Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Scraping off the greasepaint

Do you suffer from an affliction that troubles me? I only realised it recently, but I seem to have a compulsive need to share.
Is there a medical term for this, I wonder? Compulsive-passing-on disorder? Must-share-with-others addiction? Either would fit the bill. Given a memorable story, helpful advice, or just a good joke, my first impulse is to pass it on.
Yes . . . you can guess what's coming. I heard a thought-provoking analogy the other day and it's crying out to be shared.
Have you a spare moment . . . ?

We seem to be living through a time of fast-moving, dramatic change. There are natural disasters, political upheavals, economic stresses . . . I don't think we need to add over-population, climate change and a shortage of
resources, the first three provide more than enough material to occupy our fevered minds. What's more the topic grabbing the day's headlines changes so rapidly that it's hard to discover an up-date on the drama that gripped us yesterday . . . this has now been relegated to the back pages.

Into this foetid atmosphere came the gift of a wonderful analogy. It was offered by Leonard Jacobson, and it most definitely needs to be circulated as widely as possible.

Imagine, we were told, that a film is being made of your life. Imagine that this film is being shown at your local cinema, and that you can wander in and take a seat in the audience. Imagine that you are looking up at the screen and watching all those daily drams being enacted there in front of you. Now, take a step back. Leave that person sitting in the stalls watching the film, and imagine that you are yet another person entering the cinema. You are sitting behind the original 'you' and you are now watching a member of the audience watching the enactment of a story on the screen.

Has this exercise enabled you to step back? Each time we realise that we are observing our lives, we also realise that we cannot be that role. How can you possibly be something or someone that you are watching? How can you be something or someone that you can evaluate and consider? And when the second observer then watches the first observer . . . well, how beautiful detached is that viewpoint? Detached, but not uncaring. In fact, it could be that we can only truly care when we are doing so dispassionately. Involvement provokes opinion . . . emotion . . . taking sides . . . but if you're sitting there in the cinema there are no sides to take. There is a play, a beautifully-written and gripping play, there are also fine actors and a masterly director. But it's a play. The onlooker can step back and occupy another dimension.

Yes, I know. It's all very well to pass on a fine analogy, but am I, personally, capable of putting this advice into practice?
I wish that I were. Nonetheless, there are moments, every now and then . . . when captured, perhaps, by the beauty of a flower, or the song of a bird . . . or when I momentarily pause, forget the past, stop imagining a future, and take a deep breath . . . then I can see the play for what it is, my role for what it is, and, just for a moment, relax in my cinema seat, look around me, and scrape off a little of the accumulated grease-paint!

How about you . . . ?