While contemplating this week’s topic, I watched as one of my cats moved from one place on the carpet to another. To the sunny spot. Cats have this uncanny ability to always find and rest in the sunny spot, even if it’s a tiny sliver of sunshine streaming through to an inches-wide patch of floor. They love the sunny spot. And, as I thought about it, I realized: so do I.
I’m an optimist. I like to see all glasses not as half-full but as overflowing with goodness. It’s just my way. It takes a lot to get me in a “doom and gloom” place about anything. But I noticed something about myself when I considered the way my cat so quickly and easily shifted from one part of the room to the other, in order to get to that sunny spot. It takes a little bit more work on my part to the “feel good spot” than it seems to take him.
I mean, I’ll will myself into a better feeling place. I’ll work at improving my mood about something. I’ll distract myself out of negativity and into positivity. And all of that is less effortless than his simple shift from one space to another. Rarely will I make a physical shift. And maybe that’s more efficient. Maybe my silly cat knows more about happiness than I do. And maybe he can teach us all a little something about the way we choose to feel.
It got really hot last week. Y’all know that. I mainly work out of my home and my home has one room with A/C. So, if I want to cool off, I have to move from my office space into that other room. That room is not the room with my desk, my phone, my laptop, my phone log, my printer, my TiVo-equipped TV, my piles of paperwork… you get the picture. So, I actually found myself sitting in the most uncomfortable room in the house during those record-breaking heat wave days because that’s where my work was. And when I watched my cat find the sunny spot this morning, I thought, “Gillespie, think about it! Your laptop is portable. Your phone is portable. Your call log is portable. The paperwork is portable. You chose to sit in the hottest room in the house rather than moving yourself and a few essential things into the room with the air conditioning… and why?”
Good question. Why do we ever choose to stay in a less-wonderful-feeling place when we have the option of moving into the better-feeling place? I see actors do this a lot. Actors will get so attached to outcome (of an audition, of a callback, of a meeting with an agent or manager, of a networking encounter, of a workshop event) that they’ll forget to move into the sunny spot and instead will wallow in a negative place. They’ll stew over what each little beat of each little moment meant. They’ll fixate on what they could’ve done differently or should’ve done better. They’ll actually be mad at themselves over things that weren’t at all in their control, rather than moving into the sunny spot.
I’m not saying there’s no benefit to working through issues. If you blow an audition and could improve next time by examining and analyzing what went wrong and working toward doing better in the future, that’s cool. But to stew in the dark spot longer than necessary — especially while there’s a perfectly lovely sunny spot waiting for you just a few feet away — is to choose to be miserable. And why would you choose that?
Where’s your sunny spot? Is it at the beach? In the park? Runyon Canyon? It doesn’t have to be outside, but often times I’ve found that folks who stay in their heads too much about things find great improvement to their moods and general outlooks just by going for a walk. I’m a big fan of the Internet and online communities, of course, but very little mood-improving happens by seeking out message boards on which to complain about how things are. (It’s that whole What If vs. What Is thing I’ve talked about before.) If you are a “stay inside” kind of person, try a bubble bath. Find a great book you love to read and keep it at the ready, just for such “sunny spot” needs. Any time you feel yourself spending too much time in the shadows, just mention to yourself that you need to find a sunny spot, and quickly.
It doesn’t take long, but sometimes making that physical shift to a better-feeling place fixes all of the “stuff” that overthinking couldn’t fix. Suddenly that blown audition is a lesson learned. That missed opportunity is a one-time thing. That mistake during a networking event is the foundation for doing better next time. And it all feels much less dark when you’re looking at it from the sunny spot!
One More Thing…
Before we close off this week’s column and head over to Your Turn, I wanted to mention that next week marks a big anniversary for me with The Actors Voice. Five years. 🙂 Now, I’ve spent most of my adult life avoiding long-term commitments. I hopped from college to temp work to a real job to substitute teaching to grad school to acting to writing to a dozen different survival jobs simultaneously, and from relationship to relationship. I never really saw myself as the commitment type.
But here I am having worked in casting for nearly six and a half years, having been in the same relationship for eight years, and having written this column every single week for five years. Oh my lordy, I’ve grown up! And I guess I am the commitment type after all. I love getting to show up at the blank page on my computer every week and to just let my fingers dance upon the keys, knowing that the next day tens of thousands of you will read those words and some of you will reach out to let me know what you thought.
Please, if you are as grateful as I am for this space we share each week, let the fine folks at Breakdown Services, Showfax, and Actors Access know it. This column would not exist without Gary Marsh, Bob Brody, Kathleen Bueche, Scott Mudgett, and Susan Marsh. I am so very grateful to the team behind the scenes for having invited me to do this five years ago, and for keeping the columns free and searchable and so easily-accessible to readers worldwide. Thank you, guys. It’s been an amazing five years!
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001019.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.