Living Out Loud

meryl_streep_at_the_2014_sag_awards_12024455556_cropped“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just a place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Do not consider painful what is good for you.” ~ Euripides

“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” ~ Emile Zola

I don’t watch award shows even though I think honoring great work in the arts is fitting. I don’t like the hype of most of those events. But when I woke up to a string of posts about Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes, I found the video and listened to what she had to say. One thing she said was, “An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like.” And Viola Davis said when she introduced Meryl for her Cecil B. DeMille award, “An artists job is to make us feel less alone.” That’s why I’m an artist, to help myself and others feel less alone. And to try to understand people who are not like me.

I loved Meryl Streep’s speech. All of it, but I’m not going to comment today about our next President or his actions. I’m not a political pundit and I’ve already written in past posts about how I feel about his behavior and the result of it.

Today and for the next few entries, I’m going to write about what it has meant to be to be an actor, director, writer, and teacher of the arts.

But let me back up a bit. I have a writer friend I met though social media. Her name is Julie Christine Johnson author of, In Another Life. On January first her blog post was titled, “A Word of Resolution for 2017.” Each year she picks a word to focus on for the year. I’m not big on making resolutions. I have life goals, but those are on going and don’t end when the calendar says the year is over. Anyway, I liked Julie’s idea of having a word to focus on for 2017 and I chose the word wholehearted. I borrowed the word from Brené Brown who says that living a wholehearted life, is to be vulnerable and open hearted no matter what happens to us. It means to embrace life and to live it out loud.

I have not been a person who has lived life out loud. For most of my life, I kept many thoughts to my self. I had lots of thoughts about what was happening in our society, in church, at school, or in our personal family life. But I didn’t want to make waves or stir up controversy. I was quiet until I became involved in theatre. Then slowly, through the years I have opened up and begun to say all those things I’d been thinking. Now I’m becoming more brave and writing my true thoughts. This year I’m committing myself to becoming even more wholehearted in my writing.

When I first began writing, an instructor told me my work was guarded. It’s been difficult to write exactly what I’m thinking and feeling. I’m still not very good at being completely honest about my opinion. I learned from my father that it’s almost impossible to change someone’s mind once it’s made up. And I’ve found that to be mostly true. Often I have wished I were more like my sister, Celeste. She never holds back her opinion. We think alike, but I’m the quiet one; she’s not. Yet, as a teacher, I learned to express my opinion by posing questions to my students. I think they found this technique to be less threatening, yet opened their minds to new possibilities.

I will break my promise not to say anything about our incoming President. Maya Angelou used to say, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Donald Trump has shown us who he is. He’s not a nice person, nor is he going to be a good leader. He doesn’t care about us or the problems we face. He only cares about how he can leverage his position to get more for himself. But he has done us the great service of opening up societal wounds that have not ever healed. We now have this fantastic opportunity to examine our wounds and mistakes, and expose them to the light so they can finally be resolved.

So to follow my intention to become more wholehearted, I’m going to follow something else Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” I may not be able to change the people who are bullies, or who want to spread hatred, but I’ll never know if I don’t listen to their concerns and point out how much they are hurting others. Oprah Winfrey said that one of the greatest lessons she learned while doing her television show all those years was that people just want to be heard. They want to feel like they matter.

That’s why I was drawn to the arts. When we are exposed to art, they show us the light and the darkness inside people. Through stories we have an opportunity to get new perspectives and learn something vital about others from vastly different cultures and backgrounds than our own. I want to listen and observe so I can “see” and “hear” people who don’t think exactly the way I do and then incorporate what I’ve learned into my stories.

That’s why I think the arts are vitally important. They help us walk around in another person’s life for a while. What can be more life changing than that?

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

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