“The sage acts by doing nothing.” ~ Tao Te Ching chapter 2
The fall semester has begun which means I’m busier than ever. It’s hard to believe that I’m beginning my twelfth year of teaching at the college. Where has the time gone?
Needless to say after all those years of teaching the same subject, I was getting burned out. I needed new ideas, a fresh perspective on how to engage with my students and help them understand the basics of theatre. Which is why, looking back I don’t really understand my decision to put extra work onto myself by directing a play. This was back in the spring of 2017. Remember THAT spring, the spring the Harvey Weinstein case broke leading to so many other revelations. The reverberations keep going. Ironically the play that kept nagging at me the previous fall was Measure for Measure, Shakespeare’s version of a MeToo situation.
To be honest, I was in over my head. I’d never directed a Shakespeare play before, not to mention the way the college had the performance class set up. There was not enough rehearsal time. I knew I was beating my head against a brick wall but something kept egging me on.
Then out of the blue, Dave Dahl contacts me. He’s a 25 year theatre professional, and he had done Measure for Measure seven times. What was even better, he’s a student of Shakespeare, and had a shortened version of the script. He wanted to help me with the production.
If that’s not serendipity, I don’t know what is!
The students and I felt blessed and grateful for Dave’s help. The play was a success. This began our professional collaboration. I asked Dave to be a guest artist and work with my acting students both semesters last year. Not only did the students love him, but I got that boost of new energy I’d been looking for.
As the year progressed, Dave and I talked about the fact that the area where we live is a kind of black hole for theatre. There are non-professional theatre troupes, but none of them have a permanent home. It’s a struggle for them to get funding, space to rehearse and perform, and even to get actors. But in the last few years there has been a new enthusiasm for the arts. It’s small, but growing. Dave and I wanted to help nurture this trend. So, we made plans and then went to my department chair to pitch our ideas, beginning with revamping the class schedule to make room for more rehearsal time for the performance class. Dave had enough education and experience to take over that class. A position was opened for him before the end of the spring semester, he applied, and then we waited. And waited.
The position closed sometime in July, but no word from the college. Then Dave got a rejection letter. I panicked and contacted my department chair. There was a mix-up. Dave resubmitted his paperwork, but it was one week before the beginning of the semester and I was wondering if I would end up directing another Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night, with little time to prepare.
Fortunately play rehearsals are not scheduled to begin until October, but still, with one week before the beginning of the semester and no word about whether Dave was hired or not we were getting antsy.
I had done lots of work, plotting out rehearsals and performances, checking out the rooms needed. Spreading the word about the changes to the theatre offerings so we could do one play each semester. Barry created a flyer for auditions, which we distributed. Dave had worked all summer on cutting the play and the musical and technical aspects required to produce it. If I had to direct, I was way behind the curve.
The day of the associate faculty convocation came and still no word. I couldn’t meditate that morning, nor concentrate on my work. I was so agitated. Finally, I stopped and asked the ethers for help. This is the message I got, “Do nothing.” In my inbox that day, my daily inspirational message from Neale Donald Walsch was just that. Sometimes, his message reminded me, it’s best to sit back and allow the universe, or God, or Spirit, to do the work for you. This idea of non-action was not new to me. It comes from the Eastern faith traditions. I’ve used the technique before, but I certainly needed a reminder that day.
So, I comforted Dave and said, we should sit back and wait. My dean told me he’d look over Dave’s paperwork when he had time. I knew he was busy getting the semester off to a good start.
Yesterday, on the fourth day of the semester, Dave got word from the college that he is hired! The background checks and paperwork process has begun. Whew, are we ever grateful.
Before I met Dave, I was ready to quit teaching and just concentrate on writing. Meeting him has presented me with a new direction. I’m definitely not giving up writing, but in a way, it feels like I need to give one last effort for theatre in my town. I don’t know where it will lead, but I’m willing to help the theatre program at our college grow. Maybe our efforts, Dave’s and mine, will help the administration see the value of all the art offerings at the college. After all there is more to life than making money to live on. We all need some kind of creative outlet to make life worth living.
Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. Enjoy the end of summer.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.
The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.
2 thoughts on “Sometimes it’s Best to do Nothing!”
Doing nothing is the perfect advice in so many situations. I”m so glad it all worked out for you and your energy around this venture is evident. To me that’s everything when it comes to knowing if you’re on the right path or not. We so need the arts and people like you and Dave who are willing to bring them to us. Thank you for your valuable efforts in this regard. Writing sometimes takes front and center and sometimes we need to live to have something to write about!
Dorothy, Sometimes it feels like I’m an alien. But I’m finding more people who appreciate or want to participate in the arts. That gives me hope.