My former college roommate and good friend Kellie used to have this saying, accompanied by a frilly hand gesture. The sign of the cross (sort of) followed by a flinging motion. "Bless it and release it, " she would say.
It was only partially tongue in cheek.
We're all pack animals, we humans. Most of us go through life carrying so much baggage, and more is constantly being piled on top, until we are so weighed down we can barely move and have forgotten what it is like to dance, to walk freely, to swing our arms and breathe. Because one of our greatest strengths --- which is also one of our greatest weaknesses --- is adaptability. Handicapped by a loss of a limb (physical or psychological), or piled with burdens we at first think unbearable, we slowly change to accommodate our new existence. It's like chronic pain; you know it's there, but you just get used to it and go on with your life. Not everyone adapts, of course; there are breaking points. But most of us can, and do, put up with quite a lot.
It doesn't mean we're happy. You can go on living a long time in quiet misery. Or with great pain and unhappiness in a certain part of your life, while other parts are bearable and even happy and enjoyable. We're odd creatures, we humans.
Sometimes, all you really can do in the immediate moment is to deal with the pressing issue and move on until a better solution can be found; but too often, we just learn to live with the emergency measures. Sometimes it takes a catastrophic event to make us re-evaluate; other times we just reach a level of maturity or receive insights or wake up one day and say to ourselves, "You know, I'm tired of living this way."
I think I've done a little of all of the above.
My newest health-and-fitness project, now that my meniscus tear is repaired and my knee is on the mend, is to come to greater physical health and fitness through greater mental and spiritual health fitness. And with this comes a deeper exploration of the concept of release.
A few years ago, my incredibly talented friend, actor-singer-songwriter-photographer DC Anderson, who is also, unsurprisingly, an amazing human being, met me for lunch in Boston where we were both working. We talked about auditioning, and he told me something AMAZING that changed my own auditioning life. He said he had simply decided never to have a bad audition again. He had gone in to read after another actor who he greatly admired and who always seemed to give a terrific reading, and he decided that from that moment on, he was going to only give Actor X's audition: committed, entertaining, moving,dynamic, fantastic. This, by the way, doesn't guarantee that you'll get the job, only that you'll be amazing. Try it --- I did --- it works.
I've decided to apply DC's philosophy to other areas of my life. I am officially releasing society and the media and the rest of the world of responsibility for judging my physical image and how I feel about it. I've decided that from now on, I look FANTASTIC at all times. With or without makeup, hair untouched by brush and curlers or styled to the nines, wearing sweats or wearing a carefully crafted outfit, I look great. So do you, by the way. Believe it.
I've also decided to apply the concept of release to my eternal battle with my weight. I want to be healthy. I want to continue to eat good, real food that is not processed or full of chemicals, and has no truck whatsoever with the likes of Monsanto. I want to be able to hike 16 miles through the Texas Hill Country in 100+ degree weather again; I want to be able to do P90X again; I'd really like to complete (if not actually run) a marathon before I die. I got stuff to do. But worrying constantly about my weight and about what I'm putting into my mouth every moment isn't serving me well. So, my project for the summer is to walk as much as my knee will let me, rent a bike for getting around Chautauqua, get back to doing some yoga, and simply not bring unhealthy foods into the house.
A while back, I agreed to take a gig that was somewhat less than thrilling, mainly because of the role itself --- I was happy enough to be working in that location, with those people. Still, if something better had come along, I would have been glad to take it. Something better did come along --- the gig itself turned out to be not only a great experience, but exactly where I needed to be and what I needed to be doing at that moment in time. Now, faced with some plans that are beginning to look like they may not come off as I'd hoped and worked for, I am much less fussed than I might have expected to be. Why? Deep in my heart, I feel that the implosian of these plans may very well lead to opening up space and time and opportunity for something else quite wonderful to happen.
Or, as my wise and funny and darling friend Joey says quite gravely and immediately and confidently, as soon as you voice a worry, "It's going to work out." And you believe him, because he is, after all the Maestro, and he's supposed to know what's what or at the very least make it so. And also because he is, you know, right.
This is the lesson for today and tomorrow and the time being. It's going to work out. The plan is to simply be completely fantastic in all ways. I'm releasing that over which I have no control, and destructive things like worry.
I may need reminding from time to time, but that's ok. Bless it and release it, y'all. Bless it and release it.