Linear Thinking

We all develop different strategies to get us through the day.  We involve ourselves with habits, both good and bad that help create a semblance of consistency and security.   One of these strategies is seeing the world in a linear fashion.  When we think in linear forms, we are thinking and behaving as if life existed in a straight line.  A to B to C.  Moreover, this way of thinking and behaving implies a cause and effect relationship.  If we do this, then that will automatically follow.   What this does, is create the illusion of security.  We feel as if, by believing in a cause and effect relationship, things will go as planned, and life will continue as normal.

However, what we often discover, is that there is no apparent cause and effect relationship to many things.  How are we to explain great, unexpected joys, or tragedies that we encounter on a frequent basis?  Life has a way of interfering with plans and straight line paths. -- Meeting a new best friend, or a future partner with whom you may have a child -- or on the other side of the coin, 9-11, natural disasters, and the reality of mortality.  

When we confine ourselves to this linear existence, we doom ourselves to a life without wonder.  We think of each moment as predictable, with the great possiblitly of boredom entering our lives.  More than that,  though, we miss out on the present moment.  If we are determined to get to that point along the line, we miss the journey.  How many times have we had an appointment at a given time, and focus solely on just getting there?  The rush to reach that end, takes us away from experiencing that moment.   

Experiencing the moment is one of the most important thing that an actor must do.   To be there.   To exist in that space, in all of its glory and specificity.  If we are able to practice being in the moment in life, then we are preparing ourselves to be able to do the same in our craft.  

Unfortunately, society has a stake in keeping things linear, copacetic, and orderly.   Without order, society could not exist.  But, this is where the actor and artist diverge from that structure.  As actors, we need to pay attention to the periphery, the world outside the straight line.  Undoubtedly, it is safer to live a linear existence.  It is simpler to continue on auto-pilot, so that inherent dangers of our lives are apparently pushed far into the background.  In doing so, though, we are also losing out on great joy, and the joy of truly creating.

Impulses that we receive, impulses that give rise to great work, come from all places.   They are all around,  all the time.   Unlike the rest of society, we don't have a choice in opening up to heightened awareness of the periphery.  It is our obligation to do so.  Without opening up to the impulses out there, we are destined to remain on that linear path, where we not only doom ourselves to convention, but also to a lack of originality in our work, and we lose out on the intensity, wonder, and passion in our lives.

Slow the world down.   See what is around you.  If you live in a city, as most actors do, take a look above the 5th floor.  You will find a world that you never knew existed.   It is a start to letting the world in, and allowing the stuff of the world and of life to fill you.  

You will find that you will have so much more to give back.