Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm Sorry

T he inimitable words of Brenda Lee:

You tell me mistakes
Are part of being young
But that don't right
The wrong that's been done

She's right. You can't just blow off your mistakes and move on. The only way to right a wrong is to come clean, feel bad about it, and resolve to do better. That's the classic method by which Jews repent. I tossed and turned a good deal last night, thinking about my personal flaws and going over the litany of what I need to do to become a better person.

One main idea kept repeating itself for my examination: I need to stop using the baser side of myself to generate attention. This is the side that loves to have an audience, the side that likes to shock and force reactions. I need to stop letting that side of me just out and do its thing and be more reflective of my deeper values and upbringing.

I don't know why I'm such an attention-seeker. I don't know why I so enjoy being able to elicit a laugh, or why performing on a stage feeds me with adrenaline. But I do know that there is a good side and a bad side to every characteristic we own. I need to be more of a force for good and stop developing the coarser side of my need for attention. I'm a little disgusted with myself.

In the Stanislavski Method, the actor can work from within and from without. He can choose to work from without by changing his mannerisms and these actions will begin to work their way into his character until they are integrated in full. He can work from within, by delving into the mind of the character and trying to assume his personality.

In Judaism, it is much the same. We do both deeds and self-examination. In my case, I resolve to remove coarse language from my vocabulary and stop making the excuse that those words have impact that no clean language can convey.

My father, of blessed memory, used to say that people who use profanity have poor vocabularies. Maybe he was right. Maybe I could try to find good, strong, clean language that is just as powerful as the curse words I use with too much ease if I just stopped being lazy and exerted some efforts in that direction.

It's a challenge and a writing challenge at that. It's a place to improve. It's doable.

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