Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.
In this retrospective, I revealed that I have a rather large ego. When I’m not suffering suicidal depression, that is. And I’ve had genuine friends and genuine loves before college. But No Shame is the first thing I loved more than myself. No, it was myself. Its artistic failings transformed into my moral failings. Even when guided by the capable hands of Zach Steil, No Shame became my life’s work, and it was little better off than it was in 2013. I saved LATTE; why couldn’t I save No Shame Theater?
Speaking of LATTE: Felicia Pfluger visited me while I recovered from surgery. We began the catching-up process. LATTE has been her life these past few years. Its stresses combined could not outweigh her joy in running it. I asked her how LATTE was doing, and we talked about it, but then, in the middle of conversation, a revelation came to me, as if in burning, miraculous letters across the dark clouds in the heavens:
I DIDN’T CARE.
I hadn’t seen a LATTE show in years. The bridges I hadn’t crossed, I had burned. What I did care about were the people in LATTE. Hyperactive newcomers in 2010 that became bonafide stars in 2017. New kids bringing a galaxy of characters within them. I don’t know if Felicia Pfluger is any happier before or after LATTE. But she abandoned any future she might have had to help me save the theater troupe. That was what mattered now. It was never about theater, it was about how the theater changed us. How the theater compelled her to visit this disheartened, lost kid, recovering from surgery, wanting to know if he had ever made a difference.
Here’s how No Shame changed me. I didn’t become a better leader. I’ve always just wanted to write, even as it began to feel more like work. But now I know the truth. I want to write with everyone. Creating a skit with a partner, through the Docs part of the No Shame email, were the highlights of my last year in Iowa. It’s the first passion I found, possibly ever, that didn’t feel like work. I could express myself without shutting myself away from the world. I don’t need to wave a No Shame flag to enjoy TJ’s wit, or Tristan’s bravery, or Jacy’s spirit, or Cayla’s energy, or John’s inquisitiveness, or Zach’s determination, or Michelle’s honesty. I just needed myself. I needed love for myself first. Every single one of us here is greater than any theater group. I can’t recall anything I’ve given more love to than No Shame. So I’m sorry, darling, but it’s time I saw other friends. It’s not you. It was never you. It was always me.
There. I did it. The one thing I’ve never been able to do at No Shame: Speak from the heart.
That’s not true. If I’m honest, I’ve spoken from the heart maybe too many times. No, this is the one thing I’ve done that I’ve never done before: I learned to let go.