Next To Normal; Seeing Others In Their Own Shoes
Last night I went with a friend to see LA’s last performance of Next to Normal, winner of 3 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. The musical is about mental illness. A subject one wouldn’t usually associate with singing – there is no dancing in this musical.
My friend, who is also a therapist and I really enjoyed the musical. As I was driving home we talked about mental illness and finding acceptance and peace in our own lives.
One of the great values of films and plays is the opportunity they offer us to see situations and relationships through others points of view. They create a safe environment – because we are not personally involved – and then present us with a situation played out by the different characters.
In my life I have been close to a few people suffering from mental illness.
Years ago I too had a toss around the mat with anxiety and depression. But while my mental state was temporary that is not the case for many others. Seeing Next to Normal reminded me of the internal struggles and demons people suffering from any form of mental illness have to deal with on a daily basis. Being able to relate by taking into account their world is called compassion.
We humans suffer from the syndrome that also affects dogs; “I’m the center of the universe and everything exists for me and about me.” But living a more balanced life requires the ability to step outside our own universe and offer understanding to others. In doing so, we take a step towards acknowledging our differences and honoring them.
The last thing I said before my friend got out of the car was that I had found a higher level of acceptance in my own life. Rather than turning to anger and complaint for all the pain I have had, I have made the choice to turn to accepting life’s rhythm. Good and bad, up and down, are all notes in the same music scale which creates beautiful music when all the notes are used in harmony.