Unexpected Inspiration – Thanks José Rivera

One of the joys of living in New York City is that inspiration lives around every corner. There are thought provoking, challenging, beautiful events happening all over the city on any given night. Hell, they’re even happening on the street and in the subway if you’re looking for them. I bring this up because I bought a discount ticket on a whim to attend an event at the Public Theater. The event was part of the Public Forum, the “Theater of Ideas,” and featured a talk by Sarah Lewis, followed by a conversation between her, José Rivera, and Carrie Mae Weems. I didn’t know much about these people, and I wasn’t sure if I should spend the money, but something pushed me to go. Ticket for one please.

And it was exactly what I needed. I won’t go into the long talk I had with new friends after the event, or even the highlights of the event itself. Instead, I will share a story by Jose Rivera. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment, and maybe it will be what you need to hear too.

Preface: José was raised in a Catholic tradition (cue sympathetic pat from Weems), and he was always intrigued by the creation myth.

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As we all have learned, God created the world in 7 days. On the first day, he separated light and dark, blah, blah, blah. So on the seventh day, it was good, and it seemed complete. There were a few bunnies on a hillside watching the sunset, but the thing was, they couldn’t enjoy the sunset. All they could think about were where their next carrots were going to come from. That’s when God realized that things weren’t actually complete. He needed someone to enjoy all the beauty he had worked so hard to create, and someone to help others see that beauty. And so, on the eighth day, God created the artist. An artist’s job is to finish creation—to help others find the beauty that already exists.

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Thank you José.

One of the Lucky Ones

I currently have 5 jobs.

  1. I am assistant editor for a scholarly theatre journal. I spend 15 hours per week editing the articles of some of the smartest theatre scholars around the world, handling the permission and copyright issues in order to get things printed, and securing image files.
  2. I am contributing editor for a big-name theatre publication, where I review theater and manage the 4 print editions of the magazine every year.
  3. I am the sole editor of a new theater guide that is being built from the ground up. I’m writing every theater listing and article in the entire thing.
  4. I am assistant producing an Off-Broadway show that goes up in June.
  5. I am the production manager to a large-scale production that goes up in September.

But wait, I haven’t said that I’m a writer.

I am one of the lucky ones. I am busy working in the industry I love, using the skills I have worked so hard to train.

I did not make enough to cover my living expenses in Brooklyn this month. With five jobs, I can’t pay my rent, my insurance, my bills, and afford to pay back my student loans.

You say artists are lazy. I say we are the hardest working. You say we are selfish. I say we know how to make sacrifices.

After a 10-hour workday, I go home to finish off some production emails. At 2 am, I lay down in bed, as my lonely book project sits staring at me from across the room. I want to go to you. I want to get at least 5 hours of sleep. I close my eyes.

I am one of the lucky ones. What can I do?