Marsha Rosenzweig Pincus is an educator and writer who has been teaching and coaching writers for over 40 years. The only Philadelphia teacher to be awarded Teacher of the Year two times ( 1988 and 2005 ), Marsha co-founded the highly successful Crossroads School within a School at Simon Gratz High School and was a Scholar of the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of teaching. Her students have won numerous writing awards and four of her high school students have had their original plays produced off-Broadway. As an instructor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, Marsha taught Teaching Methods and Practitioner Research classes to new and experienced teachers. She has lead workshops and seminars nationally on school reform, teaching writing and drama-in-education. Upon her retirement in 2011, Marsha began working as a Creative Consultant to writers and filmmakers while pursuing her own writing career. She developed and performed one- woman show about her teaching career, Chalkdust, in Santa Fe in 2015. In 2016, she moved to Santa Fe where she is sole proprietor of Two Ravens of Santa Fe, LLC., a boutique production company dedicated to producing films and plays which bring about enlightenment and positive change.
On the Corner of Eden and Grace, her first screenplay was named best screenplay in LA FEMME FILM FESTIVAL in 2022. Take the Reins, a feature length screenplay she developed with Michael Amundsen and Josephine, was recently optioned to INQ Spacers Inc, and Lovely Day Films, LLC. Holding Up the Moon: A Memoir in Haiku, published by Mandorla Books, based on Marsha’s popular daily haiku practice shared with her communities on Facebook and Instagram, is now available on Amazon.
A STORY — FROM ME TO YOU
November 21, 2022
The two minute video above was submitted as part of my application to Imagine Impact, an eight week boot camp for filmmakers, founded by Ron Howard and Brian Glazer in 2018. The stated mission was to discover new voices, give emerging writers access to industry mentors and accelerate content development to meet the demands of expanding streaming outlets.
At the time, even though I was 66 years old, I identified as an emerging writer, and as an older woman, someone whose stories were not often seen on screen. In my brief pitch, I talked about what it was like to live a life dedicated to the writing of others, and finally to arrive at a time to devote to myself. I also talked about the role older women play in a society – the “grand” mothers, who’ve attained wisdom through our lived experiences and who function as the conscience of the culture.
My application was rejected. And while the evaluators did not supply a reason, many of my friends speculated that I should not have lead with my age – that the ageism of the youth obsessed film industry guaranteed my rejection.
I do understand the issues involved here and how my friends were giving me practical advice, but in the years been 2018 and 2022, not only have I grown older, but the world has become more dangerous. The horror of mass shootings, the rising tide of fascism, the devastating storms, fires and floods exacerbated by climate change denial, and a global pandemic which is still causing the deaths of over 6,600,000 people worldwide are all conspiring to shake many people my age from our complacency.
We are individually and collectively re-evaluating how we want to live what’s left of our lives.
The time I spent in isolation during the worst part of the pandemic, accelerated my aging process even as it slowed down the pace of my daily life. As my strength and energy declined, I reconnected with my creativity, spending my days composing music on the piano, creating mosaics and collages in my art studio, and crocheting “corona quilts” for each of my four grandchildren. I listened to pod casts, took numerous zoom classes and read extensively trying to make sense of what was happening to me personally and to all of us. And I wrote every single day.
Still with this creative output, I heard the clock tick and felt the press of my own mortality.
I was fragmented, disconnected from myself and from the outer world. My life prior to March 2020 had been dynamic, full and deeply connected to others. I was at the height of my “third act” passing through Erickson’s 7th stage of life, making all the right choices at the intersection of generativity vs. stagnation. ( You can read about my life and my work in my third act here. )
Sadly, I felt as if I might be headed towards a clinical depression. But then I read the essay “The Pandemic is a Portal” by Arundhati Roy. In it, she notes that historically, pandemics have forced humans to reimagine the world. They can be portals to something entirely new. We can choose to “walk through it dragging the carcasses of our prejudices and hatred, our avarice and… dead ideas, dead rivers, and smoky skies behind us.” Or, we can imagine a new world and we can fight for it.
I didn’t know it then but Roy’s words closed the curtain on my third act and set the stage for my fourth. Soon after reading the essay, I had this dream:
I am a little girl, playing outside my house on a swing set. Suddenly, there is a silent flash, and in the instant following the burst of light, everything changes. It all looks the same to the eye, but my mind and body know there has been a major shift in what was once reality. I go inside to find my mother, but she’s not there. I turn on the television, and there on the screen is a light blue symbol. It is comprised of a perfect circle with four evenly spaced blue bars intersecting horizontally. The symbol gives me a feeling of hope, unity, wholeness and peace.
In the days that follow, I spend much of my time meditating on this symbol. I ask it questions and trust that answers will come. It leads me back to Erik Erikson’s work, only this time, it directs me to the 8th and final stage where I come to the crossroads of integrity vs despair. No longer will it be enough to produce works and deeds as a legacy for the next generation; those works and deeds will need to be complete, whole and integrated -– the final weaving together of the disparate pieces of my life.
Further exploration brought me back to Jung, whose book Man and His Symbols I discovered on a discount table in a book store when I was seventeen, and whose work has influenced my life at every stage. This time, I explore archetypes associated with the Self and wholeness, mandalas that signify the unification of opposites and the concept of “squaring the circle,” which Jung describes as a stage on the way to the unconscious, a point of transition leading to a goal, lying as yet unformulated beyond it.” It is a pathway to the center and beyond. It is the royal road to wholeness and the Self.
So this is where I am, writing this days before of my 70th birthday as I begin this new phase of my life. One of the gifts of living this long is seeing life from the long view; however, this perspective also comes with the unavoidable knowledge that there will be an ending.
I know my task: to create something unified and whole that represents my authentic life. And to do it with hope, love, humility and gratitude for being allowed by grace to live this life, this long, in this time.
If you’re here on my site, I believe it’s because you are a seeker of meaning too. Let’s connect! I’d love to hear what you are thinking and what you are creating, no matter your age or stage of life.