I sat on the stage of the bar as the Irishman screamed to the right of me: “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”
A friend walked up and whispered, “What are you writing?”
“Didn’t know you were a poet,” he responded and sat down to watch the rest of rehearsal.
I thought to myself, “I haven’t been one for 10 years.”
On a human life time scale 10 years may not seem like a lot.
The age 22 to 32 though is almost as different as the age of 12 to 22 (though I guess there is more legal drinking in those 10 years, and other behaviors you probably don’t want a 12 year old doing). And yet, upon reflection that Sunday, I realized that I had finally reengaged my creative side this last year of living in Cambodia after 10 years of ignoring it.
I work hard and read. In the US, that was basically the main thrust of my days.
Here in Cambodia I am also active in theater, I write short stories and poems in my journals, and I play Dungeons and Dragons. These are each something that were big parts of my young life that I remember consciously deciding, “Let me put away these ‘childish things'”.
It started first with Dungeons and Dragons. When I was in my 20’s, it was hard to get others interested in playing, and I was never one to lead the game. At the same time I thought, girls won’t like me if I play D&D. So I gave the few books I had bought to my brother and went on with my life. In part because I had the outlet of theater and writing still.
Next came theater. When my undergraduate studies ended I found myself for the first time in 10 years having to seek out a theater community. I was at the time performing with friends in a sketch comedy group and got a lot of satisfaction out of that. So I decided, I won’t look for community theater just yet. Then as my time in Boston moved on and the sketch comedy group ended, I found myself surrounded by work, and I never quite picked up theater again.
Last to go was writing. I always have had a writing bug of some sort. I love how people interact with each other, and part of what I love about theater and D&D is to see how different personalities interact without real consequence. So I still wrote some, but not a lot, and as the years passed and I moved from country to country, moved from first jobs to graduate school to more intense job, I made myself believe that I was still getting my creative energies out else where. I really, truly believed it.
Then I moved here.
One of the things Alyssa and I talked about was finding creative spaces when we moved to Cambodia. I agreed, and then went looking for a job. Alyssa had laid the ground work unintentionally though for me to refind my creativity by choosing the place we ended up spending our first month in. The day we showed up the main person for the house was spray painting something.
“We’re making a giant dildo for Rocky Horror!” he said gleefully.
Instead of being shocked or put off, I asked earnestly, “When’s the show?”
I worked and hung out with the few friends I had made. Then one of them, someone from the house we first lived in, messaged me: “Sam. You going to auditions for Streetcar Named Desire?”
I paused. This was a creative thing I could do. I knew I could do this… I think… lets see. What’s the worst that could happen? So I auditioned.
And was cast as 1 of 6 people. I worked hard having forgotten how difficult it is to memorize lines. After being cast we had 5/6 weeks to put on the show, so it was a lot of work. I was rusty, but as time went on I remembered more and more of what friends and former teachers had taught. We put on the show and it was amazing.
Me during rehersal for MacBeth
Near the end of the show, another friend from the same house asked, “You want to play D&D?” I asked Alyssa if she’d like to try and she said sure. I got so excited and knew that this was the right decision.
Alyssa was at first hesitant as D&D is a fairly complex game, but due to the creativity of the DM and the semi-regular play schedule, it’s become a great creative outlet for me, and a great place for me also do some self-inspection.
Friend draws his character in DnD session
Then this year began and the dam broke. Since I’ve returned from my trip home in December and January, I’ve been in two plays and played probably a weeks worth (collectively time wise) of D&D. I’ve had 1000 ideas for stories and poems. I’ve only been able to write a fraction of them down, but when I do I’ve found that what I was missing for the last ten years was this release. I’ve also joined an online writing community as well as blogged a lot more often than before this year.
What I found was, by putting my creative activities, no matter how silly they seemed, to the side, I had stopped being completely me. By putting them to the side, I was embracing a childish idea that because these weren’t serious pursuits, ie pursuits that made me money, then I shouldn’t partake in them so I could become an “adult”. Moving here has helped me pick up those “childish things” again and realize why I loved them so. For the release, for the effort, and for the camaraderie that is gained.