Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Party's Over

Following is an excerpt from my book "I Just Happened To Be There," which my agent is about to shop. See the rest of my blog for more on the book and other assorted topics.

Coming Of Age, Or When Coming Is No Longer Enough

Stanislavsky, the famed Russian teacher of the method system of acting said, “In communicating these thoughts to you, I hope that each of you possesses the sort of love that will teach him to devote all his life to the service of art. Do not try to push your way through to the front ranks of your profession; do not run after distinctions and rewards; but do your utmost to find an entry into the world of beauty. If you find it in yourself once, having achieved only for a few hours during your studies the fullest harmony of mind and heart, you will already be able to bring undeniably creative treasures into the life of the stage. And even if these do not reach the stage in your person today, they will not be entirely lost, for they will remain in your subconsciousness, and while mute today, you will project them into your life tomorrow in some other part and strike a responsive chord of beauty in the people around you”
It is over and above mere advice for a system of acting, it is sound advice for life itself. It was true when he wrote it, it perfectly describes hitting that note in the 60s, and serves as good advice today. But if all the world’s a stage, why be a mere player? Why sit in the audience? Why not star in the production of our own lives? Star in it by hitting it head on, exploring it to its fullest, being open and letting it flow through you. This is what I tried to do in the time we call “the sixties.”
In my course of experimentation with “mind-expanding drugs,” I failed to recognize that they were just what they were billed to be—mind-expanding. They were not a ticket to ride into blissful states beyond. They might expand what is there, but they do not bring anything out of you that was not there already, nor do they put anything in.
That means they can only take you so far without repeating the experience. It is said that madness is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. In this sense, I was mad.
If love is the fiber that holds us together, then those who are spiritually inclined and on a course of consciousness-raising will touch upon a state of euphoria. Tasting this nectar for even a single moment is enough to make one devote one’s life to achieving that state again—wanting to know more about it, why it feels so right, trying to touch it one more time, to verify its existence, and maybe, to stay longer next time—in the hope it can become a permanent feeling. Once experienced, it will always be there for you, acting as a shield from the difficult headwinds of life, and helping you to remember that there is more as you deal with day-to-day challenges. In 1969, I lived to recreate those moments. Another hit please! Given the times, I had a lot of company, at least for a while.

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