By Kevin Sutton

On Listening from the Inside

The tragic death of Robin Williams is beginning to be talked out and the comments are becoming redundant. But the untimely passing of this great artist by his own hand bring to mind some thoughts that I think are worth sharing.

I won’t pretend that Robin Williams was my favorite actor of all time or that he changed my life or that he was my best friend twice removed. Such presumption is unseemly and an affront to the memory of a great man. What I will reflect upon is that Mr. Williams was a one of a kind artist; the kind with genius, generosity and heart. These qualities are rare in anyone and Robin had them in spades.

I read a post on Instagram where some armchair Dr. Phil called his suicide selfish. Such a comment belies an ignorance and an arrogance that I find intolerable. To berate and belittle someone’s suffering is beyond reprehension. Besides, what could Mr. Williams have possibly gained by taking his own life other than an end to the pain that had plagued him for years and was well and publicly documented?

It is a shame that it takes the demise of a cultural icon to call attention to our need to slow down and disconnect from our devices long enough to hear the cries of someone in need. In a world that now fits conveniently into the palms of our hands, a world in which we have instant access to practically all of the recorded knowledge of our species, we often fail to listen to the voice of the person next to us. And in failing to listen, we fail to hear. And in failing to hear we fail to learn. And in failing to learn we fail to act. And in failing to act, we simply fail.

Today, I don’t just mourn the loss of a great talent and a great humanitarian. I mourn our collective loss of real connectivity, that connection that exists only in the personal and analog bond between one human being and another.

In the film One Hour Photo Robin William’s character soliloquizes about the wonder of a single photograph, about the underlying message that accompanies a person’s desire to aim a camera at another person and make a record of his existence. Years later, those millions of anonymous pictures, whether they appear in a box at a flea market, on a funny greeting card, or in a museum, say one thing. They say “Look at me, I was here, and for at least one moment in time, someone loved me enough to take my picture.”

Thank God that we loved Robin Williams enough to take his picture over, and over and over again.

Farewell to La Cage aux Folles

Today is a bittersweet day.  At three p.m. the curtain will rise one last time on Georges, Zaza, les Cagelles and all the gang.  Even though after thirteen performances and five weeks of rehearsal I am a little weary of the tunes and can practically quote the entire show from memory, I am sad to see my first theater project in over twenty years fade into history. It has been a truly wonderful experience.

I guess what I really want to say is thank you so much to Lon, Doug, Logan, Matt, Rob, Anthony, Ricky, Kris, David, Matthew, Erin, Victoria, Cameron, Carlos, Chris, Anna, Eddie, Kristy, Hope,  and all the crew for letting me be a part of such a splendid experience. And to my wonderful orchestra: Randy, Christian, Carlos, Curtis, Koryn, Kristen and Chris, thank you so much for making this such a fun show to play and conduct. You guys are superb musicians and I promise that you are all my official “A-list” for any future show I might be in.

The theater is a home. It’s a family. It’s not just a place of glitter and fake walls. Anyone who has ever been in a show knows that the community that has dedicated itself to entertain, motivate, inspire and move you is also the community that cares deeply not only for its art, but for its own. I had forgotten after some twenty years away just how much I love actors and musicians. As Shakespeare said, “We are the stuff that dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded by a sleep. ”

To those of you who got to see the show, I hope that we were the stuff of dreams. To all my friends in the cast and crew, you’ve been a dream come true. And as we put this show to sleep,  thank you, all of you,  for letting me back into your wonderful world.

 

Some Thoughts on Life after Fifty

Now that the my fiftieth birthday is a thing in the relatively distant past, I have had some time to get over the shock of my commencing middle age and evaluate where I am in life. There were no shortage of things that I had to figure out how to accept. For example, at fifty, barring some medical miracle, I probably have more years of life behind me than ahead.  That fact was put into grim perspective when my father died last year, given that he lived only another thirty-one years after his fiftieth birthday. Considering, to use one barometer, that I have lived in Texas for what seems like a short time, but in reality is twenty-four years, well, tempus fugit!

So in my mind it comes down to an evaluation of what I have accomplished in my life thus far, and a decision as to how I plan to spend the rest of my years. Without rhyme or reason or any sense of order, here’s what I came up with.

If I were to consider my first fifty years and give myself a grade, it would have to be about a C-. I have a fairly lengthy list of wouldashouldacouldas, culminating in the circumstances which lead to five years of very self-destructive behavior and a serious abuse of alcohol. I squandered a lot of money, time and talent on something that got me nowhere. I really don’t have any of the tangibles that mark the society imposed tokens of success. I don’t own a home, I don’t have a lot of money in the bank etc.

The great thing about turning fifty though is that half a century is a very useful line of demarcation. And for me, it symbolized the point at which I could put the mishaps and mayhem of my first five decades firmly in past, and start with a very clean slate. Today my life is peaceful. It is measured by good friends, good associations, a wonderful way to make a living and a lifestyle that is free of drama (except the drama that i create in the theater), worry and stress. For the first time in my adult life, I think I am living like an adult; pursuing healthy goals, meeting my obligations with regularity and contributing something good and wholesome to the world. That’s not to say everything is ideal, but I strive for progress and not perfection, and thus far, the progress has been steady and regular.

Being older has also led me to search through my ideas on spirituality on a much deeper level. While I will always remain a Christian at heart, I have explored other religions and other belief systems, and rethought just who I understand God to be, how he may or may not move in the world and specifically in my life. It’s been interesting to read about the actual history of the Christian religion. When you know how the Bible got assembled and the political machinations behind who was running things in those days, you can’t help but ask a lot of serious questions about what you’ve believed on faith for an entire lifetime.

I think perhaps the greatest gift of middle age is being able to give myself the permission to explore beyond what I have always believed, to freely choose a path that is most meaningful to me and to know that it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of my decisions and pursuits. Fifty for me has been synonymous with freedom.

So what does that bode for the future? The remainder of my life will be spent in new exploration and a new sense of calm. I also know that no matter what roads I take, they will be the roads of my own choosing, and that I will freely exercise the power to say no when I want to. My only regret at this point is the brevity of it all. There are so many places I haven’t seen and so many people that I haven’t met and I am sad that there just isn’t enough time to do it all.

But hey, I still have some years left, so I think that I will get busy with the exploration right away. I hope that somewhere along the journey, I meet you!

Welcome to the New Blog

Dear friends,

For those of you who have followed thetenordiaries.blogspot.com in the past, thank you very much. Thanks to the amazing work of Joseph Lo, my new webmaster, we have this fantastic website to work with and I will now be posting all my blog posts here. You will be able to comment and send me messages from this site as well.

Please take a few moments to surf around this fantastic site and check out all of the fun things that are going on in my world! I certainly want you to be a part of it.

I will begin regular posts to the blog on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays starting on July 29. And of course, at any other time the spirits move me.

Thanks for checking out the scene!

Kevin