Happy Monday, Celebrationists! Writing you today from beautiful St. Petersburg, Fl.
- I am grateful for my current view, as I begin writing this post:
3. I am grateful for my new bracelet!
Right now I’m rehearsing for a play called Harvey, at freeFall Theatre. If you want to read more about the play, (and purchase some tickets if you feel so inclined!) you can check out this link.
During our first table read (which is exactly what it sounds like – the cast and creatives sit at a table and read the play, hearing the piece out loud together, for the first time). Before we began, our director said something that made me take pause, and make a pointed mental note. It was to the effect of, “One of the things I think this play is about, is how we treat people who are different.”
In the world of the play, the character who is seen as most “different” is a man named Elwood P. Dowd, whose best friend is an invisible six-foot three-and-one-half-inch foot tall rabbit, named Harvey. I think most of us would agree that a guy like Elwood would meet nearly anybody’s criteria for what it means to be a little “different.” But the play has a number of eccentric characters really, all of whom Elwood regards with total grace and kindness.
Our director’s words were inspiring for me as a lens to examine the play through, but also as a means to measure my own judgements by, in my day to day life. However compassionate and open-minded I aim to be, there are definitely times when I make a snap judgement based on some kind of unconscious pattern of reaction I don’t even realize I have.
How many times have we all done that? Had an initial judgement about a person because of things like their:
- Speaking voice
- Physical characteristics
- Where a person lives
- Where a person works
- A person’s approach to a job
- Who a person’s friends are
The list goes on and on…
Case in point – I’d like to share two very short anecdotes that happened to me just today.
As I sat down around 2pm to begin writing this post, there were four teenagers sitting near me. They were talking loudly – laughing, teasing each other with wet straw wrappers and something else that was apparently “gross,” but I had no intention of glancing over. And I immediately thought: Obnoxious. I’d been restraining myself from giving them a little bit of shade for being “completely rude.” But the truth is…it’s a public space, a beautiful day, and these kids were having a BLAST. It’s completely up to me if I choose to see them as annoying…or joyful.
Rewind to 11:30 a.m. – I was having coffee with my dear friend Katie. We were sitting outside and sipping our iced coffee, working on our respective projects, chatting. About halfway through our little date, I got up to use the restroom. When I came back, Katie said “That man at the table next to us (who left while I was in the restroom) was judging us SO hard.” Totally confused, I said “What was he doing?” Katie laughed, replicating his face – basically rolling his eyes, glaring, etc. I was shocked. “Wow!” I said, “I wonder what that was about…” I tried to scroll back in my brain and remember the conversation we’d been having. Katie laughed good naturedly, “ We were talking about clothes. And boys.” This made ME laugh. Katie and I often have many hours of super deep, thoughtful conversation, but it was true that this morning we were just having a great time talking about…well….clothes, and boys. It was interesting to examine the lens that man saw us through. And to think what an incomplete picture he had of who we are. And as I’m finishing this post now, at nearly 11:30 p.m, it makes me think, How many times have I had that reaction to someone…someone who I probably don’t have a complete picture of at all…like maybe those kids I was sitting near, in anecdote 1.
It’s probably impossible to fully turn off the part of us that registers an initial impression about someone based on our previous experiences. But moving forward, I want to challenge myself to open my mind as much as possible. To remember that I don’t know the whole picture. And what defines being “different,” anyway? Each of us, at one point or another has probably been seen as “different” to someone. I think about my own quirks that someone out there might view as strange, or categorize me by in a particular way (and there is plenty I’m sure I’m not even aware of). I bet there’s been a moment where someone has noticed that I:
- wear scarves practically year round, and thought: Hippie.
- have sensitive eyes and tend to blink a lot under bright light, especially when I’m in natural light outside, and if it’s windy. I frequently wear sunglasses, even when it’s super overcast, or when it’s raining, as additional eye protection. Someone may have seen me with my sunglasses on in the rain, and thought: Diva.
- I pack my days full when I’m home in NY, which often means carrying around multiple bags. Sometimes I’ve got a change of clothing, my computer, audition shoes, a water bottle, lunch, and my bulging audition binder. I’m sure someone has seen me with a small collection on my shoulders and thought: Bag lady. Or Annoyingly taking up too much space on the subway. (Despite what I promise are my best efforts to NOT take up too much space on the subway)
- I love retro/period hair, and enjoy experimenting in ways that are probably unique. Maybe someone has noticed, and thought: That’s weird.
- When I get nervous, insecure, or overwhelmed in social situations (which is actually reasonably often) I start to speak in a low glottal fry, clear my throat a lot, and feel like I can’t raise my speaking volume to a normal level. Most of the time this is totally unconscious. I’m sure someone has noticed this and thought: She’s an actor? She seems shy and boring.
And all of that is just SURFACE stuff, without even digging into things like beliefs.
So Celebrationists, I hope you’ll join me in moving through this week with an extra level of awareness. An awareness of our reactions to the magnificently unique humans on this planet. And when we are faced with a choice of how to treat someone we don’t understand – that we choose kindness. Because as you’ll find out if you come see Harvey…we can almost never be sure of anything…
Until next week, Celebrationists!