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I am seated in a full theater, for the first time again in years. It's a familiar feeling: taking my seat, watching the still empty stage with anticipation, seeing the audience come in. And it's a familiar feeling, too, imagining how the actors behind the stage are doing just when the play is about to begin. For I once was one of them. Only for a very short time, though, but I dipped my toe into this world nonetheless.

The play is excellent. I'm crying like most of the times when I visit the theater. I'm touched, by the music and by the friends who I know from acting school and that are now standing on this big stage like we used to dream of a few years ago. They made it, I didn't.

I also had this dream of the big stage. Of a life as an actress and musician. But this dream changed in the course of the last years. I consciously turned my back on this world because another, stronger dream of mine settled in with me: the dream of a life in and with nature.

Silvana Candreia im Stück "Polarrot" des Theater Basel
I used to be an actress for a short period of time.

During the course of last year a word that I hadn't known until then caught my eye every so often: "Anemoia". Just hearing this word made me feel things and when I learned its meaning, I knew that I would want to write about it someday, because it described something I felt, but that I wasn't aware of feeling. Do you understand that?

Anemoia refers to a feeling of nostalgia for a time you never knew. It's the longing for memories that you never made and some sort of melancholy of the un-lived versions of your life.

Anemoia refers to a feeling of nostalgia for a time you never knew.

Probably you also had dreams as a kid or as a ten or five year younger version of yourself that never came true. And perhaps you mourned them or perhaps you also learned that that's life. From my own experience I can say that I'm grateful for most of my failed or incomplete dreams as mostly other dreams evolved from the broken pieces. And if not I can still feel that I wouldn't be at this exact point in my life without them because I'm now living a dream I have been dreaming for years.

Nevertheless there's the feeling of anemoia, a feeling of some sort of grief that some of the dreams I had when I was younger - like the dream of being an actress - didn't really come true. Don't get me wrong! I know that I'm on my right path and I would never want to go back, but this "I" also entails the twenty-five year old version of me who longed for the theater world and who really wanted this. The version of me who saw herself on stage, surrounded by creative and eccentric people. Who took on different roles, re-invented herself and who wanted to live this free life as an artist. But at some point on my way I decided against that dream because it didn't feel right anymore. Regardless I notice, sitting in the dark theater and watching the wonderful actors on stage, that I'm sometimes mourning this version of myself that I maybe could have been.

On this evening in the theater I feel my younger actress-version sitting next to me and looking at me questioningly. Do you miss it? I cannot give an exact answer to that question. Life isn't black or white, but shows up in many different hues of grey. Anemoia is grey. Yes, I miss it and I ask myself how it might have been and no, I don't miss it because I'm happy with the life I created for myself. But I can also see that my decisions don't have to be either or as I unconsciously thought: If I decide to go in this direction, I cannot go in the other. What if it was an "as well as"? Perhaps my current path and the one of my theater-self can meet again. Perhaps we can find a hybrid-variation of our paths, theater and nature. Who knows...

And in all this melancholy I find it also interesting to see the different versions of myself and to recognize that I always have the choice to decide which one I want to live. I think all of us are multifaceted creatures, all of us could have chosen many different paths and it would have been ok. I even believe that some paths would have met again so that we would have arrived at the same place, just with a little detour or maybe also with a shortcut.

Anemoia is a beautiful feeling, somehow. Beautiful and sad at the same time. And it lets me travel. To other times, to the different storylines of my life. Sometimes I talk to my different versions. I ask questions, listen to their hopes and dreams and I tell them stories about my life and that I'm doing really well on the path that I have chosen. But all of these versions are also showing me that there are unlimited crossroads and that I can always choose the "as well as"-roads.


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