Relentlessly optimistic


Note: the promised Mystery Readers' Choice Post #2 is in the oven and will be out soon. In the meantime, please enjoy this fresh, delicious content that absolutely nobody asked for.

There is a saying you heard quite often around my old acting studio, and, if a recent visit is proof of anything, still is:

"It breaks your heart."

This is the cost of being a Good Actor, by which I mean not just skilled in the Theatrical Arts but awake, aware, supple and open. It is the price that exquisite sensitivity exacts, and if you want to really Bring It, must be paid over and over again.

Actors, the good ones, get paid to throw their hearts on the railroad tracks in front of speeding trains over and over again. Their hearts are lobbed around like footballs, shot up in the air like skeet, sliced lengthwise for the viewing pleasure of mere mortals.

Do not confuse the external theatricality of actors, even the good ones, for lack of tenderness; the broad gestures and booming voices and dramatic affect are just tools and by-products, and they belie the things they both project and protect.

Why the hell do I bring up actors at a time like this?

Because times like these are all about figuring out how to live like actors do, every time they act.

Times like these require you to expose your soft underbelly, your tender heart, over and over and over again no matter what dark, cold, scary thing you're walking into. They require learning, if you don't know how, to pick yourself up and make one more call, even if you might be rejected, or to reach out to one more person, even though she might turn away.

Times like these are about learning to take one more chance, even though you swear your heart can't take it.

It can. Again and again.

Here's the secret: just like Elizabeth Gilbert said to all the fancy folk at TED, it's not your love; it's everyone's love. It's L-O-V-E. It's the stuff we're all really made of, or at least, it's the stuff that sticks us all together. Plug into it and you're golden, again and again and again. You'll feel stupid and awkward and yeah, you might even cry a few thousand times at first, but it works.

Again and again.

I first labeled myself a Relentless Optimist during my online dating days, because I realized that you know, I was. And however dorky and idiotic it made me to float it out there, well, it was the truth. And not a bad truth. A relentless optimist does not have his head in the clouds; a relentless optimist knows she'll get the holy shit kicked out of her heart...again and again. But she also knows that love, the big kind, the kind that holds us all together and keeps us going and makes all the good things possible (and the bad things slightly less horrifying, if only briefly sometimes), will out. It will fill up her broken heart and mend it up like new, like better than new, because every time you put your heart out there to be broken and it does and instead of pulling it away forever and locking it up in a little box, you put it out there again, your heart gets stronger.

It has to, so it can break, for the world, over and over again.

What we learn now, in the dark, will serve each of us when the lights come back on. Maybe more so, if they don't. (And I hope they will, you know, because I know lots of people who are young and haven't had their at-bat yet, but you never know.)

Let's not dwell on that.

Let's be open one more time each day, one more micron. Let's say, a week from now, "My heart broke FIVE TIMES this week, isn't it fantastic!?"

It is. It is it is it is. Trust me. Trust yourself. Trust that your heart is more magnificently strong than you've ever had the privilege of knowing.

Now get out there and get your heart broken, and so will I.

In relentless optimism, we trust...


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