Thursday, August 03, 2006


Digitally altered photo by S. Auberle
an outdoor screen, no artist's name


Some words of wisdom from Trudy, the bag lady in Jane Wagner's zany, incredibly wise play: The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. Years ago, I was lucky enough to see Lily Tomlin in the original stage version in Chicago, playing all the characters, in an amazing one-woman performance.

The following is taken from the book: Meeting the Madwoman by Linda Schierse Leonard:

"We meet Trudy the bag lady on a street corner, where she catches us turning away from her, trying to avoid her eyes. She confronts us head-on about our prejudices toward her. She knows we think her voice is too loud, that she scratches too much, that her teeth are poor, and that her eyes twirl like "fruit flies." Trudy tells us that she yells because no one listens to her, and she scratches because she is on fire with creative energy. If we think she is crazy because she carries around junk, Trudy counters: "what should we call the ones who BUY it?"

Trudy believes that everyone secretly asks themselves whether they are crazy; the difference between Trudy and those who think she is mad is that she acknowledges her madness: "Goin' crazy was the BEST thing ever happed to me. I don't say it's for everybody: some people couldn't cope."

Her madness came when nothing in her life was working. It was a gift, as Socrates described: "a divine release of the soul from the yoke of custom and convention." Released from "reality" in this way, Trudy now refuses to be "intimidated" by it. She thinks it is the leading cause of stress. "After all," she asks, "what is reality anyway?" Nothin' but a collective hunch."

Trudy says her greatest insight is: " the moment you are most in awe of all there is about life that you don't understand, you are closer to understanding it all than at any other time."

And, as Trudy says: "see, the human mind is kind of like ...a pinata. When it breaks open there's a lot of surprises inside. Once you get the pinata perspective, you see that losing your mind can be a peak experience."

Check out the video, read the book, you're in for a treat. And you'll go through this zany, scary, screwy world more lightly, I promise you.

- mimi


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