I have a friend who designs aerial sequences for a traveling musical.
She tells me that most of the cast’s highflying stunts are executed in the dark.
And so, the stage performers are masters of adaptation, which is a term ocular physiologists use for the ability of the human eye to adjust to various levels of darkness and light.
In fact, a critical part of their preparation includes daily routines of eye exercises to help protect and strengthen their vision.
After all, vision is a muscle just like anything else.
According to my friend, though, a cast member can only train their eyes so much. Good aerialists hit their marks because of superior vision, but also because of serious trust.
That’s the other big muscle at work.
Because when a cast member is soaring through the air, twenty feet above the stage, they not only must trust themselves, but also their fellow actors, their equipment, their audience, their crew, and of course, the universe.
It’s the vision of the heart. Trust means engaging your intangible muscles to see what you need to see, even in the dark.
Every profession has its own version of it. Young writers, for example, rarely get blocked because of their undersized talent, but because of their unripe temperament.
The creative process requires a level of trust that they’re not used to holding. And they haven’t put in enough hours at the page to be able to surrender to the process.
That’s the key distinction between somebody who’s been writing for five years and somebody who’s been writing for fifteen years. The veteran trusts her ability to sit down and respond to something. She trusts the totality of her own experience. She trusts that the words will be there when she needs them. She trusts that the forest of the imagination will provide. And she trusts that the person she already is will be enough to create what she wants.
That’s the vision of the heart. And whether you’re on stage or at the page, it’s guaranteed to help you fly.
But remember, it’s a muscle that can only be honed through daily practice. Through a dogged commitment to seek what is fresh, spontaneous and interesting in the same place you looked for it yesterday.
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That Guy with the Nametag
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