A member of my former congregation announced that she's going off to seminary next year. I'm excited for her. For all sorts of reasons, not the least that she gets to experience Chicago, which I still feel is "my city."
I'm also jealous.
(And not just because I miss Chicago.)
Because I miss that feeling of calling.
For most of my life I had that certainty that I was called to this profession. I started to act when I was in first grade, and I felt that the stage was the place I belonged. I kept that feeling throughout the crazy years of middle school and I tribute the Davis Discovery Center for keeping me relatively sane in high school.
I started writing in the Fort Hayes Black Box Theatre program. And it wasn't a change of calling, but a refining that calling. It was uncovering a deeper part of myself. I was a playwright. That calling took me to NYU and helped me find the Theatre School at DePaul University.
I never felt so purposeful as I have writing In Common Hours. Here I was writing a play that I had been wanting to write for four years or so...and it was realized in production. The whole experience was really rewarding. I was doing what I loved, and told a story from my heart that others connected to. People both laughed and cried at that show. I knew I had found my calling as a storyteller, specifically as a playwright, because I loved that process of storytelling with a bunch of others.
Then I graduated and I've been lost ever since.
I'm still in the profession. I have a job that supports me and my cat. I'm still writing in a professional context, and I'm even a regional representative for the Dramatists Guild.
I've had a few flashes of that sense of calling. The two weeks I spent at the Kennedy Center two years ago. The weekends of the playwright development program. The Naked Stage's Annual 24 Hour Theatre Project.
Most of the time though, I'm floundering, trying to rejoin that sense of purpose.
I've wondered if a calling can stop, and if I should devote my energies elsewhere.
I poured my energies into my job. I've accomplished at lot of good things, and I'm particularly proud about bringing Free Night of Theater to South Florida. But pride in my work did not fulfill me the way writing used to.
Then I threw myself into Unitarian Universalism at my former congregation. I thought if I just worked hard enough and with enough dedication, I could help call people to the higher purpose that I think Unitarian Universalism is here for. That whole experience exploded in my face, which is why my former congregation is my former congregation.
Which leaves me still here, wondering what my higher purpose is. On days when I'm stressed, I joke that I want to run away and work for Sesame Street. Or I remember Avenue Q and think no one really knows what their purpose is, really.
But I miss that certainty.
Maybe I can get it back if I manage to create a theatre of joy. Maybe I can get it back if I work more on my play about time traveling art thieves. Maybe I can try to get it back through prayer. Because I miss that connection. I miss that deeper sense of self.