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I care very much about health. I am lucky; my parents put me in ballet when I was eight years old, introducing me to a way of life that both challenged me physically and fulfilled me emotionally. Soon, one didn’t come easily without the other. It’s still that way, and I have them to thank for it.
And though I am not sure the world needs one more article or blog post about the recent tragic passing of the great Robin Williams, his death is indicative of the fact that our health is not comprised solely of how we look, the numbers that appear when we step on the scale, the amount of accolades we have garnered, or how fast we can run.
Our health is the sum value of every single part of us. It’s what wholehearted living is all about: your body, mind, and spirit working towards the same goals. There is chaos and unbalance in our lives whenever one part of us–whether it’s physical, emotional/mental, or spiritual–betrays the goals we have and the values we nurture.
Many years ago, a good friend of mine reached out to me sobbing in the middle of the night. Being the genius and sensitive discerner that I am, I asked what was wrong.
“Are you hurt?”
She shook her head and kept crying.
“Is your family okay?”
She nodded this time, sobbing even harder.
Finally, she started talking and I pieced together what had brought her to this place. She has core values. She loves these values. She believes they are the right way to live and she has always strived to uphold them. Until recently, when she started betraying these values and shame set in. She still believed the values, and yet she was acting in a way that said she didn’t.
And subsequently life became chaotic.
This is not a matter of being good or bad, though, see? This is a matter of living wholeheartedly. Of living in balance. Being in sync with yourself. Meaning every part of you is in agreement and moving in the same direction. It’s a healthy picture of a person. It’s what’s available to each of us.
Another part of wholehearted living is community. Reaching out. My friend talked to me that night for as long as she needed. I loved her; I listened. By the end of that conversation, something changed. Not because she or I were able to actually erase the past or snap our fingers and give her an immediate solution, but because she is loved and knew it and sometime between finding her crumpled in the corner of a hotel room–more tears than dignity–and taking deep, trembling breaths before standing up and declaring that now she was at peace enough to sleep, at least–the fact that she is loved became the bottom line.
All this to say, it is very important to surround ourselves with people who care more about who we are than what we do. The pressure is real. To make money, to get the job, to fill your resume, to get the girl, to look good, to be good, to have a thousand things to say when people ask you that inevitable question: “So, what do you do?”
When is the last time someone asked you who you are?
If you crossed off the list of external things people can readily see when they look at you (an accountant, a performer, an instructor, etc), could you answer?
I remember in grade school, getting the assignment to write an essay on who I am. I was young enough to write out the whole thing in pencil, the letters big and awkwardly printed across lined paper. At that point, I had no job, earned no money, and had an unfortunate haircut that was a byproduct of allowing my brother to play barber with me one day. After he cut my bangs in a perfect diagonal line, my mom simply cut them all off (who needs the hassle of going to a salon when you have a perfectly good pair of scissors at home, anyway?), creating a short–albeit still tragically uneven–fringe on the top of my already too big forehead.
Good times, guys; good times.
But I had a lot to say about who I am. I wrote about loving my family, loving animals, and drawing, too. I didn’t know it, but I was writing about the connection to both people and creativity, which has turned out to be the two greatest needs in my life when it comes to feeling fulfilled and alive. I had a sense of self then, and it had nothing to do with what the world would call success.
You don’t need me to tell you that life can be hard. From time to time, people who have heard about some darker nights that I have walked through will reach out to me and ask how they get through their own dark night. I always tell them to surround themselves with kind, safe people who love them more than they need them. To be purposeful about hanging out with those who they never feel a need to impress. To let your personal life be vastly different from an interview or an audition. To realize that life is more than a facebook status in which a new job is announced; that it’s made up of pictures. All kinds of pictures–many that we would never post on Instagram.
This is not a DOWN WITH SOCIAL MEDIA! post (I am a fan of social media, actually–Instagram, especially, because FILTERS!). This is me telling you that you are way more than what you do and until you realize this, life will always be precarious, rising and falling with the awards, jobs, and notice you do or do not receive from others.
Live wholeheartedly. Be at one with yourself, your values, your goals. Create for yourself a community where you are loved for who you are, period. And from that place, you will end up doing so very much; you will end up impressing the world, whether you ever meant to or not, because a healthy, loved, balanced and wholehearted person is a breathtaking, beautiful sight, indeed.
Jessica Latshaw is a monthly contributor to The Broadway Warm-Up Blog. For more info on Jessica check out: www.jessicalatshawofficial.com
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