The Wild Ride
last night i sat in the audience of a theater production that used three women to play one role, had the devil as the narrator, drove the story with constant dancing and live music echoing from banjo, guitar, ukulele, violin and crystalline vocals. yes, the story’s presentation was something amazing to behold, the lights, the sound, the rhythm, but what struck me most was the subject matter of the play. there was a point in the beginning of the show where the devil strikes a deal with the father of a young girl and in so doing tricks the father into giving his daughter to the devil. though the devil cannot have her for she is too pure. the devil forces the father to cut off her hands in attempt to soil her. for the remainder of the show the devil attempts again and again to ruin the purity and strength of her soul with tragedy after tragedy, but, of course, the girl-into-lady-into-woman, constantly prevails. it is the power of the human spirit that we witness in this piece of art and i left the theater seeing the face of this woman in the ladies and gents who walked the rainy berkeley streets.
i got to thinking, why is it that i left the theater seeing this woman’s face in the faces of passersby? there is something so akin to our souls in witnessing another prevail over hardship. though this connection happened because the story was never only sad, there was comedy, irony, play, curiosity and magic mixed into the show – for never is tragedy only tragedy. tragedy is an event, or a series of events, but there is always contrast to it and our human nature finds the miracles and the light set so starkly against the dark. it was the laughter, the comedy, the play woven into the trials that had us able to witness the gravity of that hardship and later the gold in it.
it made me think about myself, going through cancer this past 2011, and coming out of it with more light than i went in with. it made me think about how there is no one on earth that cannot be touched by hardship, for it is a part of being in a body, being in the world and loving others. i sat there in the dark theater realizing i had gone through cancer thinking i had done something wrong, as if i believed had i played my cards differently, i would have never had such a tragedy. but as i watched this young girl dip her hands in two buckets of red paint to symbolize them having been chopped off i realized both she and i didn’t do anything wrong, we experienced grave pain and heartbreak, and… i knew she would come out brighter. yes, it would break her, break her into thousands of little pieces scattered all across the ground, but she, and the rest of us, are built to piece ourselves back together in a way we never would have grown into without it. i do not wish tragedy upon anyone, but i am grateful for the tragedy past and what it has given. pain is not a sign of life being broken or that you messed up, it is a powerful part of being here, it is a sign the world is working, and the beauty is how a human spirit puts itself back together anew. to love a little more, to smile a little bigger, to say thank you one more time and to say yes to the wild ride of life.
the production i am speaking of is called The Wild Bride (trailer) playing at Berkeley Rep through January 22nd