There was an “extra body” at many of the sessions when Trish Watts brought her vocal magic to Seattle in June, 2012. Not everyone knew the details, but many folks present were aware there had been a rollover crash during Memorial-Day weekend, and Sharie had walked away—injured but alive. Some knew that Laura, who’d been driving the car when it rolled, was also participating in the weekend’s events. It wasn’t planned, but the accident ended up being an extra ‘participant’ in some of our sessions. When Sharie and Laura both were in the center of the circle being sung over, or involved in a group contact hand dance, there was the accident as well—adding layers of meaning to each activity and how they unfolded.
The day after the accident, we talked about doing a side-by-side story about it “someday.” But how do you do an authentic Interplay side-by-side story about something so serious without dragging down everyone who’s watching? What’s the goal, and how do you go about ‘playing with your stuff’ in a situation like this? And wouldn’t it be risky inviting two different perspectives on the same accident without at least some pre-planning? What if a joke went awry, or was taken personally by the other player or seen as inappropriate? What if we weren’t both ready to play with this material?
As it turned out, we weren’t both ready to play with it—until Saturday night. We learned about the hard work that goes into authentic, healing play: honest conversation, tears, risk-taking, support. The story, when it came, brought the witnesses into the accident experience with us—which gave some resolution to the dynamics present throughout the rest of the event. The story was both a vehicle (no pun intended) and an expression of our healing, as individuals and as friends. It was also a testament to the healing power of play: when we can speak and laugh and move and risk with our broken places, life becomes more easeful.
Here’s what the witnesses said about watching this side-by-side story:
- “Such a mixture of laughter and tears, honesty and integrity, humility and forgiveness. Thanks to InterPlay for providing forms for such truth-telling and transformation in play!”
- “I remember both of you being clear about your parts of the story, and I heard parts from both of you that I hadn’t heard before.”
- “It was alarming to hear again the story of the car turning over and then righting itself again, imagining the conditions and the hydroplaning.”
- “I heard Trish draw in her breath more than once as she listened, and then she said when you were finished, ‘let me just look at you for awhile.’”
- “I bet doing that side-by-side helped you both. It’s powerful in even more ways. I think it’s a story of reconciliation too. The fact that you were interested in doing that story says a lot about what you want in your relationship with each other. Once again, the Interplay form provided the structure for you to ‘play’ with all parts of this experience, and to move it and your connection to a new place.”
by “Laura from Portland” with input from others