Thinking Of Life

Perhaps you have heard of Method Acting. The Method, which found its greatest advocate in the acting coach Lee Strasberg, encourages actors to draw upon their own experiences to recreate in themselves the emotions their characters are experiencing – as opposed to traditional acting, where performers merely simulate what the characters were experiencing. In other words, don’t pretend you’re angry or in love, actually be angry or in love. I did some acting when I was younger, and I always felt that writing, at its best, was like Method acting on the page. No matter what my characters were doing, I was always drawing on my own experience to summon the emotions present within my story. Sometimes I did this deliberately and sometimes not. Sometimes I knew that when my hero was confronting his tormentor he was actually saying what I had never said to my father. Other times I did not know where the feelings came from, but come they did, and always with the familiarity of memory.

Writing and acting are, in this way, vivid reminders of the power of thought. Here we are at the page, alone in our workroom, safe from all the villains and their arrows, and we can summon in ourselves the same fear, the same rage, the same compassion as if we’re caught within the great hurly burly circus of life. In fact, writing requires us to create these virtual realities within us; without this power, our writing would have no life, because every moment in life is felt far more than it is known.

And since every moment in life is felt, it is natural that we should want to feel as good as we possibly can as often as we can. Why is it, then, that we so often assume that life away from our work is so very different from life during our work? Everything we feel while we work flows from what we think. Isn’t it possible, that even riding within the current of public life, even with rejection letters and reviews and spouses and children and the economy and war and suffering – isn’t it possible that the very same holds true, no matter where we are or what we are doing? And in this way, aren’t we always the authors of our own life?

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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