Katya Lidsky is one of our favorite people on the planet. She is passionate, driven, talented, creative, and a tireless ambassador for animal rights. Katya’s preferred method of advocating for animals is through theatre (hence our mental love affair with her). Her one-woman show, I’m Sorry: How An Apologist Became An Activist, has taken Los Angeles and New York City by storm. When we asked her to write a feature for Our Hen House, we knew it would be good. She’s a writer, after all. But we didn’t expect a poetic manifesto that somehow ties together her fears, desires, and her personal and political experiences — all with one central grandiose theme, animals. Clearly, it is that theme that makes Katya’s heart beat.
I Am a Haunted House
By Katya Lidsky
I am a haunted house. I live with truths no one wants to recognize, spirits I’m begging for people to see, memories I do not want to be forgotten. About how we treat animals. About how we’re falling short. About how compassion for them will better our whole world. This is what haunts me and keeps me up at night and keeps a little fire burning in my center. But most of the time people just pass me by in a hurry, shielding their eyes and pretending they can shuffle back to their normal lives without a second thought for my spooky troubles.
I am a haunted house. In my mind there are too many rooms filled with the things I’ve seen and the things I’ve heard, most of which I wish I never knew. Pictures of animals stuck outside, looking in, waiting for only one tiny moment of tenderness so that they can perhaps enter a warm home – a moment that too often never comes. So that they can perhaps be met with kindness – a moment that too often passes and vanishes. So that they can perhaps be spared – a moment that too often is not granted. Yet these animals wait, so patiently and hopefully, in the cold and in my mind; these animals keep waiting. They wait for our peace. And the sounds of suffering, the cries for help, the piercing noise of loneliness – it all reverberates through my walls.
I am a haunted house. In my heart there are many chambers filled with the faces and smiles of the animals I’ve been lucky enough to love, and also of those that got away, those I could not or did not help. I carry them all with me, and sometimes I think I care more about some stranger in a furry body than I should, than I need to. Then my lights inside turn on because I do, because I care, and I’m reminded that it’s a miracle to feel how I feel about animals. So who’s to say that it’s too much to look at, that it’s too hard to do right, when it quite literally brightens me? Knowing them and considering them, it brightens me.
I grew tired one day of being a haunted house. I got tired of the shocking footage that played in my brain, the images that flashed behind my closed eyes, or the pain I imagined whenever I stopped to think about it and even when I didn’t want to think about it. To be honest, writing my one-woman play, I’m Sorry, was a desperate attempt at opening up the blinds, dusting off the cobwebs, and breaking through the darkness of my haunted home. Because I could not bear it any longer alone and quiet. And that’s why Our Hen House is a game changer, that’s why we need these forums and these connection points to remember that we’re a community. We’re in it together. We’re turning the lights on not only in ourselves but also in others, and we’re doing it together.
Performing I’m Sorry has been transformational, and it is how I have begun to leave the haunting behind. To be witnessed, to get to pay homage to heroes like you, to get to share in the gift and the burden that is compassion – it’s been my privilege and my greatest healing. You may be tricked at first into thinking the show is about me, but it’s not. It’s about you. It’s about saluting what you do to better the lives of animals everywhere. It’s about inviting you in so that you can realize there are no ghosts or monsters in here, only
honesty and a great call for the time to come for change. The time that is now. And most of all, it’s about the animals. What an honor to get the chance to sing my love song to them on the page and on the stage.
I like to picture all the animals in my rooms and chambers, the ones living in my haunted home, coming together in the living room of my soul. They convene to give me their creative powers and passion and meaning. And I know now that it’s not me but their goodness that has made it all possible – they have removed all the haunting so that they could make me whole.
Katya Lidsky did her undergraduate studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and then received her master’s degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband, their rescue dogs, and an endlessly entertaining cast of foster pets.