Acting Love, Building Hope

How do you know if you love someone? When does it change from simply like to love? What does love feel like?

How do you know if you have hope inside of yourself? Are you a hopeful person? Am I a hopeful person? Are you born with it? (Maybe it’s Maybelline?)

(Hint: It’s not Maybelline.)

Love. I remember falling in love for the first time. Riddled with anxiety and excitement, I sat in my dorm room and debated on the merits of my ‘love’. The thought of her made me giddy, but if I’m in love, shouldn’t flowers be blossoming out of my ears? Shouldn’t I be dancing uncontrollably 24/7? Unable to sleep at night? A changed man? How could I know? How could I live with myself if I told this girl that I loved her and didn’t mean it! But if I did love her, she deserved to know. Love as a feeling can be a slippery grab.

Hope. I can find the dirt on anything. It’d be easy for me to look into a crystal ball and say, ‘Yeah, that’s a wonderful prophecy but is this ball really crystal? It’s probably quartzite. I’m wasting my time’. When something goes awry, I can be quick to see the impossibility of the solutions. Hopeless! It’s all hopeless.

It’s a rainy fall day in Portland, Oregon, actually. I’m in my studio apartment arguing with my then girlfriend. We’re stuck down a wormhole of negativity, and she is fighting bravely to keep optimism alive. My cynicism and pragmatism is digging it’s claws into her sides. We boil to a crescendo and I yell, ‘What’s the point! It’s lost! Why keep trying?!’ and with fervor and desperation she exclaims, ‘Because sometimes hope is all I have! …I have no desire to exist in a world with no hope’. What she said to me was a mirror shoved in my face. Was I really trashing hope?

How do we love? How do we hope? While not discrediting the value of feeling love and feeling hope, I am taken by the idea of love and hope the action. Love and hope in behavior. In action. As an actor, I am taught to do things, to act, and that feelings will happen as a byproduct of my actions.

I believe we can act our love. I believe we can cultivate our hope.

For my beautiful and wonderful girlfriend, Colleen, I send a morning message everyday. I send flowers. I make visits to her Minneapolis bungalow as often as I can. I try to show her my love. Act it. Which is easy because the love I feel for her is so powerful. It’s an urgent and sincere loop of adulation where action begets feeling begets action begets feeling… It’s a self-sustaining cycle that harbors such passion.

If you think you were born a hopeless person, a cynic, do not dismay. You can build hope within yourself. I promise you that.

Go out. Act love. Build hope. Keep trying.

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