It has been weeks since I presented the next draft of “Before the End.” As with many creative projects, the production enriched my understanding of the story, as it also revealed more questions.

As I said in my previous post, the character lives in a post-apocalyptic world, alone. Many propositions present themselves in this premise. What does she do with her time? How/what does she eat? Where does she live? What items does she draw near to her? What tools does she use? It goes on. In a way, the story could elicit a popular question, “If you could have or do anything, no limits, what would you choose?”

Yet, this character does not have anything she wants. She has many limits. Also, she is full aware of the interconnectedness of people, of living beings, and of the interdependence of beings and the planet. Even if she never sees another human, she is keenly aware of others’ impact on her life.

As I enter this ‘made up world’ each day, it becomes clear that there are few lines of distinction between the world I am creating and the present one I inhabit, here in the United States, twenty-first century. I allow myself to see through the character’s eyes while traveling about my day, and I allow the character to see through my eyes in her world. This, I begin to realize, is a practice of peace building. What’s more, having chosen to create this world and this play has transformed me. (Well…the transformation continues.)

I must admit. Inviting such a dual view of the world creates tension. I cannot share with my friends the views of a character from the future, and really does not ‘exist’. Likewise, I cannot fully believe what I observe when I view from the point of view of my character. Lucky for me, I am a trained professional. I can inhabit multiple worlds simultaneously, while seeing my own hand type on the keyboard, and wondering what I will eat for lunch. Yet, it occurs to me to share some of my journey with my ‘audience,’ because peace building is important to me.

Allow me to attempt an analogy. The other day I was invited to dinner at a friend’s house. As happens most of the time, these days, the conversation found its way to a talk about the ‘economy’ and our serious situation, national debt, no taxes for the rich, times are tough, it is impossible, what to do…?” Also as happens most of the time, these days, there is a general sense of despair, even of oppression, and a concomitant resignation. “That’s the way it is.” So, I’m listening to very interesting, smart and educated people tell me that money and economy is this and this…a finite entity…. I listen. I ask questions. What are some solutions? What can we do now? One guest cannot get past my statement, “I do not agree that wealth is finite. So, can we move on from this point? Can we continue to discuss the situation, talk about solutions?”

Meanwhile, I am thinking about my character. She must travel two days to walk to a contraption she has singlehandedly built to catch rainwater, boil it, purify it, and carry it back to her dwelling. I am thinking about her tenacity, her daily problems and how she plows through them. Also, I am holding the space for this conversation, genuinely wanting to get to the plowing-through part. My character cannot fathom this information: “Wealth is finite.” This is not her truth. This is not my truth.

“How can we talk if you disagree with me about something that is a fact and you do not understand?”

I search my mind for peaceful navigation tools, feeling that familiar tension which presents itself when people come to a point of conflict. I am afraid, dear reader, I came up short.

“There is a difference between being right and being helpful.”

In my experience, people are often committed to being right, rather than sharing their ideas, listening to one another, and entering into a dialogue about that which has not yet been created. I often feel frustrated when conversations reach this sort of impasse. I wonder how change can happen, how solutions can be found and implemented.

I realize that I am making a big assumption- People want to change, find solutions and implement them. Okay, I am humbled as I imagine that my assumption may be naive.

I offer it as an inquiry. I do not suppose I know other people’s truths. I also blocked that conversation, because I wanted something. I wanted discourse. I wanted suggestions. I wanted insight. I was not willing to listen to finality and complaint. Harsh words, I suppose, and I fully admit my culpability in another thwarted attempt at peaceful communication. You, see, what I have come to understand, what my character knows somewhat more deeply than I, is that none of us is ‘right.’ We all hold a piece of wisdom and many pieces of group agreement, of resignation. She knows first hand what the cumulative effect of non-peaceful actions has created in the future.

So, I share this story as a gesture of peace, and as a way to building discourse.

On another note, I am happy to announce that I am collaborating with New Mexico actor Tom Schuch on a production of Connor MacPherson’s “St. Nicholas.” This is a one character play, about the somewhat strange comings and goings of an Irish art critic. More about the story later…. Mr. Schuch and I have worked together previously as actors and teachers. Tom is a company member of Albuquerque’s Mother Road Theatre and also tours the country as an actor, in one-character shows.

With this production we are going to document our creative process and offer workshops around skills and themes inspired by the show. Hopefully our first videocast will be up online soon.

Thanks for checking in.