This week has been reveal after reveal after reveal. And most of it has been me to myself. I've been stripping off the layers of blame that (I think) protect me from a chaotic and uncontrollable world. And instead, I've been seeking out every single way I can take full responsibility. This might seem noble. It's not. It's out of pure exhaustion. The old way wasn't working. The old way of being disappointed when life didn't work out in the neat little package I planned. The old way of seeing others as emotionally deficient just because they acted in a way I didn't like. The old way of pretending that everything around me which was out of whack somehow had nothing to do with me. I believed it was outside of me. Something else. The world conspired. And little old me was just trying to make it through the madness.
The old way was incredibly (adverb necessary) boring.
This thing happens at auditions that turns (arguably) normal human beings into kinespheric masses of panic. It happens quite frequently to actors at auditions, but this phenomena is by no means just for the artist-in-limbo-type. It flashes its fangs anywhere a person is holding on for dear life. You know it when you see it. The desperation that's hard to cut through. In fact, most times it ends up on my clothes, in my hair, I swallow some of it and get sick for weeks on end coughing up a lung, and while I'm at it, my heart and soul. All thanks to the D word.
On one particular occasion this week, I was at an audition and had a tricky situation with a gatekeeper. (We call them monitors, but for the civilian, think of these people as the ones who say yes you may go in and audition or no you may not.) You can imagine that a gatekeeper is a very difficult job. It requires a concerning amount of restraint in the face of deep, dark desperation.
In this circumstance, the gatekeeper didn't allow myself and another actor in to audition at the time we should have been able to audition. It was all a huge misunderstanding and the gatekeeper truly believed she was following the rules. My actor comrade started a fight with the gatekeeper. It wasn't pretty. Lots of crossed arms, huffing, and those passive-aggressive smiles that make you feel all icky inside. I knew I wasn't going to fight her, so instead I chose to come back later in the day.
The gatekeeper thought she'd be breaking the rules by allowing us in. We disagreed. Was it infuriating? Only if your lungs are filled up with desperation. And believe me, I've been that irate, entitled, arrogant person. Maybe not to that gatekeeper, but to other gatekeepers like the agents at the DMV, in doctor's office waiting rooms, or on the phone with Time Warner.
On that day however, I had already decided to go on this no-blame binge. Meaning, I would take responsibility for any color of happiness or pain that infused my day. Any circumstance I came across, I'd process it as if I brought it into my life by choice. When I considered that my own actions had planned my day, my own expectations had made me rigid, that I am actually not the center of the universe, and perhaps her need to follow the rules was more important in that moment than my need to end my day earlier, then it was rather easy to take that moment for what it was: no big deal.
There are always going to be less than ideal moments. Hell, it's practically guaranteed on your birth certificate that you will get knocked on your ass a few times in this life. But if I play the no-blame game, then my reaction is much more vital than whatever spurred it. I can be happy and not get what I want. I can feel worthy while someone rejects me. I can feel love as people are being downright ignorant.
And then what happens is I've got more space to do things I actually love. I've got more time to write and be with husband and catch up with friends and notice the leaves changing and marvel at this ridiculous city and play a song on my ukulele and cook a meal for a friend and sit on my back porch meditating just because it makes me feel really, really awesome.
This no-blame binge also lets me see where things are going right. Because now I take responsibility for the good stuff, too. The things that are working out, the feedback I'm getting on my writing projects, the callbacks, the relationships I'm building, the laughs I'm having. Those are all built from me, too. And if I take responsibility for the crap, it's logical that I take responsibility for the beauty.
We think taking responsibility is going to weigh us down. We think the burden of owning our life will be heavier than fobbing it off on the poor souls who done us wrong. But claiming something and shedding light on it diminishes its danger. And when we come from a place of love instead of a place of desperation and fear, who knows what we'll be responsible for next.