As children, we forge our identities based on the rewards given for “right” actions and trying to avoid the punishments exacted for “wrong.” We see our peers rewarded for certain behavior and others penalized, and in order to conform, we begin to align with those actions, those paradigms (belief systems) that squash our uniqueness, encouraging us to assimilate. Our formative years become about fitting in. “If I do this, I know I’ll be rewarded. If I do this, I’ll be made fun of.”
As the left-brain is strengthened, we lose the emphasis in the right brain to create, explore, play and be spontaneous and instinctual. The more adventurous part – the seeker, the explorer – atrophies. We’re told,“Boys don’t cry,” or “Girls shouldn’t be loud or aggressive,” or “Stop doing that, you’re not a baby anymore.” Remember these: “Fag. Sissy. Loser. Fatso. Brace-face. Trash. Whore. Slut. Retard. Zit-head. Hick. Trailer Park. Dog-face.” Well, our left-brain does. And it stores all of it. Only to revisit high school in our heads over and over again.
Remember when you received an “F” in elementary school for coloring outside the lines in your coloring book? Insanity! As people, as artists, we need to – we must – color wherever we want. Be a non-conformist. Color the sky green and the sea brown. Add polka dots and stripes and ignore the lines. Your own drawing is going to be better than trying to color in someone else’s “correctly.”
The art of living is recapturing this child-like creativity and knowing we aren’t going to be punished for coloring outside the lines. All art is generated from what I believe is a transcendental place that taps into our eternal, ever youthful, ego-less selves. The word ‘transcendental’ means: beyond all concepts. Love doesn’t come from the left-brain. Nor does Passion. They’re not concepts.
We love, hope, empathize and feel passion, create and play from the right hemisphere of the brain. The left-brain interferes with us expressing that natural essence of who we are. By listening to that, to those hurtful words from high school – the “you cant-s” and “you should-s” and the “be normal-s” – by conforming, we shut out the possibility of miracles happening when we don’t live our lives fully from a place beyond the left-brain. Meaning – living now.
Let go of the conditioning of high school. You’ve graduated. You earned your stripes. No need to go back and revisit those lessons.
Bravely return to this creative play within you, without fear of being forever banished to the homeroom hell of high school.
Except from his book AT LEFT BRAIN TURN RIGHT .
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Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer/director/producer/teacher and Artistic Director of Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop – where the “right brain rules” – in Los Angeles and New York. He is endlessly inspired by his students’ fearless creativity and is tireless in discovering new ways to help us all get out of our own way a little bit more each day. He just finished writing/directing his first feature film, Birds of A Feather.
Twitter – @AnthonyMeindl