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Submitted by edoardoballerini on Wed, 1/26/2011, 1:53pm
Two weeks have passed since I posted about my struggles with Right Speech, and while I certainly don’t expect things to change overnight, it has been shocking - shocking! - at just how deep the rot goes in me when it comes to words. I am noticing when it happens, which is good, but more often than not, the harmful words spring forth before the awareness kicks in, which is bad. What’s more, there seems to be an addictive nature to it. Once the words start flowing they demand more of them to follow.
Making matters worse is the work I’m doing right now. This is not intended to be an excuse, but for the past two months, I’ve been rehearsing and performing a piece of theater wherein I play an angry, violent man who stomps around swearing and waving guns in people’s faces. As a pacifist by nature, it takes some work to get into the right head space to do this seven times a week, and I’ve had to embark on a steady diet of heavy metal to propel me onto the stage before every show.
So swirling in my head and veins for a few hours a day are a mass of angry words (mostly) which take a long time to try to forget every night before finally going to sleep. But the residual effect of the speech lingers. I’ve noticed that I’ve started swearing in every day conversation more, even in inappropriate situations, as with total strangers. Yesterday, earbuds pumping some Guns ‘N Roses, I barked at a man on the street who asked me for some change. Welcome to the jungle indeed.
A year ago I gave a great deal of thought to Right Speech as it relates to my profession. Am I responsible for harmful speech when it is scripted? Certainly not, unless the intention is simply to do harm. Drama is, after all, conflict, illustrated verbally and visually. And in this current piece of theater, at least, the intention is to present a moment in time in order to reflect upon it, not simply to make the audience feel crappy, so I am comfortable with my speech on the stage. But I am carrying it with me beyond 42nd St, and it is having a profound effect. And as Right Speech happens to be my weakest link on the path, perhaps there’s a stronger connection between make-believe and reality than I’d anticipated.
One thing is for certain. My practice has given me such strength throughout this process that I am able to understand each day and each show and each word as a chance sharpen my skills, both artistically and spiritually. It may sound a touch masochistic, but I’m enormously grateful for feeling such intense discomfort around this issue just now. Onward, into the rotting words.
The practice deepens every night. And twice at matinees on weekends.
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