Summer is getting hot and heavy and it's barely June. This is a season for beach trips, cookouts and action movies. For this theater professor, it's also a season off work, perfect for asking big questions... namely, what's next?
As a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, I get their monthly magazine in the mail. This month's issue is entitled "Season in Review," and features dramatists' comments on the high and low points of the past theatrical season. The issue also highlights various writers' answers to the question: "What inspires you to write?" In a way, it's an issue that values looking back and forward at once.
This week, a special woman passed away. She was called Maya Angelou. As I glanced at the "Season in Review" cover this morning, I thought of Dr. Angelou in particular. Also a playwright, she left behind many seasons of work worth reviewing and often answered the question, "What inspires you to write?"
I think of her personal history, mission and vision as I consider my own life's season in review. Two quotes of hers resonate deeply with me. Here's the first:
Never miss a local story.
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
We don't all walk around in agony over untold stories. Frankly, I don't think I've ever felt that way. But I find something curious here. Is an examination of our past one key to unlocking the stories or testimonies within us?
Here's the second quote:
"Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage."
It takes courage to review the seasons in your life, to consider them honestly and say what was wrong, what could have been better, what you long for more of the next time around. It even takes courage to celebrate the things you've done that were good, brave, and generous. In reviewing it all with an honest, loving spirit, you affirm your self-worth and become more powerful as you move forward.
When you review the last season of your life, what were the highs? What were the lows? How will you curate your upcoming season to be even more outstanding than your last? And after that (and we may want to take some notes from Paul Pierce at the Springer), how can you begin to build a group of 'season ticket holders' that are regularly inspired by your season?
Let's imagine we have eyes on the back and front of our heads. If we can look back and look forward at once, how vast and sharp would our vision be? The answer to the question 'What's next?' may be more spiritual than practical. In fact, it should be.
-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent correspondent. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cafeaulazy.