Two days ago, I had what I would call a shitty day. Not that the whole day was like that mind you, but I’m the type of person who can call it that when one thing goes wrong. I was busy trying to organize a meeting this weekend over email with others, it was pissing cold, sleety rain outside; no school for Boo and no play date and that meant it was on me to keep him entertained. And the dog had to be walked. I did not want to walk the dog in sleet. I spend about an hour reading emails, online news and filling food requests for Boo. We had a potluck at the preschool that night and I had no idea of what I was bringing. Should I buy something or should I make cupcakes? No, I was on a diet. Hubby was going to have a long day. In truth, I was in the full grip of PMS and all I wanted was to curl up and read a book. With a pint of ice cream. That has not happened in 4 years during daylight hours. Boo wanted to play with me. His plaintive cry that he had no one to play with got to me and I kicked a Spiderman ball with him in the hallway. I’m fighting to be present with him, but most of the time I’m running a dialogue with myself in my head. And feeling guilty. So I announce we are going to the local drop in for gymnastics. That will get us out of the house. He loves to bounce on the trampoline and I get so sit on the spongy floor and stretch my aching body. A few hours later, it stops raining hard enough so we walk the dog and eventually get to Safeway.
I went from feeling perfectly happy to the world of hell in about 5 minutes. All it took was a phone call. Well, technically, two. Earlier, I had called a Buddhist friend to tell her that I had some great news and to call me back. I had just booked a gig on a new TV series AND a small role for 3 days on a film. I felt like the old me, the working actor me, the let’s celebrate and buy stuff me and then she called but I was just at the till and I would call her back. She’d be so happy for me! We went over to get a hot chocolate for Boo at the Starbucks in the store and then my agent phoned, I let it go to voicemail cause I was yet at another till and then I called the agent back. Apparently the offer had not been firm, so sorry, casting made a mistake, and there was the issue that I was booked for another project the day before my first shooting day of the film. You see, once you are officially booked, you essentially belong to that production and they reserve the right to change your shoot day. So if one production changes their schedule….well, there could be a conflict it the two days are too close together. I was once booked on a production and then they wrote my part out. I still got paid because it was an official deal, but still I would have loved to work. I said to my agent, oh, well, what can I do and she said she’d let me know how things went the next day.
Bam, my world was shit. This is why I tell her not to tell me if I’m on hold or if I’m on a short list, just call me when it’s official, I’ll worry about scheduling my life when I get the part. Her job is to get me a decent trailer and good money. I can’t tell you how many times I was on a short list and didn’t get the part and I would be disappointed. Hey, you know that thing you love to do and make money at it? You may get to do it, just wait a minute, no, sorry, never mind.
Boo has already consumed his hot chocolate by the time I get off the phone and is non-stop chatter all the way home. I yell at him, snap at him, to just be quiet!!!. I’m a grumbly, bumbly bear and by the time we get home, I apologize to him and tell him that I’m upset and angry and mummy’s so sorry. He turns those dark eyes at me and tells me that sometimes he gets angry too, it’s okay and gives me a massive hug. Now I’m a shitty mother.
Just last week, I attended a basic study meeting in our district. We talked about The Ten Worlds, a very important Buddhist concept.
- Humanity (tranquility)
- Heaven (rapture)
- Buddhahood (enlightenment, absolute happiness)
For example, picture a day in a life: getting up, having coffee, reading newspaper, ah life is good. (Humanity)
Heading out into traffic,ack! So busy, Lions Gate traffic is bad, you’re going to be late, person cuts you off, gives you the finger, you give it back, a bit of road rage (Anger)
At work, passed over again for promotion, boss is mean to you, work is dull, snap at assistant, give them unpleasant tasks (Animality)
Go out for coffee, see people who are attractive, despair that no one will date me, feel despondent I have no one (Hunger)
Go back to work – get fired, your car gets towed, etc. (Hell)
So you finally take the time to go back to school – get your Master’s (Learning & Realization), get a new job, feel confident and competent, realize getting fired was the best thing.
Do my best to help people without contempt or pity (Bodhisattva)
Buddhahood - enlightenment, employing wisdom, compassion, courage to help others attain absolute and lasting happiness
Please note that this is the Coles’ notes version. I’d be writing this for months if I were to go into further detail. In all the worlds, there is an up side and a down side. There’s nothing wrong with anger, for example, if you feel anger at the injustice in this world and it motivates you to do something positive.
Now the fact that I acted this all out in the meeting in under 7 minutes makes it all the more laughable that I actually went through it a week later in spectacular style. I called up a fellow member and proceeded to gnash my teeth and bemoan my fate because I felt completely upset and pissed off and undone. Not that at that point it was officially booked, but in my mind it was and I was just being positive and claiming it was mine anyway. I had just booked another part on a new TV series and was eager for more. Even though it was a small role, it was for 3 days on a feature film which would mean I could actually afford to go to Toronto without worrying about the hotel bill or sleeping on someone’s floor with my kid. All my insecurities flooded up, and somehow I had blown it all up into the I’m not worthy, when is it my turn, how come I don’t get the parts I want, I’m so fat that’s why, why didn’t I go on a diet last year, look I’m doing my practice and encouraging everyone else and studying so hard and now hubby is worried about his job and why don’t we have this, why don’t we have that, I just want to work and feel good about myself and it’s all so unfair and I’ve been busting my ass at these auditions, when is going to be my turn, if I can’t get the role I want how about something that will just pay my bills, ohmigod this is why I started to chant because I so sick of putting myself on an emotional rollercoaster about a crazy ass business that does not give a crap about me……you get the point. The kid is now all up in my grill, I try to go into the office and close the door so I can talk in peace and quiet and he’s banging on the door as I seek the physical space to just be upset and feel sorry for myself for a moment. Hubby arrives unexpectedly home early and I am granted a reprieve. And then my friend said ” It’s a test, isn’t it. The eight winds and all that.”
And then the proverbial Buddhist penny drops. Ah, for fuck’s sakes. It’s not about the part, it’s about my life.
Worthy persons deserve to be called so because they are not carried away by the eight winds: prosperity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering, and pleasure. They are neither elated by prosperity nor grieved by decline. The heavenly gods will surely protect one who is unbending before the eight winds.
“The Eight Winds” (WND, 794)
Suddenly I’m off the ledge of doom and despair. The whole time I was more enamored about the amount of money I COULD be making because it was more than one day for a change. I know this business is crazy and really, the part could have been written out, the scheduling wasn’t firm yet, a hundred reasons that had NOTHING TO DO WITH ME could happen at any point. Even hubby reminded me that it wasn’t official that I WASN’T going to get the part, but people had to make sure that I was clearly available whenever they would need me. Here I was upset and miserable over a few lines that might never make it into the movie anyway! (Yes, that has happened to me before as well.)
Guess what the role was….wait for it………….FRUSTRATED MOM.
So instead of watching myself on an episode of Almost Human, knowing full well I would just criticize the way I looked and the way I acted, I sit down and watch a Buddhist study video. It was dry and boring, but it postponed the inevitable and perhaps, just perhaps I would learn something. The next day I wake up determined to have a better attitude and after I drop Boo off to preschool and walk the dog, I hurry over to chant with a few fellow practitioners. I had to just chant that I would not be swayed by the eight winds. I get a phone call about typing work. I’m fine with that. I set back out with my life condition just a smidgen higher.
Later that day I OFFICIALLY book the part. I am happy about that, but not overjoyed and all attached and crazy about it anymore. My life is bigger than a tiny role in a movie. I have a strong feeling that the next few weeks will be a test indeed.