Thursday, February 09, 2012


Ecclesiastes says there's a time for everything. I'm learning to discern when is the time to speak and when is the time to be silent. I am taking a class in the scientific study of humans as part of the general requirements to finish a Theatre degree. The teacher in the beginning of the class rubbed his goatee and brought up the subject of spirituality and religion. He said that the belief that there may be a higher intelligence behind the universe or life after death are not valid science questions and will not be discussed. He elaborated that anything relatable to religion can not be examined rationally to see if it's true. Than he asked if there were any questions or comments. I raised my hand and said, "I agree with that to some extent, we can't scientifically examine if angels exist for example, but we can look at archeological and historical records and evidence to ask: "What evidence is there to authenticate or falsify stories in the bible? Or, to examine the historical evidence and ask: Does it substantiate that Jesus, or Muhammad or Buddha ever lived, or that Moses led the Israelites on an exodus from Egypt?" He became defensive and said the matter would not be discussed further. He is completely married to his "two pie theory" that we have the normal world which we can observe and the spiritual realm which is faith alone without any intellectual component. I think I will button my lip and not bring up questions that challenge his assumptions on spiritual things anymore.

Later that afternoon I was rehearsing a scene in Santa Monica with an actress who in the middle of doing a scene with me and other actors, would text on her cellphone when she wasn't the actor speaking. I was startled by this. She texted until it was her time to talk, then she'd stop for a moment, say her line, then go back to texting away until it was her turn to give a line again. She seemed to have important things on her mind, so important she parked her Mercedes in the handicapped parking illegally outside the door. I've worked with actors who aren't listening because they are new to acting. And sometimes as actors we have to work against green screens and no one else present, or with a bad actor or a stand-in who is not an actor. Part of me wanted to say something but I decided to put my irritation into the character and hope for the best that it won't continue.

I don't like how cell-phones have robbed us of being fully present and engaged with each other. The ubiquitous nature of cell-phone use has become surreal, almost comical. I've had quiet moments interrupted by cell-phone conversations in libraries, movie theaters, during plays, on the beach, during church, and even from the stall beside me in the bathroom. An actor texting during a scene was a first for me and I've done a fairly good bit of acting in theatre, television, and film. I like new media and I have a presence on Facebook and Youtube and I like to blog. I pick and choose which parts of our societal changes I like, and one I don't like is how two people can be together and not really be together and focused.

Sometimes I gauge whether or not to say something based on whether I think the person is mature enough or open-minded enough to get it. Some of my friends are extreme religious fundamentalists and I know trying to get them to see things differently is a waste of breath. They will pick out one lyric in one of my songs or one line in my novel and tell me why they are offended by it, often for a strange or convoluted reason. I've decided it's not worth the effort to get into it with them unless they are willing to drop their certitude and have a respectful conversation. My friends who are on the extreme fringe politically or religiously are very emotional if you question their way of thinking.

I'm learning to grow in my emotional intelligence and allow people to be rude or crude or indifferent and not take it personally. Maybe the teacher I mentioned earlier was threatened and insecure. Maybe the actor had a hot date waiting for her who she decided was more important than the scene. Maybe my religious fundamentalist friends have become trapped in their way of thinking because their opinions give them a sense of security. Maybe they're all learning and trying in this crazy world like me to figure out the times and seasons.

The philosopher Hegel said, "The owl of Minerva flies only at dusk." This was an ancient and poetic way of saying wisdom comes later. My professor friend who is close-minded on spiritual subjects might defend his dogmatism by saying, "We can't measure in a test tube today whether there is life after death, therefore, it is not a valid question." But Hegel is closer to the truth. We will find out the answer, just not right now. We will eventually. At dusk. We don't have all the answers at present. We have to wait.

We can look back at past history and say, "Maybe we should have done this or that differently in Vietnam." We can look back on our lives one day and have greater clarity about the mistakes we made. The temporary rudeness and obtuse behavior of others is a phase. A moment. It doesn't mean they are rude 24/7 or that they always will be or that they are bad people. They are part of the outer environment we cannot control. If we give grace for mistakes, and drop the blame toward them and ourselves, we eventually will hear the wisdom of the owl who flies at dusk.

The bottom line from a big picture perspective is that everything doesn't have to be perfect right now this instant. One day every knee will bow to the truth and every tongue will confess the wisdom that comes with dusk. For now, I don't have to straighten out every rude or close-minded person I encounter. As it's said in the Twelve Step recovery program, "Progress, not perfection." I will strive to make my movie about Roberto Clemente the most beautiful film I can under the circumstances, rather than a perfect film. I will try my best for my creative collaborators and to be the best I can be towards my family and friends today.

Love to all,



Blogger Steve Finnell said...

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February 9, 2012 at 3:36 PM  
Blogger Richard Rossi said...

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March 16, 2012 at 4:35 PM  

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