The Journey to Exist

By Dore Ann Mendelsberg, Exist’s Hypatia and Interstellar Chorus Line

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“To understand just one human life, you must first swallow the world.”
— Salman Rushdie

I’ve made a career of putting my hand up at odd moments, saying “I’ll do that.”  When I saw Natalie’s call for actors in a circus-based production about the cosmology and mythology of the constellations the last time I’d seen Natalie was the day we met, at a friend’s wedding 16 years ago and I hadn’t been on stage even longer.  Also, I was in Belize planning to spend the next few months in Mexico. But I put my hand up, read the script, said yes, started learning my lines on the boat, slept on the bus, got on a plane, kept learning my lines in the car, and four days later, landed in Tucson and went to my first rehearsal.  Dropping into Tucson has felt a bit like being a comet, crash landing from outer space.

I’ve been a nomad for the last decade and spent the last three years on a full-time spiritual journey toward purpose and meaning.  I’ve spent over a year in India practicing yoga full-time. I’ve spent forty days in silence learning to meditate. I’ve studied Advaita Vedanta, Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra,  Thai massage and energy healing. I’ve dived into shamanic ritual and plant medicine, conscious community and spiritual partnership. The spiritual journey is the journey inward and the lessons of the sages all align in their own constellation with the astronomical truth presented by this show.  The entire Universe exists within each and every one of us. Matter is just energy in form. Everything is made of stars.

I’ve also learned that the journey is never a straight line but a spiral, zeroing in on something before arcing away, before returning again to view the same point from a slightly different perspective.  I was raised in Unitarian Universalist faith where I was encouraged to investigate what I believed in community. It was at the wedding of one of those community members where in 2003 I met Natalie, the show’s director and co-writer.  It’s been a long and spiraling road but as usual it's arc is a map of perfection. I’ve always wanted to join the circus.