Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Radvent Day 13: Performing

Okay, I am all over this one. 

Not five minutes ago I was lecturing B on the importance of taking pride in his performance. This was in regards to his increasingly sloppy handwriting and messy backpack/notebook. He's always in a hurry and when you rush, you don't perform as well. A good performance requires some planning, focus and commitment. 

I'm probably not the only one who sees their life like a movie. There is always a soundtrack, a storyline, plot twists!, character development, beautiful lighting and a little drama. I've done this since I was little, laying awake at night "writing" the script of my future and storyboarding it in my head. (I wonder if people born before the 20th century narrated their lives like a novel or play...?) I think this little practice gives me confidence and helps me look for the beauty in all aspects of life. I remember, when I was really sad, laying in bed thinking I could never get out, but also marveling at my ability to feel things that seemed so foreign and dramatic... like something in a melodrama. I remember being very aware of how the emptiness I felt inside was reflected in how I visually perceived the world around me. Likewise, when I'm happy things are soft and light, when I'm excited they twirl and sparkle like a scene from Moulin Rouge. A good song can completely change the scene. One of my favorite recent memories is driving home from Taso's house in the middle of the night with my sunroof open listening to a perfect violin concerto. I stopped at a stop sign, paused for a minute and closed my eyes as a soloist hit impossible notes, opened them and saw a bright, full moon staring down at me through the little square window in the top of my car. Everything was perfectly framed, perfectly lit, perfectly cued. That was it. Nothing spectacular happened, but it was a beautiful, cinematic moment. 

This what I think about when I think about performing. To me, it's being the protagonist in your own life movie (that's what I like to call it). It's about constructing your appearance, being aware of your poise, being the hero who is kind and does good things, but first it is about being authentic. There's nothing appealing about a dishonest performance. I hate my face when I put makeup on it so most days I don't, even though I often think maybe I should. I hate the way it feels to lie, so I plan my actions and try to shape my character in a way that I never have to. I want to always be able to open my mouth and know that what I'm saying, however awkward or dumb or frivolous, is true.

I've been honing in lately on the effect my physical presentation (appearance, manners, speech, relationships, the work I do) has on how my overall performance in life. My Aunt Sue always says that the way others perceive you is a large part of who you are. That used to really bother me. I didn't believe it. How could it be true? But the more existential I get about it, the more I believe it. We are what we think, say and do. To go back to the movie analogy, I may be the writer and director, but I have a crew. Even if I assume every role in this production, deeply understand my motivation and have complete control over my own performance, what's a movie without an audience?
A little performing from us truly.

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