Monday, January 26, 2009

Numerous Natures

Just because you can do a bunch of things doesn't mean that you are a bunch of things.

Bebe Newwirth
Hello. Welcome to Vagabond land

In the film "Sea of Love" there is a scene in which Al Pacino plays two conflicting actions at the same time. He does it so smoothly that only another actor, probably, would notice. I was once rehearsing a play when a director asked me to do the same sort of thing. I said "only Al Pacino can do that." It's very tricky business. It's not quite as difficult as juggling three oranges while sewing a button on a shirt, but it's close.

I believe there really are exceptional people who can hold more than one idea in their heads at the same time. We sometimes think we're doing that when we are just going back and forth from one to the other rapidly. But to actually allow the brain to consider more than one idea concurrently seems magical to me.

I am sometimes curios, when I step back from my own thinking, to consider the fact that we live in such a linear way. All we are really aware of is the present, the strange condition that disappears as fast as it comes. Yes, we have memories and hopes, but we live our lives in a line. It is in those moments of mental clarity that I come close to recognizing myself. I realize that all the tasks I perform, the problems I solve and the questions I answer do not define who I really am. We are not our jobs or our titles.

Nehru says "What we really are matters more than what others think of us." And what we really are is a very difficult thing to describe. Even to ourselves. It's the big question, the big search. But we get sidetracked from the search by all the things we have to do in life, the living. And then we get labeled: He's a baker. She's a bookkeeper. She's a lawyer. He's a cop. None of those things describe "what we really are" but those are the ways others think of us. And if we do "a bunch of things" then what? How do you label someone who is busy with a lot of activities?

A few days ago I wrote a piece here where I mentioned that Peter Falk was an artist. Why should that have been surprising to some? Why is it strange that a person who does one thing very well should also do something else very well? It's because of those labels.

I am a retired actor who writes and paints. What am I? I am a human being. How do I make a living? I live.

DB - Vagabond

What is life? Make it up as you go along.


Beth said...

D, I really liked "Sea of Love," but it's been some time since I saw it. I can't picture which scene you're talking about, but Al Pacino never ceases to amaze me. I first saw him in "Dog Day Afternoon" back when I was in high school, and I thought he was amazing and sexy and cool. I also remember him in "The Panic in Needle Park."

I remember that when I stopped working, I wondered how I would define myself. When people asked "What do you do," I'd say that I was a microbiologist. For a while I said that I worked as a microbiologist, but I stopped working a while back. Now I pretty much have the attitude that you do: I live.

It IS amazing how we try to categorize ourselves, and feel that we have to define ourselves in a handful of words. I still identify somewhat with microbiology, but I'm slowly but surely getting away from that. It will always be a part of my makeup and personality, but it's becoming less and less important.

Love, Beth

Anonymous said...

You mention Bebe Newwirth, she is one of my favorites. Great stuff DB. I don't have the gift of gab but I enjoy reading the works of those that do. (rene)

Leigh said...

You have a knack for creating very thought provoking posts, and this one is no exception. :)
I've redefined myself inwardly as well as outwardly many times, ever evolving.

Off to ponder...Leigh

Big Mark 243 said...

F. Scott Fitzgerald said that "The test of a first class mind is the ability to hold two opposing views in the head at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

I think that I have had that in my heart for most of my life of being aware of myself. The only acknowledgement I give life, is a shrug of the shoulders, as I continue on in my way.

This is a tricky piece of work, to pull off something like that. And the Bebe Neuwirth quote, is one of courage. How you define yourself is way more important than the definitions that others give you.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I always correct people now a days, because as you indicated, there is no such thing as multi-tasking :o)