Waving Through a Window

On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?
‘Cause I’m tap, tap, tapping on the glass
I’m waving through a window
I try to speak, but nobody can hear
So I wait around for an answer to appear
While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass
I’m waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

Have you ever felt this?
Feeling isolated and alone, watching life pass by?

Last week I sat transfixed watching Dear Evan Hansen, the Tony award Broadway musical, and every morning when I wake, all I hear in my head is,
I’m waving through a window,
Can anybody see?

And I knew I had to write to you about it.

I’ve been waiting to see this show for over a year.  It’s the hottest ticket on Broadway right now, rising in acclaim from a loyal fan base, and winning the Grammy for best album.But, what surprised me most was, I actually didn’t know what the show was about.

Somehow from some past conversation, I had thought the show was about bullying, so as I sat in the audience during pre-show, and watched the screens showing constant social media feeds, I thought,
Right…the effect of social media on teens….cyber bullying.

Then, the show began, and it was all too clear this was not about bullying.

The show is actually about teenage suicide and depression.

Not exactly what you would expect from a Broadway musical, right?
Aren’t musicals about happy people, dancing, and bursting into uplifting songs?

Why do so many people relate to this musical?
Why is it able to command some of the highest ticket prices and sell out every night?

Throughout the theater, the sound I heard was tears…crying….sniffling. And at the end, the entire audience was on their feet.

I’m waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

 

I slam my dance clothes into my bag, holding back tears as I feel the hot sting of embarrassment.

I’ve been cut again.
It’s not fair.

I look at all the women being kept to sing, mourning my lost opportunity.
My voice is warm, I have my best song with me, and yet it doesn’t matter. They don’t want to hear me sing.

This won’t be my show. This won’t be my opportunity, and it’s back to another audition.

I see my colleagues, friends, all booking their Broadway show.  I feel like screaming,
Give me my CHANCE! Please!

On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?

And I jam my headphones into my ears, and walk out onto the city street.  I’m getting older, I’ve been professionally performing for over 15 years….and the question arises in me,
Will this ever happen?

Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

 

Three years later, I slam the bathroom door, and slide down the wall, curling into the smallest ball possible.
I feel the heat pipe behind me, and wonder if I hold my hand to it, would it burn?

Then I look at the bathroom window, and wonder,
can I squeeze through it?

This bathroom is three stories up……

I’m losing this home anyway.
I’m losing this marriage…..I’m losing this life.

Could I fit through the window?
And then, would all the pain I feel pass?

For a moment, I stare at the window and consider, and then I come back.  I come back to the fact my entire life is falling apart.  My husband is leaving me.  I’m not getting pregnant.  Everything I had planned has slipped through my fingers.

I feel the pain, and realize I’m still breathing. And I realize I want to live. 

I want a devoted husband.
I want a family.
I want a life in the arts that fulfills me.

And I realize it’s not happening here….it’s been crying out for years, and now the truth is here.

And I take a breath, wipe my tears….and get up.

And I start to speak….
I start to ask for help…
I start to write about all that has been trapped inside me.

And the biggest surprise of all?
People listen.
People come close.

And I realize, I’ve been WRONG all along.

We actually have far more in common than differences.

All my doubts, all my fears, my heartache and vulnerability are actually what I SHARE with others.

I had thought I would be rejected for my vulnerability and people would leave.  Turns out, this is what was missing all along.

 

And the writers of Dear Evan Hansen knew this too.
They knew it intimately.

We actually all just want to be SEEN.
We want to be HEARD.

Starved for connection in our present age…..we deeply want to BELONG.

Dear Evan Hansen isn’t talking about something new.  Teenage depression and suicide have been around for a very long time, but the writers are giving it a VOICE.  They are releasing the shame and stigma around something that millions of families deal with, to offer the simple message,

You are not alone.

As an Artist, the greatest gift you bring to the table is your HUMANITY.  It’s not your perfection….it’s what you share with your audience.

We all cry.
We all feel loss.
We all have hearts that break, and bend, and burst.

And as an Artist, YOU have the ability to translate that.

You have the ability to translate these aspects that can feel so hidden to your audience into,
song
word
visual art
photography
dance

This is your gift. And it allows your audience to touch their humanity, and to open to loving their life.

So, take a breath, and tap in.

Are you sharing your Humanity with your audience?
Are you focused on what you have in common?

Listen, speak to them, and share what you have in common.

That’s when they will listen.

As Evan sings,
Have you ever felt like nobody was there?
Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere?
Have you ever felt like you could disappear?
Like you could fall, and no one would hear?

Well, let that lonely feeling wash away
Maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be okay
‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand
You can reach, reach out your hand

And oh, someone will coming running
And I know, they’ll take you home

So let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
Lift your head and look around
You will be found

 

We are stronger together.
Create your Art from our shared humanity.

Image courtesy of: Seattle Times

Get To the Truth

I recently witnessed a miracle.

I recently witnessed proof of WHY Art is so important, why YOUR work as an Artist is vital.

Your speech
Your music
Your Book
Your performance
Your Art & Photography

And it began with this statement:

Art is one of the only things that helps me with my anxiety and depression.

On stage stands a young woman, shaking, holding a microphone at a group event.  Chosen to do an exercise to meet her fear, tears are falling from her eyes, as she begins to open up to what is important to her.

Art gets my thoughts off suicide and everything that is going on in my head and concentrates it on one thing, focusing it all on that.  It helps clear my head….helps to understand everything that’s going on in my head.

As she shares this vulnerable piece, there is a visible shift, not only in her body, but in the audience.

From the back of the room, the teacher asks,
Why does Art do this for you?

Art tells a story to everyone.  Different art pieces may mean something to one person but not to another and people see different things and different images and just like a story it hits people and nerves and places that they’ve been, and their emotions.

Relaxing even more now, and speaking far clearer into the microphone, the woman is asked by the teacher:
What stories do you like?

People who are willing to change and go from a bad place to happy and feeling every emotion to get there.

 

Feeling every emotion to get there. Did you know you were giving your audience that permission?

Are you giving yourself that permission as the Creator?

Your art allows your audience not only to get out of a never ending spiraling mind, but to really connect with themselves because there’s a PIECE of your work that is familiar to them.

That inspires them.

That allows them to connect to YOU and take their minds off their own isolated anxiety.

Your art shows your audience what they are capable of and reminds them of their joy and hope.

And for you as the Artist?

Well, if you are able to take a woman who was thinking of suicide, and is now standing on a stage and vulnerably sharing her story to a packed room?  A woman who now is an Ally and a supporter and an audience member?

A woman who now wants to live.

What does this remind YOU are capable of? This woman is how you know it can be better, the proof of the effect of your words and music, your brushstroke and imagery.

Art becomes the way YOU connect. Art becomes the way out of your personal isolation and into beauty.

Warren Beatty said,
The Goal of Art is to get to the Truth

The truth of who we are.
The truth of what we feel.
The truth of our experience.

So, tell your stories.  Share your truth.  Your audience wants what you have.  More than you realize.

They are actually waiting and deeply hungry for it.

How do I know?

This woman brought the entire room to it’s feet. Every person in that room connected to her truth.

So, what is yours?