|"Untitled (Slide)" by Carsten Holler, at the New Museum until January 22. Because life is a long, winding slide where if you try to stop, you'll get injured.|
In the musical Rent, the tagline is "No day but today." And while I have never been fond of Rent (because of its sentimentality and its less-than-inspired lyrics), I reacted to that message, not from the urge to have a Bohemian lifestyle but rather, because it emphasized valuing the moment you were living in and the people you were sharing it with. 2011 was the year I learned to live in the moment.
Last January, while I did spend it in New York City via my graduate program, was something of a disappointment for me. I did not get any of the internships that I applied to in New York City. Time Out New York, Playbill and American Theatre magazine were not interested in me. Or in the case of the latter, they could have been interested if they had not already chosen my fellow classmate as an intern. I had been convinced that I needed to work in another New York City publication in order to get an edge in the job search that I knew would be difficult.
And then, somewhere in that disappointment of ambition, I broke it down practically. I did not have to spend extra money to travel down to New York City every week. Which meant that I could save money so I can live in New York City the months after graduation while I found a job. That promptly led me to another thought, "I'm going to move to New York City." It was no longer a distinct possibility if there was a job offer, a maybe if I did not get an offer somewhere else, or something to think about while I job-searched in California at my parent's house. No, it was a deeper compulsion, a sign that said, "This is now or never and I am going to do this."
It was the fool hardy sense of opportunity that allows you to abandon the practical and smart option. I only had enough money to subside for three, maybe four months, while I found a job. And after, I didn't, for the first time in my life, have a contingency plan. Maybe my parents will help me out, maybe my sisters...
I actively decided not to think about it, because that would spoil the urgency and I would get cold feet (and the times I did think about it, it led to panicked and sleepless evenings where I would call my sister in tears). I was going to be another one of the millions of dreamers who came to New York City. I would put the odds in my favor as much as I could and then throw the dice.
I can't say it was the smartest thing I have ever done (surely the most foolhardy). I also can't advocate the jobless leap into a new city for anyone except for people who 1) have a steady support network in case things go wrong, 2) accept that the odds are stacked in the name of failure and 3) would rather do nothing else than to take that leap.
And that leap took me right to the cover of American Theatre magazine, which I will always describe as a stroke of luck and the natural karmic product from hard work and sleeplessness (what everyone else calls fate).
Then there were the moments:
2011 was also the year that I saw some damn good theatre, including Follies, Hugh Jackman on Broadway, The Threepenny Opera, The Select (The Sun Also Rises), One Man Lord of the Rings, and many many others. I also saw some not-as-good theatre which I am not going to think about.
It was also the year I took my first pilates class (in my new quest to get abs because you should always have goals); saw Florence + the Machine twice (for free); slid down a three-story-long, winding slide at the New Museum (Carsten Holler's "Experience", see above photo); and tried online dating, which is not an experience I am looking forward to repeating, if I repeat it at all.
But the takeaway from the year, and the thing that will make 2011 a momentous one for a long time, is this: 2011 was the year where I finally lived my dreams. I moved to New York City and I became a journalist. I cannot ask for more in 2012 and I don't believe in the pressure of having resolutions.
So the only thing I hope, and what should always be hoped for every year, is that good things continue to happen (or just happens, for people who are looking for positive change in 2012). For me as a Buddhist, it would be greedy and disingenuous to ask for anything more.