I recently had the following exchange with a writer friend of mine.
Writer: “I could never do what you do. I could never act. Definitely not on stage.”
Me: “Why not? I actually think you’d make a pretty good actor.”
Writer: “Nah. The whole time I’d be out there on stage, I’d be thinking how awful I was. This voice would be like, ‘You suck. That’s stupid. What are you even doing?’…It’d be paralyzing.”
Me: “Right. I understand.”
And I do. Understand.
Because that voice never goes away. It’s omnipresent and can be oppressive if not held in check. It’s what Michael Singer termed “the annoying roommate who won’t ever shut up” in his brilliant book, The Untethered Soul.
Maybe the reason to act then, to get up on stage, is all in the attempt. The attempt to be fully present. The attempt to be so committed to the story, your character, the given circumstances, and most importantly, what you desperately need and want from the other person, that for those two hours…
…you don’t hear the voice at all.