse, but I know I’m feeling a strong pull to make changes in my own life.  Maybe it’s something in the galaxy, maybe it’s something in the pile of bills that keeps growing, but something in me is stirring.

Since I’m often convinced the universe revolves around me, this orbital occurrence is very distressing.  I’m spending a lot of time contemplating my values, priorities, and dreams.  I am not going to blame the galaxy (entirely) on my shortcomings; instead I am going to dedicate myself to mastering my own trajectory.   I’ve probably spent far too much time obsessing over each moment of my previous auditions, but I’m trying to get at the root of what is keeping me from reaching my goal of working as an artist on a more regular basis.  I feel like I’m hitting an invisible wall while singing. Is one of those planetary rings obstructing my path?  I need to play Space Invaders on my own impediments.   While I continue my attempts at bettering myself in front of a casting panel, I also want to cast myself in a completely new project, something that will be tailored to my passions and peculiarities.  I plan to develop this artistic project just as I plan to develop myself as an artist.  Since I am in the planning stages still, I have little more to divulge, but I’m announcing this project to you because telling you and the universe will keep me committed.  After all, once you say something on the internet, it must be true! 

I also plan to use this summer to explore other craters on my little planet.  I am attending retreats to increase my focus on Alexander Technique and improv.  I will refine my spine and my sense of humor.    I also long for some warmth from a son… as in a young single gentleman (from Mars, perhaps?).   I don’t want to explore the final frontier alone.  Even if a summer romance burns out like a white dwarf (hell, he could even BE a white dwarf), it could guide me to the next constellation in my galaxy.   (I wanted to make an astronaut reference at this point, but I worried word play with Tang would be horribly misconstrued.)

If Leonard Nimoy hadn’t spoken at the Boston University College of Fine Arts commencement this past week, I don’t know if I would have looked to the stars for guidance.   With that, I’ll polish off this Milky Way bar, then put one pointy ear to the ground and the other to the sky in order make the best of this orbit.  May we all find our place in this universe as we do our best to live long and prosper.

It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. - Carl Sagan

I'm astounded by people who want to 'know' the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown. - Woody Allen