Working Hard is a Work in Progress

Dreams can get shattered by reality, but, all we can do, is stand back up, and not get beaten down by life, translated…

An older schoolmate whom I’d gotten to know when I was studying in Paris wrote me a very long message, he’d recalled the good times we’d shared together first: there were two years when we’d gathered once every week, read and studied the scripts, as well as the critiques of the plays too, discussed our performances.  He was training me in writing in French, and I, shared with him what I’d gained from my miming lessons.

an uphill climb…

My older classmate has a background in the literary, he’d spoken, with such flair, such confidence too, loved quoting the greats.  He has this flair about him that made him higher than the rest, and because he didn’t like how pedantic his instructors’ thoughts were, he’d chosen to drop out of school.  He spent a year working part-time at the café, thinking about his own life, then decided to go for his drama degree, believed firmly, that “drama is a work in progress, and more direct than reality.”

And, he’d found his realm in creation, during those two years, I’d encountered him when he was staying up all night, studying the drama.  He has dark circles around his eyes, messy hair, unkempt clothes, didn’t care about the minute details of life, and the suite he’d rented was filled up with books, cigarette butts, beer cans, the “necessities for one’s own inspiration”.  For someone who’d just, entered into the study of dramatics, my older classmate who became more like a mentor was, my idol, I saw in him, who I wanted to become, partially.  Several years ago, as I graduated and made up my mind about heading back to Taiwan, my older classmate laughed and told me, “Don’t worry, I will, get you back here to act in my script, we will, make ourselves, known, to the world.”  The words he’d spoken, full of confidence, and that shine in his eyes had, stayed where it was since.

After I’d come back to Taiwan, I’d started my own performing career, for over a year’s time, I’d not heard from him.  As I received another letter from him, he’d returned back, to work, in that café again, he’d become, more cynical of the world, and, there’s this, scent of wanting to change but can’t, that I’d never seen on him before.   “We’re all just, hunted.” He’d ended his letter to me.

As I was, stumbling and falling, on the path of drama and performance art, and when I felt I couldn’t get through, I’d written him to ask for advice and encouragement, he’d told me, “Come back to Paris, I’ll wait for you!”, I’d asked him, “Is, everything all right?”  he’d replied, “Everything’s fine, when are you coming back?”, and, this sort of romantic thought became so weak, and he’d never talked about the drama and the playwriting anymore, he’d not produced anything more either; toward my performances here in Taiwan, he’d only left words, “Great!” or “Good for you!”, on the official website.  I’d asked him, if he’d stopped, creating?  He’d replied, life itself, is a creation all its own, there’s no need to embellish.

not my artwork…

In a blink of an eye, a decade flew by, we are now, marching into our midlife, and, the mindset we had when we were younger are no longer the same, because of the demands that came with our coming of age.  As I’d slowly constructed up my own small theatre troupe, hesitated on whether or not I should give up my ideals, my older classmate worked his odds and ends, and lived on the French government assistance for year on end.  And, in his writings, there’s this, new found sense of cynicism, and that inability to make a change to his own life.

He’d started counting the work he’d created, they were all written before I left, the words with the photos of the sets, it’s like, he was, doing a review of his days of glory.  Then, in the last passage, he wrote, “My dear friend, I’m so envious that you were able to find a path of yourself.  This world is more than fair, but also, unfair too.  When are you coming back to Paris?”

I can’t know what he meant by fair and unfair, I’d not wanted to prod him further.  After he’d written this long winding message to me, I’d just, sat quietly, by my keyboard, and tapped out my replies, “Dearest friend, my current economic status wouldn’t allow me to go to Paris yet, I’m still working on it, and, working on it, is a work in progress in itself.”

So, this, is how quickly life falls, and, this friend of the narrator, he had a grandiose vision of how he will turn out when he was still studying in school, but, as the days dragged on, he realized that there are so many things standing in the way of his dreams, and, eventually, he’d given up on trying to fulfill his own dreams, and, just, settled down, while the narrator made something of himself, doing what he loved…

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