My focus today is on my personal history. It happens that my late sister, Harriet Rae Simon, would have been 72 years old on August 12th. She died at 32, forty years ago. And today, August 14th, is the day 48 years ago, that my father died at the age of 63. I think of both of them and how they helped make me who I am today.
As I reflect on my life and especially how I have come to have written and perform The Actual Dane, I am in awe of all the forces – known and unknown – that come together inside each human being to define who and what we are. Forces which are scientifically identifiable or tangible and forces which are not scientifically identifiable and are not understood but nonetheless real.
“I believe in ghosts” is something I say every time I perform The Actual Dance even though it is not in the written script. I do not know why it is so important to me, the playwright and performer, to say that phrase I am reluctant to add it to the script. Perhaps it is simply because I – the performer – do believe in ghosts in a particular way and I – the playwright – do not want to require those other actors who one-day will perform the show to pretend that they do believe?
So what are ghosts? My mind is open enough to believe that there exists elements of energy or life or of the divine that infuse our being and connect us with all living creatures present, past and future. The markers of the past can be what we learned from our parents and the DNA markers of our historical forefathers. They can also be part of something else that we can’t see or measure but perhaps can sense at very unique times in our own lives.
So today I think about my Dad and his family. And my older sister Harriet. They each played a role in creating me. Their lives helped determine what I have become. I believe that in “the unknowable and unseeable universe” their spirits will be there when it is my turn to join them.
In the show, I describe it as “our kids, and our family, and our friends from now” and “generations from before use” and “maybe even generations yet to come” standing around the darkened walls of the metaphorical ballroom loving us as “each and every one of us” dance The Actual Dance.