In The Moment
There is one phrase in the English language that was a cornerstone of my years as a theatre student; something that was repeated ad nauseam in acting classes, in the movement studio, and in countless late night rehearsals.
If you haven’t guessed (and I’m a little concerned if you haven’t), that phrase was “in the moment.” To be a good actor is to experience the reality of what’s happening to you in a particular scene, and to do so means being in the moment. It’s a simple concept, but – as Natalie Portman* is so kind to remind us – it’s much more difficult in execution.
Anyway, now that I have one of these here babies, the dorky actor in me has been struck by how she lives her ENTIRE LIFE in the moment. It’s pretty amazing. She can go from content to angry to ecstatic within a time frame of maybe ten seconds (and that’s being generous), which is pretty much what happens whenever I wipe her runny nose and then follow up by brushing my ponytail over her face, turning her FML shrieks into belly laughs quicker than I ever thought possible. But Sadie’s living-in-the-moment-ness is never more evident than in the morning, when she always and without fail wakes up as a happy, fuzzy-headed and rosy-cheeked bundle of smiles.
She’s not thinking about what lies ahead of her at daycare (spoiler alert: her 387th runny nose), she’s not dreading the newly-hated routine of getting dressed for the day, she’s not preoccupied with what happened yesterday or the day before. She’s rested, she’s safe, she’s in our arms being smothered with good-morning kisses. In this moment, life is perfect.
And GOD, how I wish I could do that – appreciate the zillions of perfect moments in my day. But I also wish I could have someone else feed me and change me and put me down for two naps a day, although that, coincidentally, is also some straight-up depressing rest home bullshit, so…you know. Maybe some of the baby stuff is best left to the babies.
I guess my point is that I want to strive to be more like Sadie when it comes to enjoying the times the three members of our little family are together. I tend to be the kind of person who is constantly OUT of the moment. If Brad tells me on Tuesday we need to take the car in for its yearly inspection on Saturday, my mind instantly begins calculating what time we need to leave the house, what roads we’re going to take, how much food I’ll need in the diaper bag, and how the entire endeavor will affect the time I had previously allotted for my weekly grocery shopping trip (which is YET ANOTHER exercise in my sick-minded over-planning). And I know I need to be that way, to an extent. I mean, shit, I have a baby, y’all. If I’m all up in the moment over here, things aren’t going to get DONE, and that just won’t work. And I don’t want to give the impression that Brad doesn’t contribute with the day-to-day grunt work and planning (because he most certainly does, and then some), it’s that I get so aggressively planny that I sometimes nudge him out of the process altogether (see: me constantly turning down his offers to do the grocery shopping because I cannot bring myself to relinquish control over that particular task). Basically, I want to dial back the thinking ahead a bit. If (GOD FORBID!) we leave the house for an hours-long outing with only one diaper in the diaper bag, I will not suddenly hear the clippity-clop of little hooves.
And see, for all my fretting and planning ahead and worrying, I STILL FUCKED UP AND FORGOT DIAPERS. What does that teach me? Uh, that I can’t win, pretty much, so I might as well loosen the fuck up, right?
I want to. I really want to. And I’m trying. Because as hard as being in the moment is – both on and off stage – when you manage to do it, it’s beyond amazing.
*Sorry, Star Wars and Garden State nerds, but I think she’s horrible. She was also dating a guy who lived in our apartment building when we lived in NYC, and Brad passed her once in the lobby. If it had been ME who had passed her, I’d probably like her, as it is my fickle custom to automatically like any famous person I see in the flesh, but because it was Brad doing the celebrity spotting,** I am still on the Portman hate train. Also, Brad once said she was cute, so now I’m obligated to dislike her. I don’t make the rules, people.
**Brad ALWAYS got all the good celebrity sightings: Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta, Parker Posey, Natalie-effing-Portman. And I only saw celebrities if I was with Brad: Alicia Silverstone, David Cross, Sarah Jessica Parker, Chris Noth. Once we saw Lauren Bacall coming out the stage door of a theatre. Cool! Except that when I asked her for her autograph, she snapped “I ONLY SIGN PLAYBILLS.”
To which Brad replied, “I wonder if she’d sign a can of Fancy Feast or an Arby’s melt.” HA!