I had one of those experiences last night where I could literally feel my heart swell inside of my chest.
And not because I ran into my former scene partner from acting school who literally is the doppelgänger of Enrique Eglasias.
Sorry, completely inappropriate for the topic of tonight’s post. Although…is it though? Because the woman this post is about, my late acting teacher, put us together as scene partners, because she “saw us lookers together.”
I don’t know what she saw in me, but I’ll take it…
My acting teacher recently passed away. She was the epitome of old New York Broadway glamour. She was in her nineties. A broadway starlet in her heyday. Had a legendary affair with an elite Hollywood movie star – to the point that he wrote a book about her. But more than any of those accolades, she was a great teacher. And she believed in me.
Last night, at my acting school in NYC, they held a celebration in her honor. It was standing room only in the auditorium where people had literally flown in from all over the country – and even around the world – to gather to pay their respects and say something kind about the woman who changed their lives.
Like I said: this woman was incredible — and personally taught Alec Baldwin, Adam Sandler…I could go on.
Listening to everyone share their favorite memories, and the impact she had on their lives, it made me realize the breadth of this woman’s heart. She gave. She personally invested in each and every one of those people there, and made them feel empowered. She instilled in them the power to believe in themselves. And that is a beautiful thing.
I went home that night, and thumbed through all of my old acting journals from my time in her class. And I had some good chuckles at some of her idioms that were “so her.” She’d always utter in her raspy, heavily New York accented voice: “You’ve got ta find the why!” And of course, “Where’s the humor?”
But I’ll never forget a moment that we had after class one day. I had done a particularly emotional scene….with doppelgänger Enrique…but she asked me to stay after.
And I wrote down our interaction, because I was just taken aback at how perceptive she was. She got me. That was the thing about Hope, is that the very first day of class, you walk on stage by yourself, and she instantly is able to tell you your weakness as an actor. Which sounds incredibly harsh and just…yikes! But it’s not at all like that. It’s a growing exercise. And frankly, free therapy.
But that night, she said, “There’s more going on inside of you than you’re letting out. And that’s what we want to see. That’s the emotion.”
She nailed it, didn’t she?
This was pre-BBB. Pre-book. Pre-even remembering or allowing a thought about that time during my eating disorder to cross my mind. I had it all bottled up. Those memories and feelings were suppressed in the deepest recesses of my spirit. And Hope knew. She could sense that there was more behind my eyes.
What she said to me that evening, it stuck with me. In fact, I’d like to think that it was the seed that grew to move me to start writing about my past and start this blog.
I know that the most recent posts on this blog are all motivational, positive, faith-centric. But that is the result of a dramatic evolution.
When I started this blog, it was to get my story out. Not for an audience. Or for recognition. But for me. To dig up those broken, shattered pieces of my past that I had buried away. The emotion that Hope knew I had somewhere deep down, hidden away.
This blog was my unearthing process. Shared with the possible hopes that it could bring insight or perspective to a sufferer or loved one.
My teacher, Hope, taught me that my story was worth telling.
She cared. And she made me believe I was capable of sharing it.
She was a courage fosterer. A confidence builder. A soul searcher and pull-er-out-er.
I can’t believe I was so blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from such a giving, empowering, and perceptive woman.
I’m realizing now, that the true measure of our lives is the collection of what we give, rather than what we do or achieve.
And even though Hope had lived out both of those things, quite impressively, every person in that room was celebrating how she had given them something intangible that changed their lives for the better.
I guess after all, she lived out her own philosophy: Find the why.
Why do we live? She answered it through example: we live to love.
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