Last year, when Jenni and I called The Facing Project headquarters with ideas about what we’d like our project to be about, I was a little nervous. We were sitting in my car, parked outside the Utah Conservation Corps house early in the morning, with her speaker phone on. Time zone differences and back-to-back meeting necessitated a car-conference-call that day.
We chose to do this project about depression for a few reasons, and that’s what made me nervous. How can you carefully share stories that have been hidden, that have been rejected, that have never been shared with strangers before? And when I say carefully, I don’t mean tip-toeing-around-something-for-fear-of-offending-or-scaring-folks-off, I mean, with care. We were about to plow head first into a project that would require volunteers to reach into experiences that had drilled them to their cores. It would require them to sit, face-to-face, with someone they didn’t know, and trust them within seconds of meeting them. It would require us to trust other volunteers to be unflinching, trustworthy, and full of care.
Who on earth would participate in something like this?
As it turns out, twenty-seven volunteers willingly stepped forward, as many volunteer writers, and others who’ve lent us their fundraising, designing, theater, and grant-writing expertise. This network surrounding us listened to our stories, our frustrations, our victories, and our awe at the lives of the people who talked to us.
In the last minute, late night frenzy of copy-editing before sending the giant PDF to the printer, it hit me that I had never seen a book like this in my hometown of Logan. It hit me that I’d never seen a performance on stage of stories given to actors by people I knew. I hadn’t been in the thick of this project the entire time, but I started to see what a project like this could do for this place I call home.
I’m still a little nervous that everyone will think that coming to listen to actors perform monologues and scenes about depression sounds like a terrible idea. I’m nervous that our beautiful copies of the collection of stories will spend more time in their boxes than in the hands of people who will allow themselves to be touched by others’ words. I’m nervous that the difference we want to make won’t happen.
If I learned anything from our storytellers, though, it’s that each day will take care of itself. After all the work that I can do, I shouldn’t fret about controlling what happens after something leaves my hands, because that will get me nowhere.
We’d love to see you at our performances next week, open to seeing what life is like for your neighbors, family, and friends that have experience with depression.