Everyone has one, likely more than one. I'm not talking about the big ones - you know, booze or tobacco or drugs or sex or gambling - but the little addictions.
I've just got to have my morning cup of coffee.
If I didn't go to the gym every day then I don't know what I'd do with myself.
Leave me alone, I'm reading the paper.
I don't feel like myself if I don't put on my face.
I can't wait for the next season of X to start. In the meantime, I'm rewatching it again on Netflix.
Hang on, let me finish this game.
I'm not saying the little addictions are inevitably bad, I'm just saying it's helpful to know they are there, so we can accommodate them. Support them. Understand why we might feel a bit off if we don't get to them. Make a decision about what to do, to yield or get help.
Me? I have plenty of addictions. Some are private. Others, like hot showers and baths or writing or tea are more visible. The little ones are easy to indulge. It's the big ones that get scary, that I try to overlook and pretend aren't there. Those are the ones I imagine don't have power over me.
It's like that sometimes.
When I lived in Boston, my life was rich with performance. I could tell stories weekly if I wanted to, even more often. Audiences were everywhere. Getting up on stage (or what passed for a stage) was my drug. The trembling anticipation. The beating of my heart. That first deep breath and the rush as the story began to flow out of me, the audience leaning forward, the connection.
It's a visceral jolt.
After almost every performance I would feel balanced. Centered. Sure of my place in the world. It was as though the concentrated attention of my audience fed something in me, that the act of giving them story gave me something, too.
It all sounds a little seedy here, but if you are a performer, then you know what I'm talking about. It doesn't matter if you work with kids or adults, there is something about that time on stage that feeds you. I imagine everyone feels it, be they preacher, dancer, storyteller, actor or newscaster. You go somewhere inside, someplace hidden, and reveal yourself. The fear switches over to something else and it. feels. good. It is my drug. If you look inside, if you’re honest, you know what I mean.
Since moving to Kansas City I've had far fewer performance opportunities. The spoken word community here is less dense and more poetry specific, so I’m working my way into it, finding and creating the opportunities I crave. I’ve performed maybe every month or so since arriving, and then it’s only been short pieces in open mics or in the class I’m teaching. These have been good stories, fun, with responsive audiences, but it’s infrequent. I hadn’t realized I’ve been in withdrawal. What I had noticed over the last few weeks is that I’ve been kind of blue. A little listless. Antsy. Plucking at my mental clothing for something to do, for the right thing to do, for the thing that will make me feel whole, all the while not realizing it’s my drug I’m craving. The audience. The connection. The visceral jolt.
It’s like that sometimes.
A few days ago I was one of many performers standing on a street corner pitching my show for the Kansas City Fringe Festival. I felt so good, enjoyed every moment so much, it was such a familiar and welcome feeling. It hit me like a ton of bricks, like that first drink Oh god, I’ve missed this. The feeling has lingered, my mood lifted, hope restored. And that’s when it hit me. I’m an addict. I needed the audience, the connection, the moment, the visceral jolt.
And now I find myself wondering where I’ll get my next hit. Wondering what happens if I don’t find the stage soon enough. Is there a support group I should be looking for? I don’t know. My name is Laura, I’m a storyteller. I need the dance, the sway between audience and tale. And if it’s not there, well…
It’s like that sometimes.
(c)2013 Laura S. Packer