There are too many ways to write this post. I have started and stopped 5 previous drafts. The other reason for my reticence is that I am all too conscious of new readers. Plus Playwriting is exhausting my capacity for writing. But these thoughts have remained unarticulated and unshared for too long. So here we go.
Disclaimer: The interpretation of the 7 Ages of Man is purely my own.
Many people ask me why I joined Law IV. Which is natural, I guess, given my reclusivity. The directors didn’t know who I was before I auditioned, Clar thought “Melvyn Foo” was the name of the character, most other batchmates described me as “the one always with Tim Soo”.
I joined Law IV because performing in a musical was in my bucket list. But the audition was scarier than mooting. It had been a while since I last felt so insecure. While practicing for auditions and troubling over what songs to sing, I doubted if I should even turn up at all.
Oh what I would have missed if I didn’t~
Rehearsals were fun, intense, but also emotionally draining. The first few are captured here. But despite the intensity, in those early days, what I disliked most was the breaks between rehearsals. People would gather and mingle and chat. I would just go back to my chair in the second row and try to read or use my phone or just stare blankly at stuff. And try to be as unaware as I could that I was totally being anti-social.
If I wasn’t a lead, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad; I could have easily slipped out of notice and only appeared when I needed to. Or maybe if I had entrenched myself a few rows further back, I could have established my introvert bubble less self-consciously.
But (and I am still amazed by this) I am one of the three leads. And I chose a spot where I was forced to talk to people (however minimally that I did). And if these things led to where I am now, I can only be thankful.
The dinners and the suppers changed things. Two suppers in particular – where many right questions were asked and many stories were told. I think that was when we all started realising: we come from very different places, but we all have our own stories to share. And while our lives have never intersected before, the threads of our lives are entangled now. And there’s so much to uncover about each other.
To be honest, I never expected to fall for these people. I never expected to connect, much less to share. But I did. And it amazed me. They amaze me.
Law IV was not smooth-sailing. There was drama; there were arguments; there were fights. I liked to imagine that everyone in Law IV is having as much fun as me, and everyone is as enthusiastic and as committed as the people I was hanging out with. But people have their own lives to lead too. And not everyone has as much at stake. I wrapped myself in a lead+blueteam-bubble and became… naive, selfish, insensitive. And it was shameful to realise just how high a horse I was on.
But perhaps the most memorable fight was ideological rather than relational – we cajoled, begged and propositioned the directors to add in the new scenes. We sat on the platform one Saturday after most people had left, gathered around the piano, sang, laughed and cried (or at least some did). To give credit where it is due, a fair amount of inception had already happened so the battle was well under way by that time. But those moments were crucial. #jojoisagenius
Going for ado one Thursday night was wonderful. Catching up with the study group on Monday was quite awesome. So was the SOW reunion dinner and LOG 9th anniversary. Times like these ground me and remind me where I have come from.
But there are only 24 hours in a day; and there had to be tradeoffs. It grated on me quite a bit when I missed Jon’s anniversary mass, Fri’s sharing & supper, other suppers, when I became a little out of touch and hardly attended weekday mass.
And maybe I can justify missing these things because of my role in the rehearsals. But the truth is I am prioritising Law IV – because of its transience. And that leads me to the the next point.
Mono no aware. Some things don’t last. Some things aren’t meant to. And I keep thinking that this might be one of those things.
I first joined Law IV to be on stage, to check “performing a musical” off my bucket list. But now the stage has infiltrated life (in more ways than I wish to conscious of); and I find myself treasuring the life – the memories, the efforts, the friendships – more than the stage. I treasure it all the more because it is transient. I wish to revel in it while I still can. Because these common circumstances, this intensity of working so determinedly towards something bigger than ourselves – all this will end with the show.
I understand a lot more now what a friend once told me when he was drifting – that he did so not because he didn’t treasure our friendship. Instead, he still saw me as a good friend, and trusted the friendship enough to know that it could last while he devoted his time to his present circumstances while he still could.
I see clearly now from his view; but I still remember my own at that time. I remember feeling hurt and rejected. And when I was told a few days ago that my life “can’t be so segmented”, that hit me quite hard. So I am left quite torn between the old and the new – clinging on to old friendships on one end and cherishing the little I have left on the other.
But perhaps things will turn out differently. Maybe our intentionality can rebut the presumption that plague cliques forged through the intensity of common circumstances. And as a tribute to that faint hope, here’s a list of memories that I wish to immortalise. In no order of priority (except maybe no. 1 and no. 15):
- Roasted mushmellow jocks and other SNAGs
- Interrogations and stories
- Praying for Law IV and friends
- Conversations about God on the way home
- Tears and goosebumps
- Finale Movement 2
- Jojo’s bridge
- Waffles & LV Blankets
- A directed haircut
- Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
- Secret rooms, secret entrances and introverts
- The Airport Saturday
- Lifts and car rides
- Blue Team+++ <3