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the thunder of the silence. [merely-a-thought monday]

TPAC empty seats

“…a silence like thunder…”

“no distinction is made between the sacred and the everyday.”

“our attitude toward the world resonates in the objects around us.  they reveal our intention.”

(from plain and simple, sue bender)

the first day i walked into the tiny lobby at TPAC i wondered why the table holding brochures was light blue.  it matched nothing there and was a statement of a kind of thoughtless we-need-a-small-table-does-anyone-have-one thoughtfulness.  all season long i kept thinking that it should be painted black.  the very last day in the theatre, outside in the chill air, surrounded by golden and crimson leaves, i painted it.  it dried fast and we placed it back in the lobby.  still the same little table doing its job, but its new distinction mattered and it fit in the space.  it did my heart good.

with multiple bags of old mayonnaise and mustard, an old container of kale and a moldy loaf of some kind of unidentifiable home-baked bread, i finished cleaning out the fridge, an appliance i had never opened for an entire season.  clearly, others had, and the accumulation of old-ness was ripe.  i scrubbed it out and stood back to look at how neat and tidy it was.  the whole kitchen area looked neat and tidy, a new keurig replacing an old coffeemaker and broken carafe.  shelves cleaned, toothpicks that had poured out swept up, a welcoming backstage entrance for staff and artists.  moving that space up to sacred-everyday from messy-everyday did my heart good.

the last couple weeks have been nesting weeks at TPAC, moments when d and i have had the space to ourselves.   having now passed through the shoulder season, it’s empty and it’s quiet.  the 250 seats wait for the next event, the off-the-shoulders season, the next new high season.  i can feel its curiosity, its expectation.

we sat in various seats around the theatre, talking about the dreams we had when we first saw it.  getting mired in the muck of being the you-aren’t-from-here-newbies had slowed things down.  it had paused our ownership of the actual space.  eh, who am i kidding?  it brought most of that to a screeching halt.  drama, three board presidents and a reticence to consider change from people hired as change agents (us) brought the gate down before we could even start.

we discovered the word ‘glacial’ and applied it generously to the direction we were going.  we didn’t try to change a space that didn’t feel like ours yet.  we didn’t try to change too many processes.  we stopped trying to change mindsets.

instead, we embraced people.  we listened; we learned.  we set out to weave relationships where they had eroded, where tattered feelings were wrung out, where we were told no relationship could work.  we befriended those we were told would never like us.  we struggled to understand allies who weren’t so much allies.  with deep roots of experience, we led with intention, with the questions of what would be best for this space, what would be best for the artistry on this little island, what would be long-lasting and truly make the making of art – whatever the genre – foremost?

and so, it was in the last days, when it was quiet and empty that we were able to take the time to really listen to the thunder of the silence of that really beautiful space.  we strove to honor the sanctity of this art-making place.  and we intended, with every move of cleaning and straightening and re-arranging and planning and yes, dreaming, all the best things we could.  it did my heart good.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

bootsbythestage website box


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conversation. [merely-a-thought monday]

where you can actually hear copy

we started our day with mimosas.  the up-north-gang was in cedarburg and we descended upon the stagecoach inn’s pub, a place built in 1853, dedicated to their bed & breakfast.  we sat at wood and iron tables surrounded by vintage stone and brick walls and chatted away a very fast almost-two-hours.  we hadn’t ever been at this little pub before to start our winterfest fun.  but it was perfect and it was an easy choice when the day was over and we stopped back there to sip wine or old-fashioneds (a wisconsin staple), review the parade and bed races on the river and talk about any old thing.  i grabbed a brochure (because i, well, love brochures) and looked at it later at home.  “where you can actually hear your conversation” the little pub (named the five20 social stop) advertised.  it was true.  it was refreshing to be able to actually have a conversation and hear each other.

we do our best work in the woods.  d and i will take a walk and solve things that have stymied us.   the quiet, the beauty – it’s centering and it removes all the interruptions of home-office-work.  it offers us a chance to actually have a conversation and hear each other.

at this point, i don’t know what it would take for this world, this country, our state, our community to actually have conversations and hear each other.  so many seem to be yelling, reacting.  certainly not conversing.  it’s tempting to turn off the news app on my phone, but i don’t want to bury my head in the sand.  and yet, lately, this earth seems oddly tilted on its axis, bent on anger and strife, inflated egos, name-calling, exponential self-serving, and pointed blame.  it’s all so toxic.  where is the listening going on?

i would think about suggesting mimosas and a walk in the woods but, with all the noise out there, i don’t know who would hear me.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

boots on frozen river cedarburg website box