Children of Someone Else's Children
I’m my father’s son. I look like him, I make the same kinds of jokes as he does, and we say “hello” the same way whenever we answer the phone so that people always confuse us. I picked up a lot from him, and it makes sense, I look up to him a lot. But I don’t tell him that. I don’t tell my family a lot of things. No matter how supportive they are or how many mannerisms I’ve picked up from them, there’s still a large disconnect between us. What if there was a way to bridge that gap?
Watching 600 Highwaymen’s The Fever, a story of human connection told through flowing sections of audience participation and text made me feel extremely emotional. It’s astounding, really, that the performance threw its audience headlong into the world that was being constructed especially because we were asked to participate in the creation of that world. What is it about standing on stage that makes us so vulnerable and real? What opens us up to these complex thoughts and feelings that come from simple suggestion? It’s like a form of hypnotism wherein the audience both feels free to do what they wish and susceptible to any suggested thoughts or feelings.
At one point, a person was referred to as “the child of someone else’s child” in the midst of a section that questioned how we change as people growing up. We grappled with memories, thoughts, ideas, and the evolution of the human mind as it ages and experiences new pieces of life. But it all starts with those who raise us. Our parents, biological or otherwise, leave a huge imprint on us by their presence of lack thereof.
When my classmate stepped forward as the “youngest” audience member, he became the “child.” I watched as this child was taught to perform a series of motions, a tiny dance, in his own unique way, a way that signaled that everything we do is unique to us. When another person joined him, it was as if another child, the child of the child, had been born. And this child performed the same tiny dance in her own unique way. And there I saw a bit of myself both the same and different from my family of origin.
Despite the tears and the regrets, I know it will be a while before I’m able to cross the rift between my parents and me. I'll tell themhow much they mean to me, even if they kind of know it already. The Fever with its revelatory humanity made me come one step closer. The goal of the work isn't healing but perceiving and understanding: to expand how we look at the issues we face from day-to-day and life-to-life. As the windows in the house of the heart open, perhaps a door will blow open and we will finally let someone in.