Stop! Sucking! Day 2: How would the Dalai Lama drive?

There was much stopping today, which means, of course, that there was much starting, restarting, backsliding and general waking slumber.

I'm guessing that much of my slumbering wakefulness--or wakeful slumberingness--is due to the soporific qualities my day-to-day, hour-to-hour life has taken on over the past two to three years. The life of an actor is many things, but dull and repetitive is usually not one of them.

Not that you can't sleepwalk your way through anything (and from what I've seen, certain types of regular theatrical employment can be spectacularly stultifying) but when you're in the thick of the hustle--running from class to audition to rehearsal to gig to audition--even with lots of lather/rinse/repeat, there's just too much randomness to get dull. Not to mention heartache. Way, way more than my life now, which changes hardly at all, heart-wise included, from day-to-day or even hour-to-hour.

Or does it?

Or, should I say, are things changing around me all the time that I'm just not seeing, because I'm making myself see things in a certain way, because it's just...well, so much easier than living every moment.

Easier up to a point, anyway, that point for me being yesterday when something flipped a switch in me and made me go public with one of these #$%^!) salutes. And really, they're not easier, any of those things; it takes a lot of energy to throw up the walls and batten down the hatches day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. It isn't really less taxing to stick to the same-old, same old; it's just less scary. Which is why, every once in a while, I have to throw myself under a bus.

Today, I stopped and checked in during tea brewing, egg making, email checking and Quark wrassling. Stop and check, stop and check. Probe. Wait a beat. See if something bubbles up, something instructive.

Nothing nothing nothing. (Although just the stopping and checking made me feel a little better. Probably the feeling of control over one's own destiny.)

Finally, I had to go out in the world and meet people. The owner of this place, actually, who is lovely and interesting and one hell of a cook. Angelenos, take notice! But I wasn't thrilled about it, because I wasn't thrilled about any of it. I just felt kind of...oogy, which as any major dude will tell you is no way to go meet up with a relatively new acquaintance to talk bidness.

As I'm tooling across town in hot, late-afternoon traffic, feeling the crankbutt in me gearing up for a big tantrum, a thought flashed through my head: how would the Dalai Lama drive across town in afternoon rush hour?

How, indeed! Well, the Lama would sit up a little straighter, I imagined. And he'd probably slow down...maybe let a few people cut in, even if they didn't technically have the right of way.

He'd be wearing those nice robes, I thought, and would probably have his sandaled feet in relaxed and ready position. And, since he didn't get the chance to drive himself around Los Angeles in a Corolla very often, he might even be...interested. He might look around 3rd Street--which most Angelenos would think looks like a run down P.O.S. stretch of strip-mall-and-cheesy-fast-food nothing and think..."Cool!"

And it was kind of cool, now that I was looking at it like the Dalai Lama. Everything was so different. Every inch of everything was unique. A small girl wearing a wide gold lamé belt. A brick wall with earthquake retrofitting. Run-over fast food cups in the gutter. An old, old woman in a sweater fully half as old as she was, rolling her cart across the intersection. Things that were ugly were suddenly so beautiful just by virtue of their being, it was kind of overwhelming: not unlike being on magic mushrooms, only without the nausea and the timesuck.

I wouldn't say I was happy, exactly, but yes, there was a kind of strange, joyful connectedness. An ache for the specific aliveness of each thing--that simultaneous thrill that so many different things existed and that someday they would all be gone. Maybe horribly. Maybe all at once.

I left the Dalai Lama somewhere around Virgil, and rode the rest of the way as myself. No filters, no hacks. The rest of today has been pretty peachy-magical, and I can assure you that I won no lottery, lost no 8 lbs. in an hour, shed none of the woes I haul around with me from place to place.

Except the idea that I can't, on a dime, shrug off those woes by slipping into a different way of thinking.

The Dalai Lama says "stop"...then go...

xxx c

Image by el Fotopakismo via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.