Thank you for your generous letter. I'm so glad that "The Dogs at Live Oak Beach, Santa Cruz" resonates with your own happiest experiences. It's interesting that you include memories of performing as making you as happy as dogs running on a beach. When we are performing (which I do as a reader of poetry, or sometimes as a teacher) we really do "forget ourselves," and this shedding of ego really does make us happy. Your insight that people can respond to a poem all in their own separate ways is right, of course--and your interest in that fact might be what helps make you a good actor. That you could catch the undertone of sadness in a poem about happiness is another sign that you have the insights of an actor who sees the complications of people.
The poem came during a time when my husband and I were staying in a house on cliff above Live Oak Beach. It's a surfing beach, and I was supposed to be working on a book, but I spent a lot of time gazing at the surfers. It was like watching ballet. I wrote a poem about surfing. too. Both the surfers and the people and dogs playing gave me joy, and i too wished life could always be so carefree.
Good luck to you in your acting career or whatever you choose to do. May your work always be play.