My student these last two weeks, M, is happy. She's perhaps the sunniest person I know right now. Not ridiculous Disney-saccharine happy-sunny; her happy is like a pleasant simmer, a continuous pop-rhythm of speaking and moving that belies the terrible things she's experienced.
Every student in this facility has experienced terrible things, horrifying things that decimate and unravel any confidence most reasonable humans could possibly have. But the key to M's happiness is something unstoppable, something no memory, no wrong decision, not even the hint of violence can touch: M is in the middle of a lucky streak. She's getting out in 8 days. Her family has picked up the ball again, working with her therapists and the authorities to work their shit out. She's gone clean, and her best friends are going clean to support her. The play she's writing reflects this sense of momentum, this culminating build to her life.
I've had cause, in the past week of working with M, to consider the nature of lucky streaks, the momentum that overthrows everything in its path, until it doesn't again. I can say nothing to M that will broach this; she doesn't need to hear this, I wouldn't be able to articulate it properly, it's not a necessary discussion and it's not necessarily my job. "There is a tide in the affairs of men..." and so on.
But for myself, I've experienced that tide, several times. It ends when it ends, with nothing to systematically say how or why they do, just as they begin when they begin, without a fair means of predicting their onset. Riding them, or even trying to exploit them at all, has generally yielded indifferent results. Trying to anticipate the end, too, does nothing to alleviate the harshness of the end... witness, for example, how many highly intelligent, sophisticated and eminently reasonable people failed disastrously at anticipating and preparing for the end of the last economic lucky streak, and I don't think that was for want of trying.
This ties into a broader obsession I've had over a great deal of time, now, on the nature of the responsibility of memory, the cumulation of experience that then exerts an inexorable influence on my actions. My day-to-day tempo has predictably slowed; remembering what I've done and why, what I haven't done and why not, seeps into the active moments of doing things and not doing things, in a way that endangers my health, but that I find unavoidable.
In performance, my instinct and my desire now tends to more and more action, physically and emotionally, of greater depth and magnitude, as a way of counterbalancing this instinctive suspension that occurs in the rest of my waking life. Oh, these late 20s...
M's play is finished, and with any luck, nothing will have happened this weekend to undermine her budding momentum. She has a habit of eating as many as 4 pounds of sunkist orangines during our sessions, one after the other, the slices disappearing as quickly as she can speak. By the end of our sessions, she invariably has entire sculptures of orange peels dominating the table.
In the hope of learning something of how to sustain her kind of momentum, I believe I'll take up orangine eating now.