As most of you probably know, I love acting. I’m serious about it–not serious enough to move to New York City or Hollywood–but when I’m given the opportunity, I take it quietly and carefully package it in a little box with a bow and take it out each night and smile at what’s inside. Acting is my escape from my own reality. It’s always worked out for me so far.
I’m in a play on Halloween weekend. We’ve been rehearsing about six weeks so far. I can’t say it’s my biggest role or the most important or even my favorite, but it has stretched me beyond my high-school mentality. My reality is such right now that no amount of acting can make me forget it. I can’t rely on Miss Marple to help me escape. And as a result, I’ve forgotten her completely.
I sat back last week contemplating the fast approach of opening night and realized that I didn’t know Miss Marple at all. I knew her lines. I knew superficial facts–what she was doing between scenes one and two, who her favorite relative was, what her favorite color was, etc. But I didn’t know her outside of rehearsal.
So on Friday I devoted the entire day to Miss Marple. She is normally an early riser. Old habits die hard. But after an evening spent tossing and turning, she allowed herself the luxury of a later morning. People look at Miss Marple and think she’s a flighty old woman. Once they get to know her, some think she’s just a busy body. What they don’t realize is that she remains awake at night, worrying about her finances. Her nephew shouldn’t have to keep spending money on her rheumatism treatments. She picks through the scenes of the previous day, wondering what she could have done differently to save that life, chastising herself for not noticing the clues sooner. She carries a load of guilt on her shoulders that she has to shed every morning before breakfast. On this particular Friday morning, she woke up and wondered how her life would have been different if she had run off with that Spanish monarch instead of staying in St. Mary Mead to be a busy old spinster.
But Miss Marple is very practical. She forgets worthless thoughts like these and fixes herself a cup of white coffee along with a hearty breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, and fruit toast. Among the many errands she has to run, she takes time to visit the social hub and knit more of the purple scarf she’s working on. She fixes a warm cup of tea in the afternoon and puts on her fuzzy socks before taking a short nap. Miss Marple loves people. If someone asks her to tour the underground tunnels at 10:00 at night, regardless of her bed time, she will go. Her awareness of people is what makes her an incredible sleuth.
When she went to bed on Friday night, she could rest in a productive day.And that rest was exactly what I needed myself after a week of failure and believing lies. Sometimes the greatest thing you can do is divorce yourself from yourself for a day.