Years ago, Dorothy Ann Gould shared a simple truth.
I was at a talkback post her performance in Athol Fugard’s Hello and Goodbye at the Market Theatre. A fellow American in the audience of this small black box theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa, asked how the actress endured smoking nearly an entire pack of cigarettes throughout the course of each performance. Sitting for over 2 hours breathing in secondhand smoke meant the entire audience smoked a pack of cigarettes that evening, and we Americans, grown used to the now prevalent smoke free zones all over our country were a bit queasy.
Wisps of smoke still lingering in the stage lights, her eyes became sharp and Dorothy replied something to the effect of:
It's what the playwright wrote. Hester [the character] is trying to fill the hole she feels inside with smoke. If I’m not willing to do what is required, I don't accept the role.
Her abrupt answer to this question had a profound impact on my consciousness:
To ascertain what a job requires... what a relationship requires... what saying yes requires...
and to dispassionately acknowledge my own willingness...
This simple notion was a gauntlet thrown down before me, and I couldn't forget I'd heard it.
Through the years, it's become a way I check myself, so that I'm not forcing my will instead of practicing awareness for what is required in any given moment.
To take action not from a personal stance or generalized way something is or ought to be, but from the serene awareness of reality.
Through dedicated practice, the idea developed into something we now refer to in our workshops as a third space – a space between us that is neither you nor I.
It is not compromise. It is not binary. It is not anything either of us could come up with on our own.
It is a leaning in towards one another with curiosity about what might be possible, what can only be, given our unique alchemy and everything that is in this moment of now...
This third space requires full and unfettered authentic voices, equality, and a listening to instead of a listening for...
It's amazing to me how a stranger's words spoken in a moment can change a life forever.
always in motion,