At Son of Semele Ensemble we’ve just put the play CIVILIZATION by Jason Grote into production. The thing it’s pretty much entirely about is my life and yours too. (Also, I was the dramaturg.)
Through the last few entries I’ve been leading to a point of trying to explain the sensation of balancing my life on the toes of one foot. My safe ground has fallen away until now there’s just a patch under me where I can be without feeling like I’m imposing on other people. I feel hemmed in, compromised and stressed out.
And there’s nothing really special about me. All around me, every where I go, people are getting squeezed in much the same way. I don’t have to work hard to find people stressed out by bills, unable to get ahead in their careers, unable to find full time work, unable to get to a point where they can take a full, unencumbered breath and stand on two feet like a fully realized human being.
Even as a society we look around and easily people who have it worse than we do. We’re not in a war zone, we’re not living in the midst of toxic material (actually, we created that toxic material, most of the time), our strife is nothing like slavery or institutionalized sexual exploitation or a lack of access to education or mass censorship. We can learn whatever we want, say whatever we want, say yes or say no to sex whenever we want and in theory merit is the only thing that lands or limits employment – not race or creed or gender….
And yet. And yet… and yet it’s so fucking hard. how? Why? What the hell happened that got all this chaos going, and not in the ordered way of society that we were told we’d get back when we were in school?
We ask those questions and self-appointed authorities try to step in and explain it all. They promise pathways out. They claim they’ll teach us how to anticipate things that could go wrong. Or tell us who or what is to blame. (We really like that last one.)
But in actuality the questions are rhetorical. It doesn’t matter how we got here, or it doesn’t matter that much. Because asking that question betrays the longing for things to “go back to normal.” And that is never going to happen.
What the thing is, the thing IS. More importantly, the course of events aren’t going to slow down and wishing they would go in reverse is so ridiculous it’s almost insane.
KAREN: Do you ever feel like you’re made for something different than everyone else.
DAVID: Everyone feels that way. That’s why life is so disappointing.
But when we’re upset – okay, when I’m upset – childish reactions are to be expected. I pout and blame others and ask unhelpful questions like “WHYYYY??” and complain about life being unfair.
Our civilization seems to be made of supposed adults running around not at all sure how things got to be like this and holding on to the deep seated feeling that it’s not supposed to be this hard.
CIVILIZATION is a terrific look at life this very minute, on the last patch of ground we feel we can own. We’re all losing our balance in real time. Our civilization is falling apart and the only good thing about it is that we’re now allowed to make up whatever the heck we want about what is next.