What Does It Mean To Live Your Life?
What does it mean to live your life?
I had a taste of the art of living in April, 2008, when my sister, Lynne, and I, boarded a bus to New York City, two hundred miles from where we live in Upstate New York.
This was not a typical visit to see the sights. Lynne had, so far, taken sixty round trips to New York to attend acting classes at the Ward Studio on 28th Street. She was doing this because of her desire to be an actress.
These very intense classes use what is called the Meisner approach, named after Sanford Meisner who died in 1997 at the age of 91. Since his death classes have continued. Examples of those who have studied under Meisner are actress Diane Keaton and Director Sydney Pollack.
On this particular day some of Lynne's advanced classmates would be performing in an Off Off Broadway show titled, "At The Hand Of My Mother." My sister wanted to see the play, and she invited me to come with her.
The lights went out promptly at 3:00 p.m., and the two-hour show began with the actors and actresses performing directly in front of us. I could almost reach out and touch them.
I was blown away.
Almost every actor and actress were assigned two parts. For example, one actress played a lawyer in the first scene. In the second scene she performed as a nun.
The plot included scenes with a deaf girl as well as, a bell choir. Therefore, most of the performers had to learn sign language and how to play the bells.
These dedicated people rehearsed the play for eight solid months, and they performed it twice a day on Saturday and Sunday for four months.
Throughout the performance right to the ending (which brought tears to my eyes) one word kept coming to mind. That word was passion. Never had I witnessed such passion on the faces of those people for the parts they were playing. For the first time I realized what my sister was talking about when she told me that, in acting, Sanford Meisner pounded into his students that "acting is the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances."
Those on the stage shut out the audience. They were totally into character.
At the end of the show the actors and actresses were beaming when they took their bow.
Why were they so animated? Because they were living their lives. They were simply doing what they loved to do. If their lives ended that day, they would leave this planet knowing they gave acting a shot.
This trip to the city gave me pause. On our way home, while sitting on the bus, I reflected on the whole day.
When Lynne and I had arrived a couple hours before the play we had lunch at The Flame Diner. While seated there among happy tourists, eating steaming chicken noodle soup, hot tea and half a turkey sandwich I thought to myself, "This is great. This is living!"
Lynne then took me to a deli. She told me their muffins were to die for. While I was ordering a lemon/blueberry muffin to take home, a dessert in their glass case labeled "Raspberry Charlotte" caught my eye. It was a small round cake with raspberry icing, raspberry mousse filling, covered with a clear raspberry gel, topped with a chocolate slice and a real raspberry.
This elegant concoction cost me $5.00. I did not care! Lynne ate half, and I ate half. I drank some of Lynne's coffee, the best coffee I've ever tasted. No kidding!
At that moment I had an epiphany. I thought about life. Passion. Simple enjoyments, like eating chicken soup and Raspberry Charlotte in a magical city surrounded by enthusiastic tourists.
I learned more that day about the art of living than in any of the books I have read on the subject.
Therefore, in answer to the question, "What does it mean to live your life?" I believe it means what each individual on the planet wants it to mean.
For example, once a week I go to a local bakery to buy bread. I see the same group of men - the "regulars" - sitting around the table in the back eating lunch, drinking coffee and enjoying their time together. They are living their lives.
One year at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I sat on the balcony overlooking the ocean watching the sun rise. As daylight emerged I spotted the silhouette of a fisherman standing on the beach casting his line. At that moment he was living his life.
As for myself, I plan to take more day trips to New York City. Each time I go I would like to visit a different eating place and sample different soups and unique desserts.
Finally, I have to share what my sister said to me enroute to the city on the bus. She was wearing a beautiful cornflower blue shaggy sweater and gorgeous silver earrings with royal blue stones on the tips. She had on frosted pink lipstick, and her blonde hair glistened in the sun.
I said to her, "You look great!" to which she replied, "If I'm going to be an actress, I have to dress like one!"