Arms Full of Odds and Ends, 2012
December 9th, 2012

My first thought is that there’s no way we’re at the end of the year already. I know it’s coming because Thanksgiving is mostly digested, the real winter weather is finally settling in, weekends are spent splitting firewood with my father, and I have no clue what I want for Christmas. My second thought contradicts the first one: I find it hard to believe that the contents of this past year were actually packed into twelve months. It feels like two distinctly separate years. 2012 held the same number of minutes and hours as most years, but the quality of those minutes and the etched reliefs they left behind render me profoundly grateful for their passing.

I spent most of 2011 searching. My mind had been blown open the summer before by my three-months’ enrollment in the University of Barter Theatre which was followed by a year of digging for answers to simple questions beginning with “what is” or “why?” I lived the first nine months of that year in my parents’ spare room, designing websites to pay (most) of the bills and cautiously seeking acting work; cautiously, because everything I thought I knew about acting had recently been crammed with dynamite and dispersed across the greater southwest region of Virginia. As I slowly pieced together the alternative with which I was left, excitement and restlessness began setting in. New ideas, glimmers of answers to some of those impossibly simple but vital questions. Why do people come to see plays? Why do we make them? What is this thing called “story?” It wasn’t the glimmer of possible answers that propelled me to pack up and move back to Abingdon in October of last year, it was the lack of answers, the need to continue resolving those questions. Something changed during those months, though I didn’t realize it until later: getting acting work was no longer my golden, halo-encircled goal-on-high; instead, it was replaced with the need to find answers, to explore and explain to myself what in the world this thing is.

Now we’re caught up to this year. Back on January 4th, I moved into a room at the Barter Inn and got a contract for production intern–specifically run crew for the 39 Steps remount. I wasn’t acting, but I had the privilege of studying those enormous little questions from a base full of prime resources. Lots of idea-seeds were planted since the summer of 2010 and the ground of this past year is littered with sprouts, each of which I’d love to showcase, but they’re all just little pieces of something far greater which remains to be discovered. Point is, lots of really good things this year.

That brings us to the present. A few days ago I had another one of those rare, enlightenment moments that transformed my view of this work we do and the arts in general. As with every other one before it, it has actually made my work harder–I now have more to define and explore than ever before, and I’m thrilled. Thankfully, after the second week of January, I will get to study and chart this exploration from the campus of the Barter Theatre once again, and I couldn’t think of a better equipped laboratory or a more encouraging, like-minded, and equally-charged array of fellow navigators.

The end of the year is upon us, we’ve finished the leftover turkey, it’s cold outside and my sides are sore from stacking firewood…and what do I want for Christmas? Looking back over this past year and into the next, I really couldn’t ask for anything more. Maybe a Coke.

We’ve still got a few weeks left, but just in case we’re right about the Mayans: cheers, 2012. Onward we sail.