Best known for the Off-Broadway musicals, "The Last Session," "The Big Voice: God or Merman?" and "New World Waking," a song cycle for peace and justice.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Why Shakespeare? Why church music? Why theater? Why anything?

Because they each have a measurably therapeutic effect on my body. And they are adventures!

Writing and singing music saved my life back in 1995 when I unknowingly wrote the score to The Last Session. I know the radiant feeling that happened while singing. While playing While creating. I probably felt it more because I needed it more. But I believe it's common to all of us, this capacity to use our creativity and turn it, like alchemy, into health.

Doing that speech from Richard II. This kid from Buna, Texas never considered he'd ever do something like that. But as I stood in front of that class, that heat came back. It was there. The same thing! I can only imagine what my "readings" would have looked like "before class" and "after class."

Being the tenor in the back row of the church choir, just quietly harmonizing is another source of great therapy for me. I would sing more, like with the gay men's chorus, if I had the strength.

But over the years, I've had to learn my limits. Not that I always obey. But I'm less afraid to say out loud that something is too much for me.

Teaching myself how to cook also gave me those same feelings. Perhaps it's just the act, the thrill of creation, and re-creation. Over and over.

Photo courtesy of iStockphotoGuidoVrola
One always hits valleys. Life is a wave, not a particle, to twisty-quote Dan Bern. So, there are times when you're just trudging up the valley wall. Emotionally, that's when you're most vulnerable. You reach for comfort or distractions that aren't healthy.

And that's part of what Living in the Bonus Round means, as a concept. To do that which makes me healthy, but to do it with adventurous creativity, following that internal, healing heat, the energy to which we all have access.

And when the low times hit, fight on, knowing it will end, and that the effort itself will bring greater personal reward at the top.

But I start by making a decision to live.

And to make it every single day. Or every hour. Or every year. Whatever your rhythm. It always starts there. That you're going to survive. And it becomes a commitment.

It would be fun if it were an easy one-time thing. But, alas and alack, it just don't work that way.


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