Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Kulit Co. Spilt milk, growing up and Life's incoherences

By KC Concepcion

WITH A BOOK ON SHAKEspeare's Measure for Measure in one hand and a large cup of steamed hazelnut milk in the other, I couldn't do better than hold down paper towels on the floor with my winter boots hoping desperately that they would absorb the milk I spilled on the classroom carpet.

"Don't be anxious about making black & white definitions -- your definition will be wrong." In my Writing and Criticism class, with a professor with a background in Theater Arts, we revised the logistics on the makings of an excellent term paper.

Still quietly stomping on the floor with the towels, I jotted down notes but my mind that day was thinking faster than my professor's pace of speech (to do this on a regular basis would be a challenge!).

Silently wondering what was going to happen to the carpet stain, I wrote down what he said. "Don't make premature incoherences on oppositions -- there are incoherences, but the point is you need to be precise as to when and how you will use them to support your main argument."


And I thought, isn't that what makes life worth living?

Incoherences are like stories in our lives that happened and we find that they don't seem to make sense at all. These are stories that could be the makings of a great song and stories which could end up in a fantastic film -- if only all the scenes in it conspired to create something whole and we could right away grasp the reasons that they needed to happen. Too many times in the interesting conversations on life people fail to make sense of things -- some become impatient and decide on premature conclusions to end the misery of not knowing what is coming next, while others patiently wait from scene to scene, eager about not quite understanding how the story will end. For example, somewhere in the middle of being a girl and becoming a woman is a whole new place I had never been to before. Everytime you're in some place new, you don't always know how to deal, you don't always know what to do in situations. Whether it be in receiving a first good paycheck, a new apartment, a real emotion, true love or one real love that may last years. Now that I'm nearing 21, it feels strange that there are things I used to do that don't feel so right anymore all of a sudden. There is a change in the way I spend my day, the words I choose to use, the books I read, the way I wear my hair, the shoes I walk in, the joys and pains I open myself up to and even in the risks I am willing to take. Sometimes I think that maybe it is a passing phase-just to one day silently realize I might much rather leave the Mickey Mouse lingerie behind, or, if the opportunity arises, I would find myself returning to that, which I once loved dearly and unquestioningly make the choice to stay.

Growing up

"B & W definitions will be wrong." Transitioning from this girly, babyfat phase to walking into chill Brazil womanhood is definitely a scary thought. I was having a conversation with a friend as we transferred from one campus building to another and she mentioned that she feels Paris is making her grow up fast. I wasn't exactly sure what she meant but I knew it struck a chord because before I knew it, I was building a mental memory wall of all my defining, growing-up moments in the past three years (some of which are freeze-framed in past articles!). All the clickity-clocking of our heels somehow placed me in a trance and all I could do was float in awe thinking of how things managed to evolve and wondering how in the world I was supposed to piece all the separate fragments together to get out of Neverland for a little while and make sense of the changes between life as a girl and inching towards becoming a woman. In relating to the idea of figuring out where certain ambiguous stories in our lives are supposed to lead us to, my friend reassures me (and herself, too) that there is no set formula for a perfect life. For us who aren't rocket scientists, we can never really put things under the 'if, then' philosophy and be 100 percent sure it will result in that one thing we want to happen. Just as 2005 ended and it brought unexpected relief as the year was just a darling, not-so-little emocoaster ride filled with the inevitable ups and downs. For the ups (along with other college students around the world), sophomore year ended and I launched into junior year, I began taking more and more control of my finances and finally succeeded in learning enough to have them be fully turned over to me. During the summer I joined the Beauty and the Beast Manila cast for 3 months working in the musical from Disney. I recorded tracks for my first "album release," and rejoiced with the rest of the Saturday Super gang for the success of that year's Artists's Fair, which happily benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Hands-On Manila. It was a great, productive year! But of course, to balance things out, there were some painful downs that consisted of melancholic mayhem, hormonal changes, choices made without full conviction, friends who have graduated and moved away to launch the next chapter in their lives, and I'm sure there were, for some, hurt relationships, and tired hearts currently sunbathing somewhere in Tahiti, on vacation!

Life onstage

Theater has given me some life lessons on growing from a girl to a woman. When I first started in theater five years ago, I learned the basics: In theater, what you see before determines what you see afterwards. A play, like life, is an ensemble of things, there issequential logic (and for playwrights I guess this is also what makes it difficult to write): People come in and out, just as they do in life, and they need to do so in order to build the scenes. But no matter what happens, you have to keep at it, you have to continue and the show must go on. I realized last year that the point of theater really is to seduce the invisible into visibility -- it makes visible to us what is not seen, all within a structure that works like clockwork. What I mean is you do things for one reason at a time, and these reasons may make sense to you now and not later, or may not make sense now, but will in the future. We all know drama kings and queens, and the nice thing about them is that they live for how things are constantly moving and suck up the experience. Change is theatrical in that it can make clear the purpose of things that came before -- the worth of decisions you needed to make, the marks people left who came and went, work that was finished that you received recognition for, why things happened the way they did. But sometimes it's hard to see the reasons behind things, and it could be hell to have to be a believer of fate, yet not be able to avoid dwelling on the possibilities of losing something to time, ego, and passivity. Yup, rushing through life and growing up too fast is like running all the time until you fall apart. And falling apart means you need to pick up the pieces, and sometimes it takes time to see if all the pieces fit back together. Mama Lei (Lea Salonga who I love and respect and adore) gave me one of the best pieces of advice and was this: In playing a role, you don't constantly think of the ending of the story.


You just concentrate on the work at hand. You need to go about it scene by scene, one moment to the next, otherwise you will be distracted, if not entirely overwhelmed by the big picture. At one point or another, we all find ourselves at a crossroads where we realize that we are shedding skin just as a city would, as seasons change and things evolve more quickly than we'd wish. For me, because in growing up so many feelings are new, but very, very real, I sometimes find myself intimidated by how much there is we can do. In anything really -- writing a paper, in acting for a play, in trying to decide which parts of the child in you want to keep, in putting something on hold, in jumping into something and taking the "bull by its horns"… I know now that when you do something, the choice has to be yours, because you understand what you're doing it for, you have a main argument and goal to work towards, and because you mean it when you say and do it. Whether or not you know exactly what will come out of the story, this is the only way you could hop on to whatever wave comes next, and the only way to, in real Madonna fashion, take a bow and be true to yourself.

A perfect paper doesn't exist. A perfect 2006 does not exist. A perfect woman, a perfect relationship, a perfect performance, and a perfect production do not exist. However (and this one I learned in class), we can all be more precise, and we can all avoid repeating our faults, or summarizing a premature plot. Your story is being written and there's only one way to complete it, and that's to give it some faith and some time. One of my mentors warned me in the beginning: "In theater, you can be rejected. You can have a bad show tonight. You can have a fantastic show tomorrow." Nothing is certain -- even in the world that changes faster than you can blink, you still cannot cry over spilt milk, nor instantly sort out incoherences, but you can definitely make choices to be happy even when there is the stupid temptation to stay stagnant and not make any choice at all. Somewhere in between the bitter-sweetness of closure and the excitement and hope of ambiguity, there are certain questions that only time will be able to answer. Then again, you never know -- certain stories made within the big picture may not need an ending, but it will always serve a particular purpose.

No accident

Knowing beforehand that because you learn to love yourself, and because you learn to love who or what the world has in store for you, that you keep doing it and continue on with each scene so that one day you can just touch a turning point! Tomorrow's performance will be better because you bring what you take from your last show.

Shakespeare says after all, that all the world's a stage. And all the world's a classroom where there are different other flavors of milk just waiting to be spilled on the carpet. But even that's no accident -- in the end, IF you do finally reach the end, these are the emocoaster moments, the incoherences, that will hopefully come together through time to support and to give worth to those things you fought and lived for. All the things that don't seem to connect now can still come together to make clear analogies in our lives. In other words, one day yours will be a kick-ass, rock-steady story that just HAS to be told and remembered over, and over again!

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