Embracing Discomfort: A New Practice of Courage
Written by Tatiana Baccari // May 22nd, 2021
Today I am writing my 25th and final blog for Creative Pinellas. It is hard to believe that these seven months have come to an end. When I published my first blog on November 6th, 2020, I remember thinking: “How will I be able to write 24 more blogs? How could I have that much to say?” Well, it turns out that if you sit in front of a blank page on your computer for long enough, you will find something to say.
The words of my writing teacher, Darci Picoult, echo in my head: “Write every day. It doesn’t matter if you only write 3 lines. Just write.” And I suppose, in a way, that is what I have done.
I’ve written more in 2020 and 2021 than I have ever written. I think during COVID, when I couldn’t direct or be in rehearsals or work in the way I was accustomed to, writing became my creative outlet. Cultivating this practice has also been meditative and contemplative. It has become a channel for taking care of my mental and emotional health.
Looking back on my first and second blog, I am astounded by the ambitious goals I set for myself. In “On Why Writing About Your Work Matters,” I discussed how to distill an arts mission that communicates what you make and who you are into a short paragraph and why that is incredibly powerful. I am surprised by my clarity of insight (did that really come from my brain?) and also how much I was missing.
In my first blog, “Building a Life in the Arts,” I spoke with transparency about my familial and cultural background, how I have navigated my career so far, and my aspirations for my art-making. I am proud that I shared all this because at my core, I am a private person. Sharing vulnerable details about my life with strangers is not something I have ever done willingly.
I don’t think I achieved my lofty goal to imagine new ways to make and produce theater that deconstructs the old ways in which theatrical institutions have reinforced oppressive, elitist practices. I’m not sure I answered all of my questions either. But I still believe, deeply, that writing about my work matters. Not for the reasons I originally laid out. Yes, it is important to have a mission and an artist statement as a way of connecting with the outside world and the people in it, but writing about my work matters because it has opened something within me that is not for anybody else but me.
I know myself better than when I started. I realized that what I thought I should write about and what I actually wanted to write about were different. I found myself wanting to share more about me, my life, my struggles, and my dreams than ever before. Maybe that’s because this year was unbelievably difficult. Maybe that’s because there were so many moments over the last seven months where I questioned myself, where I felt like I was starting over, struggling to get through the day, and reassessing and rediscovering my goals and values.
That’s all to say that I am incredibly grateful to have had this space to share my thoughts. I am incredibly grateful to all of you who have taken the time to read these blogs, and especially to the folks who have reached out to convey how they resonated with you.
How will I carry this practice into my final project with Creative Pinellas? There is a lot brewing there, and I am a bit nervous about bringing it to fruition. How will I move forward with this practice beyond Creative Pinellas? I think of the words that Bryan Stevenson, the inspiring lawyer, social justice activist, founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, spoke on The Ezra Klein Show recently: “Nothing good has ever come from things that are easy. To do hard things, you gotta confront them. And so there’s no way forward at this moment in our history that doesn’t involve some discomfort and doesn’t involve some inconvenience. And you just have to find the capacity and the courage to embrace that.” Though this was said in the context of a prospective Truth and Reconciliation Commission addressing racism and slavery in the United States, I think this idea, that there’s a certain amount of truth-telling and discomfort that must come with doing good, has everything to do with our approach to art-making.
As my thinking, goals and values have evolved over the last 7 months, what has taken root is that I still want to know you and that I want you to know me. What do you dream about and what you are chiseling to get closer to day by day? I’m still grappling with these questions and I know that continuing on my path, making theater with integrity and equity, will not be easy. There will be discomfort. There will be hardship and probably, at times, scarcity. I will turn to this practice and to you all for collective courage. I hope, if you’re still reading this, that you’ll consider shooting me a message (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let me know what you’re thinking about as we continue to imagine this new world together.