Don't Throw Out Much Ado the Way You Did Hamlet

There are days when you realize what a pointless suburban existence you lead. And suddenly you feel rather stupid for having cared so much about all the things you've been worrying about and you look up and you see the sun and crystalline azure sky and you feel the glorious possibility of it all. Yes, you will get that role. Yes, you will get that job. Yes, you will find that apartment and move out and be blissfully happy. Because these are such simple things, such a part of the lives of every other member of the human race who has had to grow up and survive that terrifying transition from teenager to twenty something, youthful naiveté to the old-too-fast cynicism of those adjusting to the rat race of work and bills and life as we know it in a capitalist society where, much as you'd like to, you can't really go live in a hut and eat berries for the rest of eternity without some serious social ramifications. And then, quickly as it came, that same crystalline azure sky turns from grand to mocking. Mocking you in it's simplicity and beauty as you agonize over what to eat so that you keep losing weight; as you go over that song for the next audition again and hear all the mili-second long pitch wavers and the ever-so-slightly off phrasing and the few catch breaths you have hidden not-so- well in the midst of it all. And you start to think maybe you don't know the monologue as well as you should, and you aren't eating quite what you should be (you know, it would have fewer carbohydrates if you had made the sandwich on different bread), and the song doesn't show quite as much of your range as it should and it's not as powerful in the strongest parts of your range as it should be, and maybe that job isn't quite as much of a sure thing as it should be. And maybe you really are inexorably turning into Desiree Armfeldt, doing stock productions of shows everyone in creation has seen a million times and falling hopelessly in love with another woman's husband whom you've had countless affairs with without ever thinking that maybe you kept coming back to each other because you needed something from being together, and not just the physical. But now the only roles left are Celemine for the hundredth time and the only man left you that you love is married to an 18-year-old twit who means well but wouldn't know adult love from her valise.

And then you think, no. Stop being maudlin. You're 19, if anything you are much more like Anne, the dim but good-natured child-bride, than Desiree anyway. And surprisingly, or maybe not, that thought isn't comforting either. So those are my options? Be washed up and realizing how many things I've left pass me by or be young and have everything but not be able to see it? Or be like Charlotte and be hopelessly in love with an unfaithful oafish barbarian who refuses to see the goddess of fabulousness that you truly are? I don't think I like that. And in the swirling internal monologue (or polylogue really, since you're arguing with yourself by this point) that clear blue sky stops mocking you and suddenly yells "DON'T YOU GET IT?!?!?!?! If you'd stop trying to decide who you are at this precise moment than maybe, just maybe, you could get something done so that you can BE who you are instead of thinking about it. Life isn't a soufflé. You don't have to be constantly agonizing over whether it's going to fall. It's more like a stew, it always tastes a little green at first and the longer the left overs sit in the fridge the better they taste. Your stew is still on the stove chick. All the ingredients aren't even in yet so just calm down!"

"But…. "

"No, no buts." You're cut off before you can protest that the sky is arguing with you. "Stop thinking for once and just do what you need to. Don't paralyze yourself with your constant need for over analysis."

"Analysis is what allows you to make a well-informed decision. It is the basis of the scientific method."

"Hello!! You're an artist! Why are you preaching to me about the scientific method?????"

"Just because I can appreciate an analytical approach to things doesn't make me less of an artist."

He scoffs. "No wonder your muse is scared of you. Half the time the poor thing thinks that if whatever she inspires you with might not be logically fool proof you'll throw it out the window like last year's bad chardonnay."

You blink, unsure of what to say. "Wait wait wait, you're telling me I have a muse? Then why do I sit here completely incapable of writing something when I feel like it, or incapable of making a character come to me even though I want to?"

Slowly he shakes his head and rolls his eyes slightly heavenward. "Because you're throwing away some of her best stuff you know. She's given you things that, in the hands of a true artist and not a biologist in musicians clothing, could have been the next Hamlet, the next Brandenburg Concertos, the next…. the next… Lion King!"

Blink. "Hamlet, the Brandenburg Concertos, and the LION KING?? I don't think I want to listen to anymore of your rantings on art if you put those three in the same category."

"Okay so Lion King was a bad example. Pretend I said…. A Little Night Music." You stop and think. "Okay, so you're telling me that if I were more talented I could have written my three favorite pieces of all time?"

"Precisely, pumpkin."

"Don't call me pumpkin."

"Sorry." You both pause while you wait for his response. "But yes, you have the muse to do it, if you stop thinking about everything so damned much."

"I don't believe that! Besides, how the hell could Shakespeare and Bach and Sondheim have written such complicated pieces with so many layers without analyzing it from a million angles in the process?"

"The layers are already there, the muse gave them all the layers. They just had to let it happen."

"Well by that estimation I'm not really an artist and neither were Shakespeare or Bach or Mozart or Kandinsky or… anyone! We're all just conduits for some crazed creativity fairy who gets pissed if we think too much! The muse gets nervous if I analyse things because I might actually do something MYSELF and not just spew out her little vision! Screw that!"

"Well…. " He clears his throat. "To be fair, Kandinsky was just a little off. None of the muses had to do much for him. And you're missing my point."

"Oh am I?" Your expression becomes imperious. This is all so ridiculous. Imagine trying to be told that the greatest artists the world has ever known were just being used by these frustrated little creativity pixies flitting around.

"Yes, you are. Like all artists you seem to be convinced you know everything about your art and how it's created."

Arms crossed, you eye him suspiciously. "I thought I was a biologist in artist's clothing."

"Do you want my help or not?"

He seems serious. Damn. "Alright alright alright. So if I'm just the hand that's being guided by some wacked out Tinkerbell with creative impulses what am I supposed to do?"

"Well first off, she doesn't like being compared to Disney characters so knock that off."

"Yeah yeah, fine."

"And second, you are completely looking at this wrong. You're not just the hand that's being controlled by the muse. It's a partnership. You can't do it without her and she can't do it without you."

"So I'm codependent on a fairy? Is this what you're telling me?"

Frustrated, he turned to leave. "You know what? I was right! You really do have the heart of a scientist. You don't understand art or creation or partnership or anything and there is NO POINT in wasting a muse on you. Go be a history major and leave me out of this."

"Wait!!!" He stops. Shit, now that you've stopped him what do you say? "You're wrong you know. I'm not a scientist and I do understand creation I'm just… a little… resistant."

"Resistant is putting it mildly."

"Alright so I'm stubborn and pig headed and self centered and I refuse help when I need it and I'm a huge pain in the ass and I can't create because I paralyze myself with all these unnecessary restrictions I put on myself. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANTED TO HEAR???"

He smiles softly and pats your arm. "Good lord, you really are an artist. Only someone who is creative could spew that kind of rant on a moment's notice."

"Thank you?"

He laughs, and you find yourself joining in. "It's a compliment."

You raise your eyebrows. "So I just have to stop thinking so much?"

"Exactly pum-- dear."

"Fine. At this point I'm willing to try it."

"Good girl." He puts his hand on your shoulder and rubs it gently. "Now you just go back and wait for the muse. She'll need some time to be sure that you're not going to toss Much Ado out the way you did Hamlet. Proverbially speaking of course."

And then you're back in your neurotic little world, trying to be slightly less neurotic. That line reads wrong, that breath is in the wrong place, that phrase needs to be more legato. But somewhere in the back of your mind is the voice of the sky, and you stop yourself before you spiral into analysis paralysis, because you don't want to throw out Much Ado the way you did Hamlet.

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