If you boil life (and acting) down to its most basic, what is there?
Love. Gratitude. Forgiveness. Letting go. (Sure there’s power and sex and conflict, but if you think about every story ever written, isn’t the ultimate message about love or some permutation of it and the higher states of being that allow us to overcome challenges and tragedy?)
Conflict without the possibility of a resolution (love) would mean hopelessness. And that would give us no reason to live (or tell stories). As artists, our responsibility is to provide hope for humanity by sharing stories that inspire and uplift. Why else do it?
There’s an ancient Hawaiian saying that asks us to bless each moment of our lives with a silent “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. And thank you.”
If we could start doing this mindfully, can you imagine how we might change our world?
“I love you.”
Not romantic love (although that’s fine, too), but expanding our love to meet all people. Love for existence itself, for this moment, for creating and being able to express yourself as yourself in this incarnation. Love for the experiences and people that come into your life to show you the way, even when it’s hard. And even when it would be easier to choose not to love.
The Indian greeting of Namaste or Namaskar acknowledges the Divinity or Higher Self in each person. If we could but think of ourselves—and everyone—as an extension of the universe, how much more universally connected we would feel. Try and think of silently blessing everyone you meet with an “I love you,” and watch how your world will change.
For the innumerable things we do unconsciously—mostly for not seeing ourselves correctly. We don’t see ourselves for who we really are, but instead see ourselves at the level of our thoughts telling us who we think we are. We are not our thoughts.
I think this is particularly true for actors because we always see ourselves in terms of our shortcomings—our failings or missteps. Our bombed auditions, our comparing ourselves to others. But no one else sees you that way. Not a casting director or producer or film director. They’re just trying to find the right person who’s most right for a particular role. That doesn’t mean you’re failing when you don’t book the job. It means your essence wasn’t a match to a role. That doesn’t define you. But often we let it.
“Please forgive me.”
Learning how to forgive ourselves for projecting onto others our own stuff. Once we begin to take responsibility for the innumerable ways we don’t forgive ourselves (and others) for things, we stop holding things against others who we expect to behave in a certain way. That’s called letting go. And forgiveness.
There’s a Buddhist saying, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Not being able to forgive produces the same results.
Philosopher, Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you it will be enough.”
I mean, really, what else is there?
I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. And thank you.
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