Why do I do it? Why am I so heavily involved with theater? Having made a commitment, having developed a habit, am I just going through the motions because it's what I do? Well, no. It's never that simple. The reasons are complex, but could be summed up by saying I get back more than I give. And I give a lot.
I give my time. I give up sleep. My family sacrifices because of the tasks that are left undone when I have another rehearsal to prepare for or attend. I can't count the dinners I didn't make because I had to be at the theater early. My house gets overrun with fabrics, props and other materials. One word: glitter. I have come home from rehearsals frustrated, embarrassed, angry, depressed or ready to quit. I have had people angry at me for casting them and angry at me for not casting them. I've walked so many fine lines it sometimes feels like an endless sobriety test (so I imagine!).
Ah, but the payoff. Some of the best friends I've ever had are people with whom I've shared a stage. I have received some touching and heartfelt thank-yous from people who have appreciated the opportunity to participate in something that becomes more than what they expected. I have come home exhilarated and inspired. I have seen my vision come to life and felt in some very quiet moments that I have done something worthwhile.
When I think back, oh so many years ago, how I felt I could never give up on some vague theatrical dream, how I looked a little enviously at the engineer sitting at the giant mixing boards at concerts, how I made awkward attempts at transcribing music from a vinyl record with a pencil and paper, how I tried to splice the tape on a reel-to-reel machine in hopes of learning how to edit music, I realize I've actually done it all. (Wow. Long sentence. Sorry.) Maybe everything didn't pan out exactly as planned. Maybe the realization of my early fantasies has not been very grand, but I have been very lucky. I have been given so much of what I wanted. And I have learned.
So, I keep doing it. I'm at a point where I appreciate giving back. Sharing. Teaching. I still make sacrifices along the way, but the greater sacrifice would be to not do it at all.