Monday, September 14, 2009

Wake me up when September ends...

So one of you, I think it was my beloved JMarls (who writes beautifully, by the way...go check out her blog if you appreciate a little creative writing in your blog dashboards) asked what I actually said to those poor unfortunate kids who were stuck listening to me for five whole minutes at a youth conference in LA over Labor Day weekend, after they'd spent the day getting all hyped up on the glitz and glamour of Hollywood at Universal Studios and Grauman's Chinese Theater, and I figured...meh. Maybe I should share.

It's just that I've been in a quiet mood lately, as you might notice with the light posting last week, and then I had a full and busy and wonderful weekend with many, many pics that I will post, and now I'm back on Monday and my head is spinning a little and I'm feeling a very strong urge to burrow and then nap for the rest of September.

I also really didn't want or feel like blogging on 9/11 because everyone's got their stories to share, so maybe the quiet was just a little bit more than usual because it is what it is when you really come down to it. I know that sounds all zen/vague but I can't really sit here and wax poetic about something that still burns so fiercely in all of our hearts and pretend we don't all wince just a little bit when someone mentions it. It's the bullet in the room, and every time it's mentioned it kind of goes zinging around and then you're left feeling sad about why you're still sad and angry about why you're still angry. I don't know, maybe the point is that we're not supposed to ever stop feeling sad or angry.

Anyways. Back to my youth event/pep talk/spiritual kick in the butt, because I'd much rather use this blog to move forward than to look back.

Labor Day weekend, Santa Monica: So I'm holding a microphone OH THE POWER in front of 90 or so kids Saturday night and I'm thinking, What would I have liked to hear when I was their age? What would I have wanted someone to tell me about spirituality in Hollywood? Or in general?

So I told them what I thought they might like to hear. I said, "What I would have liked to hear when I was your age is that spirituality and religion help you get everything you want."

I paused as the kids nodded enthusiastically, then went on to say: "And that's absolutely NOT TRUE."

Their faces fell. I have to admit, I felt a little bad. But I wanted to give them something that had never been given to me when I was a teenager contemplating my bad ass spiritual self. I wanted to give them honesty, and perspective. Two things that most teenagers royally suck at. Most adults do as well, and no, I'm not excluding myself, have no fear. I suck as much as everyone else, I just blog about it.

FYI, I'll just clarify right now: I enjoy using the words "spirituality" and "spiritual" much more than I enjoy using the words "religion" or "religious." Spirituality to me connotes open-minded questioning yummy goodness... when people tell me they are "super-religious" I think close-minded, found-my-answers-thank-you-very-much-not-interested-at-all-in-growing. You might disagree, and feel free to (politely and respectfully) beg your argument on this blog. I'm just letting you know what language I use so we don't get all lost in translation.

So this is what I said to those kids and adults grouped together in that small room, a stone's throw from the sunset soaked Santa Monica beach:

Don't use your spirituality to get what you want.

Spirituality isn't selfish. It's not Me-driven, it's growth-driven. If you're going to pray to a god or gods, why are you only interested in blessing yourself? Spirituality is NOT The Secret -- it's not there to use when you want more crap, like that sports car or better job or nice jewelry. Spirituality is based upon an agreement of service, of giving to others without asking for anything in return, in the spirit of GIVING vs the spirit of GETTING. We are a very getting culture.

I remember hearing someone say once that if you pray to God for a better job, and you then receive a better job, but you have not yet learned to love your neighbor better, then you should consider that prayer to have gone unanswered. Because in the end, it's not the cars or jobs or paychecks that allow us to lift up our own thoughts and lives and the thoughts and lives of others, it is our love for each other.

God lifts up those who lift up each other.

So with more personal stories and less soapbox, this is what I said to those kids, because I really would have liked someone to say that to me when I was nineteen and praying to book that audition or for that boy to like me and I really didn't care how much I loved other people or what that had to do with me getting absolutely everything I ever wanted and feeling smug in the notion that God would deliver all of it if I was a Really Good Person. I didn't understand it then. I wish I had.

So I gave what I had to offer to that room in Santa Monica that night, I gave them my gift, for them to forget or discard or remember or treasure, and I told them that in the spirit of service, of pure, un-needing love, for them to go into any career, not just acting, and show up every day, to every audition, meeting, handshake, Starbucks purchase, job interview, whatever, and look someone in the eye and say, "Here's what I have to give. Can you use it?"

And if they can't use it, no harm, no foul, let it go, someone else can use it, because we all have purpose when we decide to live our lives so that our love may shine through, regardless of which (if any) religion it shines with.

And if you're feeling all preached to or judged right now, rest assured: no one needs to learn this lesson more than I do. It is the lessons we most need to learn that we best teach to others.

Have a fantastic Monday, and I'll catch you guys tomorrow with So.Many.Photos it will make your head explode. No seriously. Heads.Exploding.Everywhere.


life according to celia... said...

beautiful. :)

drollgirl said...

i hope the lesson was well received!

my dad was a preacher when i was a kid, and i have a lot of problems with religion and spirituality (or those that use either to get what they want and/or to tell others how they should or should not live). but this is a tricky topic and i try not to judge others that think differently than me.

i am pretty sure that made zero sense.

i liked what you wrote about needing quiet. sometimes it is such a good thing, and i am craving it right now. sometimes it just helps -- a lot.

Wine and Words said...

Amen Sista! Can I get a witness????

Diana said...

Religion is such a dirty word. blech!

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

That was just great!

Lira said...

Very well put and beautifully written. Go Tracy!

Archana said...

I definitely would consider myself more spiritual than religious. I kinda share most of your thoughts on this topic.

But the one thing I definitely agree on is this, "God lifts up those who lift up each other." So, so true.

Shanna Suburbia said...

I've never been religious but I've also never really stopped to think about whether or not I was spiritual. I wasn't raised under any particular school of spirituality so it's really down to choosing what I think is best. (which, like I said, I've never really thought about.)

You may think you were being a little harsh but I'll bet your honesty really touched a lot of people and hopefully opened them up to thinking that there is a lot more to shaping your life than religion.

Jenn said...

you are SO right about this. i wish i had heard you speak when i was a kid! :)

Joker_SATX said...

Very well written. In a round about way, this is something I am trying to teach my oldest Step Son. He has a streak of selfishness going on that I am afraid that the only way he will learn to care for others is to lose everything himself.

Hope it doesn't get to that point but.....

Kristy said...

love the title of this, poetic

Jmarls80 said...

A good message - an honest message - I wish I had heard that when I was their age too. Being an actor can feel like such a powerless position: you need other people to do what you love (unless you don't mind busting out the occasional monologue at parties or in the grocery store but I think that might make you crazy?), so I understand the appeal of religion, in general, and The Secret, in particular - both give context, give structure, give power when actors feel (rightfully?) that they have very little.

Better for these kids to hear it now...maybe it will save them some time and heartache.

(thanks for the love in your blog, by the way!)

Kristin Quinn said...

Wonderfully said, Tracy!

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