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What Makes Us Present? This One’s A Surprise!

I was watching Dustin Hoffman’s Master Class on acting and loved some things he said.

Way before everyone got on the “be present” bandwagon, that was the crux of what any acting teacher taught.

When I was a much younger actress, I didn’t get it. I could tap into my emotions freely, but I didn’t have enough life experience to know what it was like to be TRULY present with another person.

Too often, I was more interested in how I looked or came across or what the director or audience thought of me. This kind of self-referencing is the death of an actor.

And so it with life or any other creative endeavor—we’re not HONESTLY engaged if we’re thinking about how we’re being perceived.

Here are 3 things Dustin Hoffman said that delighted me:

1.) Your art is telling the TRUTH in a way you can’t in life.

When we create, we have PERMISSION to say and do what we otherwise may not allow ourselves. This is the greatest thing about art.

We get to . . .

. . . take risks, feel deeply and be vulnerable.

. . . expose ourselves, our stories, our pain and our joys freely.

. . . tell our inner secrets in a safe space.

. . . be courageous and open rather than protect ourselves.

. . . feel connected with another because we’re engaged intimately.

2.) In life, we try to RE-create and that’s the worst we can do. Go somewhere you haven’t been before.

When I paint and try to create an image that’s an exact replica of what I think it should it be in my mind, I kill my spontaneous free expression.

The image I see in my mind can NEVER be re-created—it’s already in the past like last night’s dream.

When I meet the canvas without pre-conceiving, I allow the current of the unknown to flow through me.

In life, we consciously or unconsciously create our present moments based on memory.

It’s like when we try to repeat the time we once fell in love with a new person—but no two loves are alike.

We try to re-create moments of joy with the same color or exhilaration—but as we grow, joy is felt differently.

We’re changing every moment. That’s the bottom line, even though our mind wants to hit replay because it’s all it knows from experience.

Living for the moment, we’re curious about what we couldn’t know until it comes forward.

3.) All you can do is be IN there. Not where you want to be but where you ARE.

We’re always searching for results. We want assurance of where we’re going and how so the past is our reference.

But when we’re truly moved it’s when we’re SURPRISED. We’re taken somewhere new—somewhere we haven’t been before.

When we hear someone telling a joke our mind races ahead trying to guess the punch line. What makes the joke funny is the punch line we weren’t expecting.

What gets us most excited during a sports game is how we can’t predetermine what’ll happen. We wait and anticipate a goal. How and when will our team score?

We’re looking for surprises all the time because let’s face it—we think we’ve pretty much got it all figured out.

But the only way to be surprised is to be FULLY in the moment. That’s where the thunderbolts of inspiration come.

So, this week – lets be open to revelation. Be NATO (Not Anticipating The Outcome) and see what happens.

Wishing you a week of punch lines!

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Lynn Newman