Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Do I Like Me?

Lean too much upon the approval of people and it becomes a bed of thorns.

Tehyi Hsieh
Hello Rose
Like most actors I spent my working days seeking approval. First of all I wanted to be approved of by the director so that I would get the job. Once in rehearsal I wanted the approval of my colleagues, my fellow actors. Opening night would come and I wanted the critics to approve of me. And then I wanted to impress and charm the audience.

What was this need for approval? It is not germane to a performing artist to need approval. Being liked is a side show. The main event is the preparation and performance of the play, musical, ballet or whatever. The real pleasure for an actor is in the discoveries, developments, understanding the character, being able to create that character's life and presenting the drama in a moving and believable manner with beauty and artistry night after night. When an actor achieves that accomplishment he finishes his night's work with joy and satisfaction, no matter what anyone thinks of him.

Naturally we want to be liked. We want the applause, we want the good reviews and to be respected by our employers. Who doesn't? But when approval begins to take the place of reason, reality and conscientiousness, that's when the thorns start growing.

There's this famous story about a well known actress (maybe one of you knows the story better than I do and can fill in the accompanying details). She was doing a comedy. At one point she asked the character on stage with her for a cup of tea. For some reason it was a very funny moment and the audience would roar with laughter. But one night they didn't laugh. And for the next several nights there was no laughter. She asked a friend to watch the scene and tell her what was wrong. He did and told her that by the way she spoke the line she was asking for the laugh and that she should go back to asking for the tea. She did that and the laughter resumed.

In all areas of our lives it's the integrity and honesty of how we live and what we do that counts not the measurement of our popularity. As the Suna Sirah states "Honor yourself with humility, and give yourself the esteem you deserve." And I say, graciously accept the approval you get from others but know that you don't need them to tell you how good you are.

Disappoint yourself. Forgive yourself. Do better next time. And drink a toast to yourself every day.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Never give up.


Geo. said...

Delightful post, DB. I hope you join me in a toast to both of us!

Arlene (AJ) said...

Great post DB. I'll share a toast with you also.