I recently came upon an excerpt from an Actor’s Studio interview with stage and screen actor Hugh Jackman. Though I’ve never seen Jackman’s work, his discussion of the acting process was invaluable.
“The life of an actor is really about being awake,” he explains. Speaking specifically of stage work, he discusses the importance of keeping a performance fresh, night after night, by truly listening to his fellow actors in a scene. "You do eight shows a week, and if you're not awake, that thing is going to be stale by the 5th show," he explains. Each performance, "has to be for the first time."
Sounds a lot like life, this amazing play that dawns fresh in each moment.
When we move across the stage on autopilot, however, preoccupied and speaking our lines from rote, that freshness is lost. We become stale and life loses its rich flavor. But when we awaken, our authentic presence is offered to even the simplest experience, and we are enlivened in the process.
When we speak to a loved one or greet a coworker, for example, we can do so in a daze, just another weary actor reading from a barren script. Or we can pause to truly see the person in front of us and speak from the heart.
The interval we’re discussing here is more one of awareness than of duration, as even the busiest day allows time for an authentic hello. The challenge is to cut through our inner landscape, to get out of our own way in order to perceive the person before us simply as they are in that moment. When we do so, we connect with the essence shining through. Our attentiveness enlarges the channel through which that vitality flows, and we both are nourished.
As I type that last sentence, my fingers drop from the keyboard and I turn toward the window. A deep blue sky cradles a westering sun. The garden lies in shadow and a breeze stirs the leaves of backyard trees.
It has been a stressful day. With lots to do and deadlines looming, I have constricted and become depleted. Now, as I consciously lay down my busyness, an oasis spreads out before me.
Earlier I’d discovered, not surprisingly, that Hugh Jackson is a meditator. In a 2006 interview in O Magazine, he refers to meditation as “dipping into that powerful source that creates everything.” I do this now. I steep myself in that which gives rise to it all. I awaken once more and am soothed.
Many believe we are here on this dear planet for precisely this purpose~~to awaken again and again, until living in full awareness becomes the new norm. And then, no matter our role or who shares the stage with us, we will know with our whole being that all is well.
Happy dipping! Oh, and double dipping is allowed!!!
And click here to get to Jackson's interview clip. Links to the full interview and an earlier one, too, can be found to the right.