All we’re trying to do in acting is to stop “acting” and allow ourselves to be.
This is simple-but it’s not easy.
Just like most things in life, I have found. The basic truths and understanding of many things is born out of simplicity. Human beings overcomplicate to the point of rendering things confusing, pain-inflicting, and sometimes nonsensical.
What if we just started with this basic hypothesis that you’re enough. You are. We all are. But we distrust this, so we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to be someone we’re not and do things to keep us from revealing who we really are.
I get it. We live in a society that’s constantly comparing us to something else and we try to conform ourselves to whatever we feel is marketable or gets the job or is the hot look or is cast-able or popular.
When I look at the work of experts in other fields, I find that the same simple premises apply in all their research. That is, when we work with very simple and concrete expressions of who we already are…miracles occur.
If parents could set aside their agendas, stop trying to control things that are uncontrollable, stop trying to micro-manage and make things or people like they want them to be, the quality of their relationships with their children would improve. She gave this simple advice, “Simply listen to your children.” What is derived from this is the greatest gift: presence.
Like anything in life, it’s learning how to move beyond our egos and letting something greater unfold.
Simple, but not always easy.
TED speaker Shaka Senghor, who spent 19 years in prison, talks about giving ourselves permission to “expand and grow and evolve as human beings. That’s our nature.” And that anybody can have a transformation if we create the space for this to happen.
In prison, no less. Simple concept. Not always easy.
I recently read a Vanity Fair piece about pilot error and training pilots in something called cockpit resource management (CRM). I also spoke to a United Airlines captain who’s a friend of mine-and both the article and my friend talk about the idea that one of the contributing factors to airline fatality can often be attributed to non-communication among the pilots. So moving from an authoritarian, hierarchal system in which one person is the “boss” and has all the answers to the collaboration of everyone in the cockpit, engaging the captain or asking questions if they might disagree…creates a more honest, egalitarian and in this case, safe, environment.
So having honest communication, even when it’s hard. Simple, but not always easy.
It saves lives-literally and figuratively.
All these examples are what we’re not only trying to uncover in our work as actors, but as human beings. To me, it’s about getting back to the underlying simplicity of it all that’s been taught for thousands of years.
Zen Buddhism some 2,500 years ago created a term called Soshin.
Beginner’s mind. Approaching all endeavors (even those we have done a million times) as if we’re beginners. Instead of working from a supposition that we know it all, try being open to the simplicity of the moment and what each moment wants to show us anew. The mind is then fresh and open and awake and eager to many possibilities.
Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, says this about Zen practice: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
*First published via Backstage