I have a certain fascination with doors. I realize that in the real world, many of them don’t lead anywhere fantastic or magical. Oftentimes, the most enticing ones we see that warn of special access to employees only just lead to somewhere unremarkably industrial and pragmatic.
There is one doorway that has always matched the magic of my expectations and that’s the doorway that leads backstage in a theater. I finished my recent run of acting classes with the Independent Shakespeare Co. of LA by performing Act I, Scene VII of Macbeth in front of an audience.
I got to relive the peculiar joy of hushed conversations backstage with my classmates and examining props and other mementos from past performances while we waited on our cues. It’s a space I’ve seen the doorway to many times, but only now through deciding to take these classes did I get to actually walk into it and experience its magic.
If you’ve been here before, you can track the metaphor pretty easily, so I won’t belabor it. The world is, at default, an ordinary and boring place. The places we go out of day to day necessity are not interesting places, but there’s magic in the world if we take time to notice it, more so if we venture off our well worn daily paths to seek it out.
I’ve had some wonderful reminders of that this season: last month with my first trip to Europe where each city I visited (London, Rome, and then Florence) was street after street of this magic. I wandered each city allowing myself to peek down any curious looking path or road, and kept finding beautiful sights because of it. I told my friends: in each city for every dozen things I ended up being awed seeing I had arrived knowing of only two or them. I took a friend’s mom up on her recommendation for a lunch spot in Rome, and ended up discovering the Villa Farnesina and Orsini Gallery thanks to it. I also discovered this view from the Piazza Garibaldi thanks to the route I had to take to get there:
Since coming back from that trip, I discovered the simple magic of the backstage and the stage itself. I’m at work on a new novel, and finding the magic of a story I’ve told many times before (friends get drunk together and have to piece together the night), and I’m exploring the magic of something I loved from my childhood by working on a podcast series with a friend of mine. All of these are doors I could pass by- even this blog is a door I could choose to walk by- but I’m opening them and I’m finding bits of magic I’m choosing to appreciate the small shine of.
I’m starting another round of acting classes in two weeks- a complete change from Shakespeare, I’ll be taking improv with the UCB. I can’t wait to see what’s behind that door. If you have a door you walked through recently (literal or figurative), and found something magical behind, let me know. I mean it when I say I’d love to hear your story.
If you have a door you’re thinking of going through? Do it. You’ll regret not going far more than you’ll ever regret seeing what lay beyond it. It’s not about keeping busy, it’s about growing and finding the magic in the things that bring you joy. We move forward.