Hats. Each one worn has the potential to change the next path we take, the way our lives might go. This weekend, as I showed my first short film, Stealing Zen, at the Durango Independent Film Festival, I donned my screenwriter and actress hats with other incredibly talented and lovely filmmakers, producers, performers, and creators. Without yet knowing how much of an impact spending this time in the company of such high quality and inspired people will have on my life, I feel changed again, a theme that continues to run through the current of my recent days and months.
Image by Christopher Sessums
For anyone who's worked with the actor and instructor Josh Pais, those two words will sound very familiar. "I'm back." For a man with over eighty IMDb credits alone, one might think it referred to his acting career... he is indeed a very prolific actor. Thankfully for me, and likely a large number of his students he has influenced over the years, it actually refers to being present. In the moment. Here.
Somewhere deep inside my head, I've struggled and receded into spirals of future worries and past frustrations. Forgetting to notice the unique interactions all around me, the sound of someone drinking water, the feel of a cool wind in the warm rays of sunshine, I lost myself in Candy Crush, The Blacklist, and just about anything that could distract me from the pain and inconvenience of an injury this summer. Josh Pais's Committed Impulse intensive this past weekend took me away from all of that and into the vibrant world of reality, with all of its swirling energies and honesty.
At first yawning through Friday night's introduction, I thought I couldn't possibly have the energy to maintain the level of presence and aliveness clearly exhibited in what seemed like every moment for Josh. On the contrary, I now realize that I don't have the time or desire to waste my life buried in playing a video game, lost in Facebook, or buried in my phone or worries. The energy I have regained since this weekend is boundless, my inspiration for life and work has increased exponentially, and even the scenes I act and the music I sing feel and sound so alive, in ways I've rarely experienced as an adult.
The brilliant and creative son of a theoretical physicist who worked with Einstein, Josh Pais taught us some incredible acting techniques and, more importantly, some major truths I had quite forgotten lately. We will all have moments in which we get pulled out of the present and into the voices (usually negative) in our heads. Thankfully, we also have some choices. Following the downward spiral of negativity is no longer one of mine. So - as I was encouraged to say this weekend whenever I caught myself moving away from the present moment - I'm back. This time, I intend to stay.
In life and in acting, our perceptions of ourselves often color what we pursue. If inaccurate, success might wait in the wings for a long time until we come to face the way the world sees us - and perhaps the way we truly interact with others. Although I appreciate that one member of the class saw me as a "nurturing young mother," I suspect I will pursue the characters who live more savory lives than sweet.