Mon. Feb. 12, 2018: #Upbeat Authors — Love

The topic of today’s Upbeat Authors post, ahead of Valentine’s Day, is love.

While plenty of people bemoan the commercialization of the holiday, there’s more to it to that IF YOU CHOOSE TO DO IT.

I remember, when I was working my way up in theatre, from church basement shows to Broadway, what a big deal Valentine’s Day became. If you were dating someone, there were all these expectations, on both sides. It was a day to prove and to define the relationship. It was also a day of fear – what if the acknowledgement was out of balance with the recipient’s feelings? Those not in a relationship were either depressed or desperate (plenty of one-night stands on Valentine’s Day).

So a bunch of us who didn’t want to be bound or defined by expectations decided to do something different.

We decided that one should celebrate one’s loving relationship by the strength of daily actions. And that Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating the relationships that don’t often get celebrated, such as friendships, strong relationships with co-workers, etc. We would give each other funny little gifts or candy, and go out as a big group to celebrate EACH OTHER. It wasn’t focused on couples, although couples were included; it was about all of us being glad we were in each other’s lives, and taking note of it to celebrate, to make sure we weren’t taking each other for granted.

Were there still some of the relationship pressures? Of course.

But love takes many forms – romantic love, family love, strong and loyal friendships, even some work relationships that aren’t quite friendship, but are deeper and more complicated than “just business.” All of those deserve celebration.

We also worked for inclusion – we wanted to make sure no one felt alone. Working in theatre, that tends to happen anyway. We are a tight group and look after our own, even if we don’t always get along every moment of every day. Most of us were the outsiders growing up, or in the communities into which we were born; so the artistic community we CHOOSE does not shun people for being artistic, intelligent, or different. We BUILD our families.

That’s the big difference between living someplace like New York or San Francisco or Chicago of wherever, and living in a more isolated community (that the right mistakenly calls “real America.” Cities are just as “real” as any other community). In cities, people choose their families and their communities. Literature, especially some of the genre-focused category literature, claims that cities are impersonal and cruel. My experience has been quite the opposite. Rural communities are often stuck with those too afraid to leave; cities are built by those who choose to be there. Living in cities, we fantasize about moving out to a smaller community for a “quiet” life. The reality rarely measures up to the fantasy. It’s hard to find that balance. It’s hard to move from a place where you choose your tribe to a place that defined the tribe by place and birth years before you got there and continues to do things “the way they’ve always been done” rather than balancing a respect for tradition with the need for evolution.

So, this coming Valentine’s Day, take a minute to let the people in your life know they matter. And offer a hand of friendship or at least understanding to someone who needs it. The positive results will surprise you.

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Published in: on February 12, 2018 at 6:32 am  Comments (1)  
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

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Cape Cod View

From a landlocked country to an open sea view — and, more importantly, fresh sea air after a week of being in a place where 99.9% of the people around you are chain smokers.

I’m headed to the Cape today. On today’s agenda is The National Marine Life Rescue Center, hopefully checking into a hotel in Sandwich, and buying some fabric in Hyannis. I’m sure I’ll stop at the bookstores while I’m there.

And then, a no doubt early dinner at the Beehive Tavern, since I’m still ridiculously jet lagged.

I miss my father’s best friend, a history and linguistics professor who taught for decades at McGill University in Montreal. He was my father’s best man at my parents’ wedding in Montreal in 1952, and he and my father used to go out drinking. He spoke 7 or 8 languages, and had a wonderful personality, Even as a small child, I adored him, and he always was generous and humorous with me. I remember almost everything he told me, so I can only imagine how great he was with his students.

He was from Yugoslavia, and had fought in the Resistance. He was very politically aware and adept, and had a large circle of European ex-pat friends around him in Montreal.

He would have been a wonderful resource, both before the trip and after, helping process it.

I always thought he died of cancer. I was stunned when my mom corrected me– he committed suicide, slitting his wrists in the tub one day while his wife was at the market.

A bit of a shock.

Devon

Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 1:08 am  Comments (3)  
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