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Act Three

David Weir

I'd been driving in the city, parked somewhere, and walked into a theater. A play began; everybody wore bright lipstick but no one spoke. They were acting out in mime. Afterward a priest walked up and down the aisle. He stopped at my seat and told me that I had "it" and that I was critical. I asked what that meant and he said he didn't know but maybe I should stay home from work.

I stumbled out of that place and landed at an open-air cafe where people were waiting for food. A homeless woman took a liking to me and kissed me on the lips.

Don't do that, I said, you might get sick.

A man helped me get away from there but I had to start crossing a street shaped like a pentagon, which proved nearly impossible. Who shall I call at work, I thought. My assistant! No, wait, I don't have an assistant. Then it hit me. There was no work. Then it hit me again. I'd forgotten where I had parked the car.

Then it really hit me. I didn't have a car.

broken image

After a dream like that, I'm not sure I should publish the essay I had ready, because it was filled with bravado and hope. But here it is anyway:

Lately I have been telling friends that I am ready for my "third act." So far nobody has asked what that means, but I should probably try to explain anyway.

For starters, I've given up of trying to figure out whether life is like a movie or vice versa, since it doesn't really matter; we're all the lead characters in any event.

Most us will, as in the movies, eventually face a moral dilemma, such as whether to stay or to go. Goodbye or hello. Stay with the old or embrace the new.

In my case, looking backward for just a moment, the first two acts stand out very clearly. There were certain involvements, high points and low moments, dramas and resolutions. Through all of that I evolved and maybe even matured.

Now, in Act Three, the slate has been more or less wiped clean. I'm not sure I'm a better person but I've certainly shed most of the baggage. Meanwhile, I occasionally get the impression people expect me to quietly disappear .

Won't happen. I now live life day by day according to a routine. Each day starts with a blank slate. I write on it.

Sometimes I already know what that is going to be; other times I am clueless. Some days, the headlines get me going; other days, it's someone's comment.

One way or another the essay, once started, writes itself. All I do is move the words around; like an infant with her blocks, I like to play with words. But also like an infant I want them to matter.

The writing process is lonely so I try to be around other people when I'm done writing.

Writing reaches people, connecting us as if we were meeting in person.

And it's meeting in person that truly animates my life, and I assume, other people's as well. That is what my third act will be about, assuming pandemics stay at bay.

I want to connect with people as if I were 14 again or 40. I am choosing those ages for specific reasons, because I was extremely open at those times to changing my life completely in order to feel more complete. And I'm ready for that again.

I just don't know who I'm going to be doing it with this time around.

Okay so there is the essay but why did I have that dream?

David Weir is a journalist who has worked and published at Rolling Stone, Salon,, The New York Times, The Nation, Mother Jones, New York, New Times, SunDance, and many other publications and sites. He is a co-founder of the Center for Investigative Reporting and the author of four books.