Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 33: Genetic make-up

Is there every truly such a thing as a birth? In the sense of something starting completely new, fresh, clean? Everything is a product of something that came before: a baby is the product of its parents; even the phoenix rising from the ashes came from, well, the ashes. Our past -- or our genetic make-up -- determines to at least some extent what we will become.

I have always been an incredibly forward-looking person. I have often bemoaned the fact that I remember so little of my childhood, I think partly because I never stopped to really remember those memories. I feel it happening to me again now, as it is easier in the grief of a divorce to just not remember. I put my memories in a box and pack them away, only looking forward to what I need to do next. This is, eerily, the same thing I said about Anne, the mother in my short play Spirit Dust, when my teacher asked me why it was Anne had packed away all the family memorabilia in a chest, never to be opened. I said she was the kind of person who found it too painful to look at reminders of the past; it was easier just to focus on what had to be done. I had no idea as I spoke those words that I had borrowed that character trait from myself.

My therapist made me realize today that I have done the same thing with my singing. Over the last 2 years as I have been mourning the death of my opera dream and possibly now any sort of singing career dream, I have just not remembered all the great experiences I had singing: all the exhilarating performances, all the technical (and personal) epiphanies, all the soaring musical moments where I was transported to a different realm. She made me unpack some of those memories today, in order to tap into their beauty and bring that beauty forward into my current life, whatever form that my take.

I have to remember who I was in order to figure out who I am becoming. Whether I remain a writer or return to singing or become something else entirely, my opera singing (and my first marriage) will always be a part of who I am. My plays, too, are a product of who I was, and will be richer the more memories I have to draw on.

I have some more boxes to unpack, but there's time. Fortunately I don't have plans to move anywhere.


  1. Hi Natalie!
    I just found your blog via Gretchen Rubin's blog.:-). Thanks for sharing your experience. In reading about your experience of looking forward vs. looking back - especially as it pertains to a divorce - I so relate! I am divorced too - - it was final over a year ago. I, too, work with a therapist and much of my focus is 'moving on', and I like the idea of unpacking the past and looking at it as part of a path of moving forward. I have a box of photos, many of them from my marriage and the early days of my son's life. The box has been unopened for years . . . maybe it's time for me to go through it. I look forward to following your journey on here!

  2. Dear Tracy,

    I am so glad to know that my blog has resonated with you. And I'm sorry for your divorce. Unpacking those boxes can be a little scary, but when I did it with the intention of bringing forward the good aspects of the memories, it was a very joyful experience. It's something I will do more of, when I'm ready.

    Let me know how the process goes for you!