Teacher and Student
“It so grieves me to lose good friends. Departure should not be reason enough for a relationship to end. When there is mutual respect, and those in a relationship thrive on helping and stimulating the other to grow to endless horizons, then why should we accept departure?
I have decided not to accept announcements of any of my treasury as being depleted. I will hoard the substance of what I was given or have gained by being in the presence of a valued nurturer. If a man allowed tenderness, stimulated my smile, or shared with me their discomfort over the human condition, then that man will forever remain as a mainstay of my life’s fortune.
Therefore, if my practice becomes yours, I shall live forever. I will never lose a friend. I will share what I was given, and nurture when it is allowed.
I will remain a teacher.”
November 6, 2002
I have devoted most of my life in joyous pursuit of practical ways to convey verbal communication. Mine has been cultivation. I was not born with some form of God given directing skills. Seventy-five percent of my intellectual cultivation was stimulated in abundance, by an early environment, featuring the music, the food, the lore, the languages, the strengths, the weaknesses, and mostly the pride of accomplishment most eastern Europeans, brought with them as immigrants from the old world to the United States of America. Even the way they said it was an inspiration to this young and impressionable kid.
My grandmother on my father’s side was multilingual. She helped to support her nine children by earning money as an interpreter and letter writer. On the days I would visit as a kid, skipping along at my dad’s side, I was always curious about what language Grandma Ethel was speaking, or how she was able to read the funny looking writing. What stood out the most: She was in charge. She was the strongest woman I have ever met. Without ever raising her voice, each of her children, grandchildren, and later on, all of their wives became recipients of grandma’s communication skills. Whatever the language, the words were few; the meaning exact.
Note: Each of my father’s brothers and sisters were multilingual, but in her home Grandma Ethel insisted they speak English. None of them had any hint of a dialect.
Teaching and being taught began early. Testing and being tested was a constant.
While I may not have been cognizant of it as a young child, I ultimately became aware, and have remained ever the inquisitor. Each and every day of my life has been, and will continue to be a vital part of my learning experience.
For me, learning is an entertainment! I’m not talking about studying for a test. I’m referring to the actual elation that comes over me when something new is added to my intellectual collection. At the top of my list is vocabulary. No matter how much I read, I’m always amazed over how much more there is to learn.
But it isn’t just the words.
I live with a constant flow of messages coming in from the looks, the smells, the sounds, the acknowledgements, and the supposed motivations behind them. All are part and parcel of my quest for continual learning (and entertainment).
If my words are sounding like they are driven spiritually, you’re on the right track. Not from my beginnings, but as a cultivation of my years spent in a total learning process. It appears my greatest discovery has been the growth that comes with an ability to feel. Feeling is part of the learning, providing an unequaled satisfaction. It’s hard to explain.
Knowing is magical. I never take it for granted. As if given a gift, I open the pages of a book and the spirituality begins to take hold.
When I was younger, I truly didn’t comprehend what was happening to me. As I grew older, I was not only cognizant of my transitions, but I sought them out on a continual and relentless quest. From others I discovered self. From my inner-self came my sensitivity as a director.
Certainly, listening is synonymous with learning. I didn’t invent the theory. In my work, I practice it with verve.
Through the years many of the actors have caught on to my methodology. On a regular basis a variety of trivia, stirred by the inquisitive minds of creative people, is presented to me. While my studio runs meticulously on time, we’ve been known to occasionally fall behind when, without warning, a new learning experience presents itself. Our conversations are rich and filled with intellect, temperament, and most of all, the magic of laughter.
Actors in general, contrary to the beliefs of the average man, are a special group of extremely bright people. Only when actors become mired in the dark areas of political venues, do they lose all of their charm. This journal, by design, intends to stay as far from politics as possible. I will not, however, stray from who I am, and who I have become because of what this great country has offered and afforded me.
Mine is not an uncommon story. From immigrant grandparents, and a mother and father who also entered this country following an arduous boat ride, I have been allowed what only the United States of America could provide.
Stop and think. I make a living in a creative world. I work almost entirely in the field of my choice. To say I feel blessed would not be putting into words the enormity of my appreciation for what life has allowed me to pursue.
But of all the blessings I have received, none can compare with the shear elation of knowing, what I have done, as part of my life’s work, has enabled and stimulated the growth of others.
What follows is “Emergence” by Harvey Kalmenson: