Whenever I watch a performance of Mahler’s second symphony, The Resurrection, I am spellbound by the intense emotional connection to the arc of my own life. John Williams Jaws is inseparable from Steven Spielberg’s story – so much so that the first couple of notes is all that is needed for me to see again that shark attack. What makes music so powerful and how can I learn how to use that power in my own creative life?
Stephen Colbert once observed that “Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.” But what is the focus of the things I make up? Is it mostly about me – my ideas, my money and my goals? Or is it mostly about us – a better and more satisfying life together than any of us could create by ourselves? Trying to become a better Improv actor has helped me to discover the importance of this choice in my real life.
It can be really curious how watching YouTube “recommended for you” choices sometimes provoke a long chain of reflections and important insights into your life. I discovered a lot about the cost of my tendency to rush to judgment without understanding by watching a video clip from the movie Amadeus.
Memories are strange things. Sometimes all it takes is a couple of words, a flash of color or an unexpected image to open the book of my life to an earlier page and a vivid recollection of a special time. This post is about the beginnings of a life-long friendship that began with a mishap in a Chinese Restaurant.
The recent announcement of the death of Vin Scully, the play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team for 67 years, had an emotional impact that surprised me by its intensity. It was like the sudden loss of a dear friend that left me deeply mourning with a large empty place in my soul. I want to share with you some of my life’s memories that involved him, including some that I haven’t thought about for many, many years.
I recently got around to watching the 2009 movie “The Blind side”, staring Sandra Bullock in an Oscar winning role as a born-again Christian mother who adopts and cares for a Black athlete from a poor part of Memphis. Bullock was one of the students of Sanford Meisner and she said that her success as an actor stemmed very much from Meisner’s emphasis that “the foundation of acting is the reality of doing.” For me it is increasingly clear that working to become a better actor means working on the skills that will also enable me to live my life more fully.
It’s a bit curious how a casual conversation can result in a flood of unexpected memories. During a casual Sunday afternoon coffee, I started talking about studying Italian in Italy and suddenly found myself transported back through time and space to a wonderful vacation day.
If we are to accept the Quantum Mechanics notion of multiple parallel universes, then every possible lifetime that I might create with my choices must be happening in one of those universes. Does that mean I can do “whatever I want” and have no responsibility for the consequences of my choices? This post explores the insights into this question offered by a few movies and theater plays.
It is an intriguing idea that every choice we make creates a branch into a parallel universe, yet this is not the reality that any of us experience in our real lives. We must make a choice and then we experience only the consequences that flow from that choice. So what distinguishes a good choice from a poor one?
We all experience our world as a continuum of choices where each choice forever precludes the alternate paths. It’s obvious, right? But what if this “obviousness” is misleading? What if there could be parallel universes which could accommodate every possible alternative? Quantum Mechanics offers some insight into this possibility.
As I walked past the church and cemetery in our village, I started thinking about how curious a lifetime is when viewed at a distance. There are the dates of your first and last breath, but these “bookend” dates really have nothing to do with defining a good or a wasted life. What really matters is what each person did during the years in between. Did they make it about money and fame? Or did they make it about love, relationship and caring for others?
Thích Nhất Hạhn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist, prolific author, poet, teacher, and founder of the Plum Village, died three weeks ago at the age of 95. He was known as the “father of mindfulness” and is often considered to be one of the main inspirations for engaged Buddhism. He was always referred to simply as “Thay” (“teacher” in Vietnamese). Thay had a profound influence on my life. I want to share a bit of that story in memory of and as a tribute to a remarkable man.