Taking stock

[This post seems hopelessly trivial after what happened at the Boston Marathon yesterday, but I technically wrote it before the bombings took place. I just wanted to think on it for a night before publishing it.]

.   .   .

I’ve been in a rut for the past year or so. It’s a tough thing to admit, but I thought it best to take a moment to really look at where I am in life, decide where I want to go from here and figure out how to get there. Doing so publicly feels a bit reckless and I might regret this later. Then again, what the hell…

Here is where I stand right now:

* A relationship that was very important to me ended last week and I’m desperately sad about it.

* My opera career, such as it is, has hit a plateau. I’m past the young artist stage of my career, but I don’t quite have enough mainstage street cred to ascend to the level of artistic achievement to which I aspire. I am at a crossroads. Do I find a new strategy and press on? Or cut my losses and move on to something else? Both options feel equally daunting at present.

* I had an ill-timed (and unfortunately necessary) surgery last fall which took me out for most of the opera audition season (I probably shouldn’t have sung any of the few auditions I did manage to arrange). While I’m more or less fine now, I’m left with scads of unwanted free time as a result.

* Speaking of free time, for the first time in a long time I find myself without a project. At first I was looking forward to having a few blank pages on my calendar, but I’ve recently discovered (always known, more like) that I’m a girl who needs an occupation. Idleness does not suit me. I miss the thrill of a challenge. (Like devouring an opera score, perhaps?) This aspect of my life must be remedied immediately.

* Financially speaking, I’m barely scraping by. This is nothing new for me. I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for the starving artist’s life. Thankfully, I am an excellent money manager and I have very little debt so I’m not terribly concerned about it, but I wanted to paint a complete picture of where I am right now. (Though most of the time it feels like I’m constantly brooding over where I’m not.)

* For one thing, I am not in love with New York City anymore. Looking back on my almost five years here, I’m not certain that I ever was. Sure, it’s exciting and it’s the cultural center of the universe, but this city can be a giant, soul-sucking bitch, too.

* On a brighter note, I’ve discovered in the last year that I really enjoy writing. I’ve also enjoyed learning about how film and TV get made, however I’m getting pretty sick of the long days and crappy pay checks that go along with background work. The thought of transitioning from opera to writing, or TV, or writing for TV is at the same time intriguing, terrifying and altogether paralyzing. Plus, I fear I would miss the art of live performance. No matter how interesting it is to watch a director and a camera crew setting up a difficult shot, for me, nothing compares to the feeling of performing in front of a live audience.

* Right now the most appealing idea I can think of is a solo cross country road trip. Pity my little Toyota has over two hundred thousand miles on her now, she sounds like a go cart and though it pains me to say it, I don’t think she’s up for the trip. I keep trying to make a case for the fact that I’m not likely to ever have this much freedom again, and that I do some of my best thinking while driving, but deep down I know that my feeble justifications are simply an excuse to run away, and I’m well aware that running away never solves anything.

* That said, my lot isn’t all bad. I am grateful to have good health in general. Surgery notwithstanding, I am well. (Though I have been losing far too much sleep and a bit too much weight lately.)

* Lastly, and most importantly, I am extremely grateful for the fact that I have a large group of close family and friends who provide me with boundless love and support.

So that’s where I am. I know plenty of people (some of whom read this blog) who have far worse problems than I, but lately it’s been a struggle for me to see past the end of my own nose. I know I have to move forward, but I haven’t the foggiest notion as to which direction forward is.

I honestly don’t know what I hoped to accomplish by writing this. Guidance, perhaps? To ask for prayers or good vibes from the countless friends and strangers who happen to read this? Maybe I just wanted to get it all out of my system so that I can stop ruminating for five minutes and get focused on…whatever the hell it is that I’m supposed to be focused on right now. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Of course, I could always take the safer route and simply not publish this particular post…but where’s the fun in that?

5 thoughts on “Taking stock

  1. Do it! (The cross-country road trip, that is). My sister went on one, met a boy, traveled with him to Guatemala, learned Spanish, worked as a translator on cruise ships, then lived in Venezuela, then biked across Spain, visited Morocco and Montana and now she’s settled in Brazil for the last five years. I went on one too, and came back and nothing happened. But do it! I envy your free time.

  2. Thank you for your honest, lovely, witty voice. I was in NYC this weekend and was thinking of you, and what silliness we were in Atlanta all those years ago. I think you could certainly make a career in writing, but I understand the ‘addiction to the stage.’ I love that you’re ‘thinking out loud’ here and I can appreciate all your points, as I’m sure many artists are feeling similarly at the moment. I hope you find more opportunities, whatever they may be, around the corner, soon.
    Bethany H.

  3. Sarah, the voice I hear in your writing sounds sad and slightly desperate. It’s bad, really bad. Do not go across country. Right now, this is not a solution it is more like running away from yourself which we all know is impossible. The issue of which direction you should go with your career is nothing new and I don’t think you should decide this right now. Instead I think you need to find out what kind of life you want to live, where do you fit in this world? Try to look inside yourself and find your answers. Pray to your god, the universe, whomever or whatever. Perhaps meditate. Your answers may not come in a loud booming voice but just a gentle tap on the shoulder. Sometimes, we just have to sit in our darkness and loneliness for a while .we, ourselves decide how long we can bear it before we find our answers. What I am trying to tell you is don’t look outside of yourself . No relationship, job choice or physical place will bring you fulfillment. First you find yourself and there you will find joy.
    I send you love, peace and kindness.

  4. I hope you find what truly makes you happy. If you ever move back to CT, we have a lot of fun doing our little outreach thing with Lollipop Opera – and would love to have you join us if you’re looking for a creative outlet while you pursue other goals.

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