encouragement · joy · life · theater

Reading Tea Leaves

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“If one advances confidently in the
direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he
will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things
behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws
will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be
expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will
live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he
simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and
solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.
If you have built castles in the
air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the
foundations under them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
This passage is torn off the side of a Celestial Seasonings
box of tea. They used to have a ton of quotes and passages, but in the last 10
years or so, changed their packaging.
In fact, I wrote to them once, when I noticed that the once-inspirational packaging was gone, to state my preference for the old, and also
to make a case for the flavor Cranberry Cove, which had dropped out of
production. I even searched Amazon and eBay for boxes people might have hoarded.
Growing up, I only drank Cranberry Cove tea when I was home
sick. I would hold a mug bigger than my hands under my face, inhaling the steam
and scent. My mom would stir in some honey, and it was comfort incarnate. When
I went home to NJ to pack up my childhood home in 2011 when my dad was selling
the house, I scoured the tea cabinet for any straggling remains of the boxes that had likely been there since the 90s. I found a much-bedraggled box about a third full, and
brought it back to Oakland with me. I have 3 bags left now, and I only drink that
tea under special circumstances, when I need my version of ultimate comfort.
I have in my kitchen cabinet a collection of passages torn
off tea boxes, and a few fortune cookie messages. I found them again about a
month or more ago, and going through them, I found the Thoreau one.
This was about the time that I was making my decision to
focus entirely on acting and theater as my artistic and impassioned outlet (and
source). I pinned the cardboard quote to my fridge with the San Antonio magnet
I bought in 2010 when I attended a conference, and in fact, performed in a play
with my friends.
I have a very specific style of the magnets I buy from
airports. They’re these 3-dimensional, near-cartoonish representations of the
city where I am. I don’t know why, but I love these best. There’s Singapore
pinning up my “time plan” for the week. There’s New Orleans, pinning up a page
from a magazine, a photo of a home with the word “yes” dotted all around it,
on everything in sight. YES. There’s Sydney, holding up a small note to myself
about how I want to manifest my gifts in the world, probably as a result of
some “What Color is your Parachute” exercise: create, organize, implement, get
messy, entice/encourage/invite.
There’s Maui and New York, and a magnet made of petrified
wood that I bought at the Petrified Forest in Arizona while driving/moving
cross-country in 2006.
Finally, there’s a magnet of the Serenity Prayer, and one
with a Hebrew prayer that was a gift, and I don’t know what it means, but it’s
pretty, and “spiritual.”
Under that magnet are cut-out words from the back of an
Ashby Stage program: “Oh my dear; Who’s ever ready?”
Who is ever ready to endeavor in the direction of their
dreams? Who is ever sure and confident that now is the time to begin? There is
no starting pistol or cosmic alarm signal to tell me, Yes, Molly, Now is the time.
There are only these small messages, these scraps of
encouragement and camaraderie culled from the pages of life.

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