“This is important”, my gut said. I took out my phone and began typing inside the note app as award-winning actress Sally Field spoke. It wasn’t because it was some novel lesson, exactly. It was because she was articulating a phenomenon I could relate to, but was one of the most difficult to describe.
Despite not being a “writer”, she was beautifully sharing why she chose to pursue acting, and it was the same reason I did. She described the first time she spoke in front of the classroom. “The fog melted away, and I heard myself,” she shared. “I felt gloriously ALIVE.” I knew exactly what she meant. Acting, when you’re meant to do it, feels like you go on autopilot-yet are all there, all being, and all existing at the same time. It’s almost meditative. Your walls are down, you’re speaking and emoting freely, and time is both lost and absolutely felt at once. When you’re done, you think “I barely know what just happened, or where I was, but it was awesome”.
So, how do we access that in other ways? How do mere mortals (who don’t get paid to do this every day) find LIFE in the mundane? I realized recently that traveling was the best way for me to extend it- a feeling that only lasts mere moments or a day on set when I am at not consistently creating a faraway journey fog weeks at a time. This feeling that makes the suffering of Lyme disease worth it-the suffering of any one, in any way worth it. Award-winning actress Sally Field(I have to say the whole title as much as I can, because it’s hilarious to do for some reason)’s book “In Pieces” explores this chase, as well as her tumultuous real-life relationships and the death of her mother. It was this description of extreme mindfulness and existing wholly in a moment, though, that resonated so thoroughly as to reel me in for me good.
15 minutes or so later, I found myself having one of those exact moments, hiding in the stacks on the peripherals of the bookstore and listening to Sally-freaking-Field talk about what it was like to work with ROBIN WILLIAMS, sitting somewhere between “Business” and “Memoir”. If there is anything more inspiring to an actor than speaking with an ultra-successful one, it’s listening to them talk about other uber-actors and icons. I have been on set with names, looked in the eye and given advice by some of the industry’s most attractive men, and I have to say, listening to an incredibly talented, long-working actress spout anecdotes and insights feels no different (in most parts).
Also, tried the blogger self-portrait thing like a big dork…you know, after the “moment”.
But it made me grateful. Even Sally Field, who absolutely adores Oregon (where she’s filmed on location and where her first love lives), said how lucky we all were to have such an amazing venue. As often as the travel bug’s venom surges within me in waves (much like, or perhaps in parallel to, the Lyme disease), I have to admit: Portland is a pretty cool place. Events like this are popping up so frequently, it’s nearly impossible to keep up and debilitating to plan. If I have the time and energy to go, I am paralyzed with the “deciding what to do”-much like I was this night when deciding between seeing award- wining actress Sally Field (Haha!) and a really perfect, intimate performance competition called Comedy Vs Tragedy at a cider-oriented pub (which I will totally be at next month).
But I knew which I had to do, really. Almost two months ago, I ran my fingers along a fresh copy of “In Pieces” at an airport bookstore, debating holding the attractively-sized volume against me (I am a bibliophile, what do you want from me?) for the remainder of my journey to Asia. Something told me to wait-and it could have been the price tag-but there was this weird little nagging that I would be able to get it at a better time, in a more meaningful way, and perhaps with a relevant signature (because irrelevant ones have a tendency to ruin books, in my opinion).
And so, this event sprang upon me-waving at me from my phone screen as I contemplated getting ready for another. I may have seen it before, but I mistakenly thought it would cost too much (lt was free), be too far away physically (it was even closer than the city and most events), or too far away in time (abd posted prematurely). But I went-and I walked away with a renewed sense of urgency to write and act amidst what had been weeks and months of wanderlust taking up all the space in my bloodstream-as well as a discounted, yet SIGNED COPY OF THE BOOK. I followed up this perfectly contented evening with a solo meal at a nearby Italian restaurant I developed an appreciation for (largely due to their amazing gluten free pasta), but rarely go to. I indulged fully in places I would normally be clutching my gold coins and hunched with self protection and pity, and most importantly-I got out.
Julia Cameron’s famous book “The Artist’s Way”, among many gems, imparts the importance of taking oneself on dates that reignite their own creative spark, just as another sort of date might might put the heat back in a relationship. These dates are meant to take you where your gut, inner child, that little voice, or your passion tell you to go. You’re meant to follow whims and prance about as if a kid-it’s sacred, and it’s just for you.
My schedule and general isolation should lend itself to many of these, but in my ill state, I haven’t taken myself on as many intentionally in the last few years-unless you count solo traveling for a week or a month, in which case, I have probably filled my quota this year. Still, I have been trying to implement more beauty, joy, and self care into my home life so as to mimic the sense of positivity and well being I have when I am away, and artist dates are a great way to do it. Getting out for culture or nature is lovely anyway, but doing so alone is especially empowering and creates a dynamic of no excuses. I am so used to doing things alone that not having anybody to go with is never a GOOD reason to avoid an event or activity.
Even if it was small, I was living. I was remembering I was alive-even when I am not in an exotic land or on a set, there are opportunities to live and feel alive everywhere, every day. Sometimes it’s simply sitting on the floor in the right place at the right time, and others it’s climbing a mountain. The only thing you really have to do is balance reception and action in the way that great artists know how to do. After all, living is just creating.