Tuesday, February 9, 2010
When Galaxies Meet
Nature is the most breathtaking ongoing example of creative collaboration. Each element-- air, earth, fire, water, space-- is incredibly distinct and powerful. And those elements weave, dance, merge, collide, explode, dissipate, and appear continuously in an astounding display giving us weather, seasons, environments, ecologies, landscapes--moods and expressions that are subtle, unfathomable in their complex harmony, dramatic and without constraint.
And universes. Galaxies. Way out there in the slow turning of the timeless. Sometimes I wonder whether the galaxies are also deep within my body. And there are times when I know that they are. When I am taken out of the tiny beauty and imbroglios of my personal life to merge with the immensity of the universal. To me, this is an essential element in art and in life.
We often think of the work of great artists as the expression of their individual genius. Of course it is. Only Monet could paint those particular paintings. Only Martha Graham could dance or choreograph those certain dances. Only Emily Dickinson could write that particular poetry.
But so much of art and human endeavor depends upon collaboration. We are linked to, supported and influenced by our family, community, region, country, era, gender, philosophy, age. I've been thinking of collaboration a great deal lately. I was reviewing my various collaborative efforts over the years from the basketball and softball teams of my youth, working on magazines as a writer and editor, playing in improvisational music groups, developing new nonprofit organizations, participating in a dynamic Buddhist community for over 30 years and writing a best-selling book with my former husband.
"Every collaboration helps you grow." musician Brian Eno says of his collaboration with David Bowie. That's certain. Sometimes you just have to thank your lucky stars that your prayers for a great collaborative partnership were answered. What is a great collaborative partnership? For me, it means working with others who have talents I don't have, sharing and creating in ways that are supportive, warm, respectful, honest and lively.
It's a great experience to write in a solitary way, to spend hours imagining and developing creative work alone. And it's also marvelous and very stimulating to collaborate, to be refreshed and aired out by playing with other people.
I know that's what's in the stars for me. Galaxies will meet, that's for sure. My collaboration with composer Laura Rich on the music in my play has been and is a wonderful partnership. And I know it is just the beginning. Now I will meet new galaxies aplenty--and they will be disguised as actors, singers, musicians, directors, producers, backers, supporters and audiences. And in the meeting of those galaxies all stars, planets, black holes and mysteries of outer and inner space will be charged and changed in ways that are yet to be known.