That’s how my script for tomorrow begins. My heart raced when I realized we already had to perform on the first day of class, and even harder as I opened the script she said was for me. Memorize this by Sunday, she said over email.
I spent hours in an empty classroom pacing, sitting, and reciting these lines. The hardest part is never the memorization, it’s the performance. And knowing that, in the course of this past week, I ended up befriending two new friends by randomly grabbing students from the hallways and asking if they might be my audience.
I love acting because it is such an art. And it quickly dawned on me that theatrics don’t improve your performance. My first instructor from acting school last year, when she sat me down and asked me to perform for her- she halted me at every sentence. “Stop.” She would say. “Stop acting. Just SAY the lines.” And I knew what she meant and what she was looking for when she showed us how she would say the lines. It was like magic. She wasn’t acting. She was just…saying the lines in an unbelievably realistic manner. And I’ve been striving to calm myself down, and to hone the same realism into my acting.
I don’t know if they were just saying it. But after I had completed my script in front of both these girls, they were quiet. And the first thing they both said was, wow. And I hoped that I had achieved what I was looking to do. I don’t know. Cause I can’t ever really watch myself perform. I can record it alone, and I can film it alone. Listen back on those clips. But in the end, what matters is what happens to me when I know I’m “really performing” in front of an unknown crowd.
I have a colleague who has been a long standing member on AA. He’s been sober 11 years. This week, I asked if he would mind sharing his experience at AA with me, so that I might have a better sense of my surroundings for the purpose of this script. And with no hesitation, he said, “not at all.”
“I have a PhD in AA,” he told me.
In the span of an uninterrupted 5 minutes, he shared with me what the meetings were like. His experience with coaching and helping people. The difficulty of learning humility. And he said he’s never cried about this. But in that moment with just me and him – he did.
He is a very wise person. And he’s been through a lot. Always has some words of wisdom to spread. And he said this to me on Friday:
“If you want to be happy for an hour, take a nap. If you want to be happy for a day, go fishing. If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, help other people.”
He said that if I ever wanted to attend an AA meeting to see what it was like, he would take me. He told me to just tell them that I was here to listen. I might take him up on that one day.