Today, I awoke at 5am, my mind , a hustling, bustling shopping precinct of thoughts. I lay in bed fighting for breath, shaking like a leaf, attempting to recite lines for the part of Irish guard Michael Bowe in My Boy Jack, in which I am suffering from a debilitating condition called shellshock. Shellshock, was not recognized at the start of the war, but incapacitated men as their mental faculties became muddled like one of those little glass balls that you shake up until they are filled with flakes that look like snow.
I wrapped myself in a blanket and sat cross-legged in the space between the bed and the door, took a few deep breaths and quietened the mind attempting to explore the hardness in my belly. Fear of dying. Fear of living. Fear of letting go.
‘In our fear of death, what calls out first for examination is not death but fear itself. We need to explore this hardness in the belly that is so much a part of the armouring over the heart.’
I sat quietly listening to the rise and fall of the breath and gradually the hard edges began to soften and fall away.
I met Elloa for a cuppa at the local garden centre with the intention of chilling out before dress rehearsal. Unfortunately, she was having a bit of a wobbly day and threw a tantrum. My ego was immediately offended at this untimely outburst, especially since I had just discovered that I had only 104 days to live! I had arrived expecting an empathic response, the gentle sound of harps playing on the café radio, and angels hovering lovingly near the rose section in the garden centre. Instead, I was faced with a girlfriend whose head was spinning furiously at 365 degrees, and wanted to murder me! For a while my brain became muddled due to the sound of heavy enemy shelling in my ear. I had just discovered that Elloa is a doppelganger posing as a girlfriend and mighty companion, sent from another theatre company to sabotage the show and wreck the dress rehearsal!( A doppelganger is a is a tangible double of a living person that typically represents evil)
Shit! I could really have done without this inconvenience. How can I play the man whose brain has become scrambled eggs without the support of my beloved Elloa? Its only been half a day and I am well and truly fed up of dying. Maybe it would be kinder for everybody concerned if I just call the experiment off, at least until Ells head stops spinning and the snow settles in the glass ball.
Then, a small voice inside my head reassured me that everything was unfolding perfectly. Regardless of the size of the tantrum the little girl was crying out for help. I decided to lay down my arms and respond with kindness This created a safe space for both of us to explore our mistaken beliefs and with spirits help release them back to the nothingness from where they came, and in their place plant new thoughts, that are positive and loving.
‘ Only Love is strong because it is undivided' ACIM
That night at dress rehearsal I was able to embrace the vulnerable child within me and fuse the words of the character with real emotions. The strength of my performance centred around my willingness to hold the space for this broken man, reassuring him that regardless of the size of the problem only the love is real.