By Allen Levin
I’ve been crying. My heart hurts. I’m in pain. Pain is a part of life. It’s just as beautiful as joy. Feeling pain is a part of being alive. I love being free of pain. I also (in a sense) love the pain itself. Nothing in this world can’t be appreciated. There is a silver lining to all of it. My pain is very real based on a current event in my life. I’m grateful for all that life has given me. I’m grateful for the time I had with my first cat, Loopie.
Loopie has gone missing. I haven’t seen her since Monday afternoon. I’ve been searching the neighborhood and enlisting help. If anyone sees her, I’m sure I’ll be notified. I’ve loved this cat as a best friend for 13.5 years. She’s my family. I hope she’s somewhere that she’s happy and healthy. That would be best case scenario. I’ve tried to ready myself for this moment and despite thinking about it a lot (there were many times where Loopie needed medical attention in the last 8 years, one notable time when her heart swelled to 5 times it’s original thickness) and even crying a lot, it’s still damn tough thinking I might not see her again.
I’m so very happy for all the great memories. She’s my heart. Most of the concern and pain I can control. I don’t want to hide from it. I don’t want it to articulate itself in other ways (like a fight with Emily about something random). I want to feel it. I can channel it. I’ve reached out to two acting partners. I’d like to run a scene today. I know it will be great therapy and I know I can kill. What hurts us in life can be used for our acting.
There is no greater honor than putting the memory of a loved one in your work. It’s never “too fresh” a wound. Use what you have. It’s yours. Your art deserves your true feelings. If I were auditioning against you today, look out. I’d be loaded. I can turn it on and off at will. I’ve learned how to utilize my vehicle in the last 20 plus years. This is a great benefit of being an actor. We can use our pain for our work. We can allow the therapy of the emoting without burning bridges in the real world. We can deal with the pain in positive ways.
Last night as I was navigating the pain I felt I allowed myself to cry full on, and then cut it off. I turned it on again. Once again I cut it entirely off. This is like an audition. When the emotional scene is over you must be able to turn it off. Smile at the producers and say, “Wow. That was beautiful.” When you can turn it all the way off, people will want to work with you. If you walk out crying, don’t expect a phone call. When you are loaded, move around in your vehicle. It doesn’t cheapen what you are going through, it’s good for you as an actor. It’s also good for you as a person.
If for some reason you realize that this weaving into and out of your pain is hurting you in any way, stop immediately. Monitor yourselves. I wouldn’t want anyone to end up truly hurting themselves due to this exercise. I believe it to be of value. You must test things on your own. Perhaps what works for me will end up making you worse off. Test it. Does it help you too?
I’m sure tonight I’ll cry. I’m sure tomorrow as well. If she returns I can still use the pain of what nearly happened. I love crying real tears. It’s a part of life. It’s not “weakness” as high school jocks claim. It’s real. Its powerful. It’s beautiful. A good cry feels great. I always feel lighter after a good purging cry. Many times after a brutal cry I’ll take a glance in the mirror and in a funny way I see my red and wet face and say, “it’s a shame you weren’t on stage.”
Even the consideration of the pain helps me to deal with it. I’m happy to acknowledge it. Last night I simply said to Emily after a nice walk where we were searching for our cat, “I feel sad. I miss Loopie.” She said, “I do too.” Simple. Honest. Beautiful. I don’t hide my feelings like I did before I was an actor. I allow them to be when I’m with those I love. I can absolutely push my feelings down for later when I’m teaching. It’s not my students responsibility to carry my weight. I must carry my own pain. I pride myself on teaching at times when I’m in pain. I’ve never been busted. My students, who like to look closely at me, have never had to come up and say, “Are you alright?”
Let’s carry our pain and share it with our family and our dearest friends. Let’s allow our peers to continue onward with their journey. One thing I won’t do is tell everyone I can about this issue (now that the “cat is out of the bag” I suppose I won’t need to anyway…. these are the jokes…. they suck… but they will do for today). During my walk with Toby earlier on people asked me how I was doing. “I’m great! And you?”
Aside: I’m not in need of any sympathy, but thanks to those that would send it. Let’s keep the comments to the topic of dealing with pain. I’m perfectly ok. I’ll keep you all posted should my angel return.
Use your pain, don’t let the pain use you. Put it into your work. Allow it to be. Feel it. Understand it. Trace it back. Be able to bring it up when you’d like. Harness this pain. Use it. If I were auditioning I’d book something in honor of Loopie. My best friend. My heart. I’ll send out into the atmosphere that I hope she comes home. If she doesn’t, I’m forever grateful for the time I had with her. I was blessed by her inclusion in my life. I welcome her to come back home. I’m also grateful for my actor’s brain. I’m grateful to have positive places to put my sadness, my anger, my joy. I’m grateful for my understanding of my heart and the world. I’ll continue to explore and learn as my journey inward continues.
Inward and UP!
UPDATE: Loopie has now been found!!! She’s happy and healthy. Best case scenario!