Zen and the Art of Losing Your Life

Katie Maureen Cropped

With my friend Maureen Jordan at Tuesday’s annual Oregon Food Bank benefit “Meals for Monologues” audition hosted by Cast Iron Studios (Grimm, Leverage)

 A Big Life: Encouraging Words for Those in the Entertainment Industry –

One snowy night when I was a college student, I met a smart, flirty guy who was an expert at Backgammon.  I had never played before. We sat by the fire as I dreamily moved my pieces across the board.

And I won.

Now this guy was a champion who had won tournaments. However much he may have liked me, he was a little frustrated. So we played again.  And I beat him three times in a row.

The practitioners of Zen call this kind of win a result of “Beginner’s Mind.”  When our minds are on other things–like winning–it’s hard to be at our best.

Of course, this kind of problem is no secret to any of us actors.  Most of us call this “stage fright”.  I call it the fear if I suck I will die.

These days things are a little different. I love auditioning.  I love being in the moment, of never knowing what will happen when I walk through that door and meet the casting people.   But in order to enjoy my auditions, the telling of the story has to matter more than “being an actress”. Telling the story IS what an actress IS. The identity or status of being an actress is not the same thing. That cannot matter. Only having fun telling the story matters.

A person can’t make things not matter by deciding “intellectually”. To be different, I had to work on positivity…to the point where I felt stupid and anti-intellectual. I stopped blaming people for my problems. I listened to positive speakers, smiled at strangers, tried to enjoy whatever came my way with friendships and jobs…but I also had to be willing to let it all go. I am worthy of love because God loves me, whether I have “stuff” or not, whether I’m young or old, ugly or pretty.

I am enough.

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