Milestones: On TWINE & Commencement

This is a good year for milestones. It’s only July, and already, I have performed in a musical (bucket list item), written a full length play, got my only A in uni (for a non-lawmod; what does that indicate huh), written and co-directed a musical (albeit an amateur one), traveled solo, graduated with an LLB, and cut myself with a shaver for the first time. By the end of the year, God willing, I would have swam with whales (dream come true, kinda), completed a marathon (another bucket list item), and taken the bar exam.

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<3 Charles Santoso’s art. Incidentally, my gravatar pic.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Updates!

TWINE

TWINE was a bittersweet experience until the very end. Early on in May, before intense rehearsals had started, I sent out a long 10-paragraph email On Expectations, Understanding & Spirit. I don’t think I expected how hauntingly prophetic these words would be.

2. … Many of us are only starting to realise the sheer magnitude of what we are attempting here, and honestly,

3. we are out of our depth. We have neither the experience nor the capacity to do something like this. Every single one of us is doing something that we have never done before – directing, writing, composing, acting, dancing, singing. Ideally, I would have requested for a year to do this. But we only have mere weeks. And everyone has crazy schedules. This has two implications.

4. ONE, each of us really has to give it our all. Trust me when I say this: Rachel, Lou, Mad, Poey, James and I are seriously working at our max capacities. As we move into the rehearsal phase, we now need both cast and chorus to come on board…

8. TWO, God is the master architect. If no one knows what he or she is really doing, if we are all stumbling together in the dark, then the only way that fruits are gonna emerge from this ridiculously ambitious project is if God is the one leading, rather than any of us. I vacillate between feeling anxious and feeling excited, because of just how big this whole thing is. Seriously, only with God’s grace will we pull this off.

9. Thus, there is much to be hopeful about. We are a long long way from anything of quality, but already, the cogs are gaining momentum. The script is tightening, music and lyrics are being churned out, a full dance has been choreographed, a first (and rather enjoyable) rehearsal has occurred. I wish everyone could have my point of view, to marvel at how much effort and dedication is being put in, to see the end in sight, and to trust audaciously that God will continue to work His wonders.

10. So please pray. Let us purify our intentions: this is a spiritual endeavour and we are building God’s kingdom. There is nothing more to TWINE. We are simply evangelising.

Magis, guys!

As intense rehearsals (read: rehearsal every night) began, I could only marvel at my script coming alive as the different elements came together.

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But I also felt so alone.

One night after rehearsal, my friend asked me if he could give me feedback. I said yes. I love getting feedback. Or so I tell myself. (I really do like honest and specific feedback. Most of the time.) So he told me some stuff. And I said ok. Then he told me more stuff.

When TWINE was first mooted, I declared early on that I did not want to be involved. I knew that I would be the arrowboard, after learning all that I did in Law IV. I also knew that our timeframe would be too tight to realise my dreams, after learning all that I did in Law IV. And I did not want to settle for something less than what I dreamed of.

I got arrowed anyway. So I got on board the team, and told everyone that a musical was too ambitious, and that we should just do a play.

Point is, we were all working under constraints (see email [3]). And I was the last person to want to work like that. I wanted ideal conditions. I wanted to create a masterpiece. And I thought I was hurt that my accuser did not acknowledge just how much of a dream I had abandoned in settling for this year’s TWINE.

But I suspect I was more hurt more by who was giving the criticism, rather than what the criticism was. Because if I had to take the criticism in stride, I had to be strong. I could not be weak. I could not be vulnerable. I could not share my struggles. And if I could not share with my closest friends, precisely because the criticism is coming from them, then I could not share with anyone at all. It is a lonely thing to be at the top indeed.

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I was praying amidst all this, of course. I am one of those blessed people whose being increase with doing (may this not be a self-delusion). So I recognised the undercurrent of joy even while my to-do lists (yes, plural) foamed at the surface.

But there wasn’t that unadulterated flow, that intense carelessness of focussing solely on the present (because being fully in the present is what you are rehearsing for when you are acting or singing or dancing). There wasn’t the heavy and consuming joy that Justin described in doing something he enjoyed as part of a larger whole. I felt that at Law IV. I missed that. And I kept comparing it to being a producer/director/manager/whatever-I-was at TWINE.

Then it was show day, and the affirmations began rolling in. Even then, I doubted our work – whether the show was more for our glory than for God’s, and I doubted our fruits – whether people were simply saying nice things.

God transfigured all of that. (He probably knew that He had to do something drastic to get through my cynicism.) The next day, while praying after mass, I felt a sense of wellbeing. (I’m not the kind that get these sensings; so when I get something, I really sit up and pay attention.) I felt affirmed, I felt appreciated, and most of all, I felt God saying: you all did good. That made me really happy – happier than all the affirmations we had received thus far. That made all the bitterness of administration and people management worth it.

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And now I am thinking of doing it all over again. Ok fine, I was already thinking about it before TWINE ended. I just have a mystical imprimatur now to motivate me.

Commencement

I mention this only for the record. If not for my parents, I would be perfectly content to be all I’m-too-cool-for-this and skip graduation. On hindsight, I’d probably feel a bit sad not being part of the class photo. But oh wells. I attended, survived, and even chatted with El (with my bro as backup). #achievementunlocked

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Plus I guess the photos were worth it.

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About Mel

I dreamt I was a whale. https://melvynfoo.wordpress.com/about-mel/