America, STILL the beautiful?

America is a bit of a mess right now. If you don’t know the issues plaguing our Congress, our inner cities, our Veterans, our homeless, our immigrant citizens, our young African American brothers, our women, and our natural environment, among others, then you must be living under a rock! And no offense to those of you who are living under a rock, but the country needs you to wake up from your indifferent slumber, and get informed. Of course, in order to promote change, action is necessary. We need to vote during mid-term, and primary elections, and research, and question the methods of the activists, pacifists, and freedom fighters who came before us so that we know how, and when to act. And we need to investigate the ‘why’ too.

The greatest question that I’m plagued with during these times is why. Why do we need to change, or eradicate our current circumstances? Is it enough to believe that these things “too shall pass”? Is it enough to believe that a historian will document them, and future generations will read about the events, and learn from what has transpired? Is that where we stop? Why do we record these events? To what end? How does the future learn what to never do?

Oddly enough, it’s when I think about all of these questions, that my spirit drifts to a very restful place, and I realize that as a performer, creator, imagination-“evocator”, I have the creative conscience, and artistic authority to produce work that answers the questions of why, and how. And sometimes, I take for granted that I live in America, in a country where I can (limited finances aside) produce work that communicates so many personal, yet universal messages. I could be living in a country that outlaws the creation of work that questions the government, and it’s mandates, work that expresses my mistrust of it’s political and economic system, or my disapproval of the double standard in news reporting, the continuous gender bias in the workplace, or the need for tax reform. But I don’t live in that country. I live in America, where I’m free. Free to speak, free to move, free to dance, and free to create, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

And of course, it isn’t the best version of itself. Yes, I wish I didn’t live in an America populated by citizens who still call African Americans the N-word or replace it with “thug”, who elect officials of power who are supposed to protect it’s citizens but instead inspire fear, and disdain, who reject immigrants, abandon their own children in dumpsters, exoticize women of color, and excuse rapists. America isn’t perfect. It really is a mess. But it’s a mess in progress. It’s a tangle of good, and bad, where the saying rings true, “you can’t appreciate the light if you’ve never seen the darkness.” This land is an almost direct personification of what it feels like to create a piece of theatre, a song, or a film. It’s a heap of the unhealthy things that have been conserved for generations, the new stuff that’s a bit awkward, and the different stuff that makes everything come together. It’s the good, the bad, and the beautiful. So on this day, I’m thankful for the magic of storytelling, and not just any kind of story-telling, but the kind that exists, and grows free of fear, and persecution. I’m thankful for the freedom granted to me to tell the story of the messiness that is America right now. I’m thankful that I live in a country, albeit a broken one, that gives me the right to tell the stories of my particular generation, and to explore the voices of the unheard, past and future.

This isn’t an easy time in which to live, and it isn’t a pleasant place in which to create “pleasant” things, but maybe that’s still a  beautiful place to be; a place where you can take tears, discomfort, pain, anger, and frustration, and turn them into something that heals, awakens, consoles, and forgives.

What beautiful things will the mess inspire you to create?

Many blessings,

Yesenia with a ‘J’ sound