The World Needs More of You

Last week I stood in line for three hours at Park Square for dollar tickets to Ragtime.  While in line, tired and jammed next to the waiting masses, I consoled myself with lyrics from the show.  Because, friends, there was a time when I knew them all.  There was a time when I got on a bus with my high school choir and traveled from Marquette, Michigan to the big city of Chicago to see the Broadway touring production of Ragtime.  Truth: I pretty much listened to the album on repeat for a couple of years.

I brought with me to the show this wench, who was once equally in love with musicals.

I admire many things about Alexa, including her mouth size (photo by Stacy Schwartz)

The show was directed by a former, beloved college professor of ours, and we felt very proud (and shed many tears) from our fourth row seats.  My heart was pretty much on fire– for the story, the heartfelt musical numbers, the quiet moments.

And then I started realizing how strange it is: I no longer belt showtunes, or sing in German, after spending years performing.  I could tell you a dozen geeky facts about Sondheim musicals, and find a quote of his to answer every life dilemma, but my musical theatre days are a thing of the past.  (Except *cough* for that upcoming gig choreographing Guys and Dolls.) So, um, were those just wasted years?

I’m not alone in having a past life.  We all have experiences (and training) that we sometimes forget about, skills we once honed, but don’t directly use, and old obsessions (or hidden ones).  After thinking about it, I’ve decided that they are probably the best parts of our creative endeavors and businesses.  I don’t think that any of those experiences were in vein.  When acknowledged and utilized, they allow your audience or client to see more of you- what you love and connect with and know- and that’s the whole reason that they are seeing your art or working with you in the first place.  

Alexa, for instance, used to be a theatre director, and now is a photographer.  Her experience with performance and crafting a stage picture feeds directly into her photography.  And, her obsession with live music (namely, Bruce Springsteen) gives her music photography so much energy.

My sister, Lisa, spent years as a ballet dancer, and now uses her knowledge of the body (and experiences with injury) in her Cranial Sacral Therapy practice.  And, our friend Jess’ writing and theatre training are total assets to the advertising agency she works for.

As I’m jumping into new endeavors, I’m thinking carefully about where I am and where I’ve been.  Rather than panicking about years spent on other pursuits or skill sets I wish I had, I’m trying to figure out how to identify and utilize what I have.   I’m asking:

 Where have I been?

 What did I gain from this experience?

 How is this applicable to where I am today/what I’m attempting to do now?

Once you have this, it’s about finding simple ways to infuse this into your endeavors.  Maybe, like Emma, you include details about the things you love (film!) on your website.  Maybe, like Ben, you talk with clients about how your past experiences influence your work (Ben was trained as an actor, and now a videographer for live theatre).  Or, maybe you use your past life as fuel for your creative process, like my mathematician-turned-choreographer friend, Elsie.

Infatuation is exciting.  So is authenticity.  People want to experience YOU, and your passion for life.  I’m realizing that much of what I value about my past experiences is that they made me realize what makes me heart catch on fire.  And, that’s pretty invaluable.

{You can catch Ragtime at Park Square until February.  It’s pricy.  And worth it.}


One thought on “The World Needs More of You

  1. Dude! Yes! Love! What a great night. Also, I’m still pretty in love with musicals 🙂 (Though I’m convinced every musical could be made better with shoe shine veggie wraps…)

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