bravery and acceptance

Barnard College Emily Gregory Award 2006, acceptance speech by (my aunt) Amy Trompetter
“You were born with your authentic self and your ethical integrity intact. You are moving from innocence to sophistication and deciding what are the realistic compromises that you must make in order to live in this imperfect world that you have inherited from past generations. My advice is to do puppetry, or something similar, which offers infinite possibilities to you.
“To recommend itself, puppetry offers no prestige and certainly no monetary gain. It is as labor intensive as the work of medieval artisans. As a puppeteer, you are assured of hard work and obscurity, which is very freeing as long as your passions are fully engaged in what you are doing. There is nothing to lose. The beauty of the work is its own reward and it will sustain you. Of course you do not have to be a puppeteer, but you must follow your heart. Do the life’s work that you are meant to do.
“Theater and puppetry demand not only the most labor-intensive and time- consuming dedication. Theatre workers must also study and know everything about history, art, music, movement, psychology, religion, languages, writing, dramaturgy, and so on. Theatre is by nature multi-disciplinary, and demands a life-long quest for knowledge. Every new production opens a whole new field of study. Idea drives good theater and the distillation of precise and profound idea enacted onstage is one of mankind’s most powerful means of communal expression.
“On the one hand, there is your well-developed intelligence, and on the other, the intelligence of the people and things around you. You can impose your own intelligence on your creative work, but when you begin to respond to the intelligence outside of your self, then your work will take off. There is an intelligence that is inherent in the universe, in nature, in each living being that you meet, in the materials that you work with. Puppetry has its own intelligence, which is almost too simple, and then on the flip side, it is the most mysterious and profound. It is easily missed, but not by Barnard students and not tonight. I interpret tonight’s award as an honor to a discipline called puppetry.
“These final words were left by a friend, on my answering machine as a horoscope reading before leaving for Russia. They may be the words of Gandhi. ‘Every moment of your life is infinitely creative and the universe is endlessly bountiful. Everything your heart desires will come to you, but only if you are a brave rebel who relentlessly resists the conventional wisdom.’

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