Friday, June 17, 2011

One Year

It has been one year since I left Philadelphia to join the Totem tour with Greg.

Things I’ve learned

About Cirque
- The Cirque du Soleil performers, with their superhuman beauty onstage, are really ordinary people behind the scenes. Like the rest of us, they have insecurities, weaknesses, and bad moods. Uniquely, however, they are able to let go of all of that when they walk onto the stage. And truth be told, they are above-average beautiful. When they walk around outside, they are striking.
- a Cirque du Soleil touring community, which I initially perceived as completely equitable and hierarchy-blind, really isn’t. Artists are given many more benefits, privileges and considerations than any of the supporting staff. Though it seems unfair at times, everyone seems to accept it as necessary and inevitable.
- Officially, the costume department is not responsible for sewing your personal items. But if you show up with a child’s torn or damaged clothing, chances are good that someone will help you out.

About the kids
- They are, of course, resilient. They have adapted to our new lifestyle with barely a hiccup. In place of a physical home, we have our family unit – they know that, where-ever we go, Mom and Dad, Baz, Ayla, and Isa will always be together. I believe this gives them the security they need to cope with the constant changes.
- Their exposure to other cultures and languages is working out exactly as I’d hoped. They completely understand now that people surrounding them may or may not speak their language. They know how to grapple with this. And they understand how hard it is to learn another language, from their own studies of French. While I do not have children chattering away in Russian or Chinese just yet, they are absorbing the importance of all of it, and opening their minds to the learning process. It’s invaluable, and I can see a big difference in them already.
- They are book-smart, my kids. We’ve always known that. But I appreciate this educational system, which continues to challenge them in academics, but also gives them many opportunities to stretch their wings in other areas. They run, they climb trees, they dance in the aisles of the circus tent. They plant fresh vegetables and eat them; examine treasures brought back from the rainforest by one of their teachers; they memorize the flags of all of the countries of Totem’s staff. …I know that every good elementary school provides diverse opportunities, and I am just glad that the Totem school is able to do so, as well.

About me
- I can do this.
- The things in my personal life that aspire to be good at: parenting, housekeeping, physical fitness, language study – are mildly improved by having more time. But they are still far, far from perfect.
- Based on the above, and also, I expect, on the fact that I’m getting older – I am becoming more accepting of the things I will never be. A cook. Fashionably dressed. A parent who loves open-ended playtime with her children. etc.
- I am an organizer / instigator. This is who I am. No matter what situation I’m in, I feel a need to structure it and move it forwards. I get a lot done; but I don’t relax and enjoy the moment very well.
- Every city, I arrive, and find in the apartment a dozen different things that I’m missing, that I feel I can’t do without. Instead of rushing out and buying everything - my recent strategy is to write everything down. For a few days I pine away and lament the absences, but after a week or so, 90% of the things on the list really don’t seem to matter anymore.
- I have no idea how anyone survived a touring lifestyle in the days before Internet.
- In most ways, I look around and realize that I am living all of my dreams. Right here and now! I am in a beautiful apartment, right in the heart of a big, French-speaking metropolis. I have time for hobbies, and for my family. I am a (peripheral) part of Cirque du Soleil, and so continually surrounded by my strongest passion. What’s more, my other passion – the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts – thrives without me, and will be there whenever this particular dream path comes to an end. It is a life of such near-perfection, everything I have ever wanted, that I can only feel an immense gratitude.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so happy to read this. I remember saying to your mom, "wow...Shana is one of the only people I know that is literally living her dream life." However, I know that it's easy to find the holes and the things we feel are lacking while comparing our reality to the haze-surrounded vision of our 'dream'. That vision doesn't often include the less-than-ideal dark corners. I'm glad you've found your spot of sunshine and are taking advantage of the incredible opportunities and experiences you are lucky enough to have been given!