Getting Gratitude To Stick Around

I’m flying home tomorrow to NYC from a three-week trip in Europe. I’m grateful for this time I’ve spent abroad. Gratitude is not an emotion I’m very good at experiencing. I’ll taste the epic highs of a moment and then forget what it felt like minutes later. And when the moment passes, and I’m no longer on top of the world, I get unhappy. In the solitude of traveling by myself these three weeks, I’ve had time to think about this.

In the last eight months since the Annoyance Theatre NY closed, I’ve had trouble believing in myself, or even knowing who I am without a brick-and-mortar accomplishment to hang my ego on. I’ve been slugging through eight months of low-level depression — my own personal Degobah as my friend David Goldberg put it. Helping to create an underground home for artists in Brooklyn was the high point to which I’ve compared everything…and the rock weighing down hopes I’ve had since The Annoyance NY closed. For months, I felt out of my body in the midst of amazing moments. Distracted by an unease I couldn’t put my finger on. I’ve downplayed my successes and justified small reasons to be unhappy. I’ve compared myself to peers on social media, happy for their successes and silently envious and wondering: why not me? I’ve been caught up in the story of past failures or worried about where I’m headed in the future — as if either the past or future is real. They’re not — they’re just my dark imagination on replay — torturing me for God knows what reason. Thanks to a conversation spent in Prospect Park with Henry Koperski, I’m realizing these thoughts aren’t real. The only thing that’s real is the newness of each moment as it happens. Past feelings and future worries are worth considering but not worth investing my life in.

It feels like I’m coming out the other side of this shadow. I spent the last three weeks teaching improv and performing shows across improv hubs in Europe on a tour I self-produced. I felt at the top of my game, and for once the feeling has sunk in for more than 10 minutes. While I’ve been lonely out here in Europe, especially as the trip has come to end, I’ve felt content. There’s so much new to discover, there’s so much to appreciate and look forward to back home, and there’s no such thing as peaking or missing out on life. I’m trying to enjoy what I’m doing and love the people I get to experience life with and be as content about it all as I can.

There are so many bigger problems right now than me wrestling with my own self-worth, but I wanted to publicly express gratitude for my life and for the people who are part of it, if only so that the kinetic act of writing it down might get that gratitude to stick around.

Written by

Performer, storyteller, teacher - living in NYC and traveling worldwide ( Artistic Director of The Brooklyn Comedy Collective.

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