In the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s “Macbeth,” Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene is a stunner. The opera was one of the last performances I saw in that house before the Met closed its doors because of the pandemic. In this particular scene, Lady Macbeth relives the past crimes she and her husband have committed. She is sleepwalking but is being observed by her handmaiden and her doctor. Except for these two standing to the side, the stage is bare when she enters. She steps onto a chair and begins her aria. As she starts walking, she stares straight ahead, and servants carrying chairs appear from all sides, strategically placing them in her path. Imagine the trust necessary for a performer to be confident that when she takes that step off one chair, another will appear before her. There can be no hesitancy or looking down as that would distract from the drama. Trust it must be.
Trust means allowing vulnerability. Relationships don’t work without trust and they don’t work unless both parties are willing to be vulnerable. Building trust requires time, patience, and work. Those (like me) who need to feel a sense of control, often have difficulty showing vulnerability. But to achieve real intimacy and trust with friends and loved ones one needs to show that vulnerability. Sometimes those friends and loved ones will let us down, but we know that we can rely on them when it counts. That’s trust.
At this moment of my life I am putting great trust in my doctors. They are making all of the decisions, even though they are giving me choices and all of the vulnerability in on my side of the equation. They are invariably caring and kind, and I am confident that I am listened to and that my concerns are not being dismissed out of hand. My chief oncologist always starts with a joke. “Why do ducks have feathers? To cover their butt quacks.” I love that about him. The jokes aren’t that funny, but his smile lights up the room. He’s making himself vulnerable.
Is it true that a long night’s sleep and a good laugh are the best cures in the world?