I was reminded last week, amidst the bustle of rehearsals for our I Am Jim Thompson reading as well as returning from a weekend away; day job work here in town; and all the other stuff of life, just how important it is to take time off. Not out connecting with friends... off. Not surfing facebook... OFF. How draining it can be to be an actor... to cram into a week the exploration of a character who doesn't have the happiest of journeys... not to mention a journey for which I've got baggage packed and ready to go. I'm not sure the body knows the difference between the emotions we experience onstage and those we do in real life (provided, I suppose, that those onstage are more than surface-level). Emotion is chemical, after all, which is one way to explain why we fall into life patterns and relationship patterns: we become addicted, or at least accustomed, to the chemicals we are used to receiving. But who is to explain to those chemicals that on Sunday night I would be having grievous fights with my significant other, but don't worry, they're not real?
It wasn't until I couldn't string a sentence together last Saturday morning that I realized I'd pushed it too far, and it wasn't until that night after a three-hour nap and some QT staring at the wall that I started to come around. Why do we let ourselves get that far out of whack?
In The Artist's Way, a wonderful book/process by Julia Cameron that I followed some years ago, she writes of the creative life and ways to work through the obstacles that keep us from being the creative geniuses we're meant to be. When we create, however we do it, we draw on our inner reserves of energy and flow and genius or whatever you want to call it. We take what we need from what we've got stored up, like a well or a bank account, and spend it on what we're making. But equally important to this process is making deposits back into the account; soaking up some soulful goodness; refilling the proverbial well.
So I've spent this week in recovery mode: getting a massage, working the puzzle, going yarn shopping. I had a few glasses of wine and listened to The Tobolowsky Files. I even let myself get bored.
Because I figured that if I had gotten so far out of balance the other way, I probably needed more refill time than I originally would have gauged. And I was right -- it wasn't til this morning that I was rarin' to go, exercising, working on my script, writing this post. So for awhile I may need to let the pendulum swing, until I start to learn what the first warning signs are... all the ones that come before I'm dragging my comatose carcass around.
How about you: What are your warning signs? How do you refill the well?