Everyone else is out getting their Sundance party on, and I’m inside watching a documentary.
And what an spectacular documentary. I can’t tell you the last time I smiled for two hours staight. Or cried. Or felt this inspired. For “Wrestling With Angels,” Oscar-winning documentarian Freida Lee Mock spent three extraordinary years with one of my heroes, playwright Tony Kushner.
What an inspirational man. He somehow sews together so many disperate elements of my world. Take Maurice Sendak. I love “Where The Wild Things Are.” It was a hugely important book to me as a kid, especially when my parents divorced. Well, Kushner and Sendak are friends, and collaborators. And New York. And politics. And Bethesda. Bethesda! The documentary shows him standing there in front of her, in the exact place I stand every time I run past Her. And as I watch this I feel my eyes well up, and I want them to, and a tear rumbles down my face. And I want it to. I want to feel something. And I do. Deeply.
He is constantly seeking, striving, and becoming. He is constantly pushing. “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Now! Now! Now!” he tells Vassar graduates in his commencement speech. He writes plays, ambitious, amazing, courageous, and powerful plays. My mother dragged Chris and I to “Angels In America.” I remember that New York City felt different when I stepped out of the theater. That’s what great art does. It makes everything different.
As I watch him hail a cab on 70th and Amsterdam, and walk through Strawberry Field, I think to myself, ‘We’re neighbors. I am him. He is me. I can be him. It’s not over. I’m not done.’ “Heartland,” and the resulting post-partum depression, is not the end. I can still be creative. I will still be creative. I can keep making art: books, and records, and documentaries. I’m just getting started for God’s sake.
Walking home, the sky was full of stars, the air was brisk, and smelled of fireplaces. Way up on the mountain, a lone snow cat’s headlight tracked across the slope like a meteor. And I thought, ‘This is why I come here.’ Not for the twenty-three hour days. Not for the pressure, or the anxiety. To be restored. To be inspired. To be surprised by beauty just around the corner.