“You should always leave a place better than when you found it.” In the fuzzy part of my memory I can hear my mom saying this, but I can’t recall where we were or what the situation was. Cleaning out a college apartment or leaving a hotel on vacation – I’m really not sure. I think she said it more than once throughout my childhood and adult life.
Whatever the situation was, it sunk in. As an actor I was constantly changing my environment. I’d be at one theatre for a couple of months and then off to do another show at the next. The theatres would house the company in hotels, houses, or condos and while some were simply beautiful others were the pits. But you made due with what you had and always on my exit I would try and leave the place better than I found it.
But this involved more than the environment. It’s easy as an adult to pick up after yourself, clean out the sink in the bathroom and hit the road. If you really want to have a positive impact on your departure you had to leave the people better than you found them as well.
Every situation, no matter what the activity is, involves some sort of service. Though I am positive most of my actor friends do not realize it, theatre is a service job. You are hired to serve an audience. To make them laugh or cry. Tell them a story. Help them to escape for a small portion of time from their everyday life. It’s easy as an actor to get caught up in, “my performance,” or, “what they think of me,” but it really has nothing to do with that in the end. You are there to serve.
But we all are. Whatever a person’s given talents are, they are to be used. They were given to you to serve and heal the world. If we go through the day with the thought, “How may I serve,” each encounter with another is lifted to a higher level. The universe will start to use you and your gifts in such a way that every moment of your life will forever be changed.
When this thought process became my natural state of moving through my day things started to shift. I was being pulled in a new direction. The training I had as an actor made the transition to Bikram Yoga Instructor almost too easy. I was used to being up in front of others, speaking clearly, cracking a joke or two, and understanding what each body needed to do to flow easily through the “choreography” of the postures.
I remember saying to a friend right before going to training that I felt I was almost cheating. As an actor and in other professions as well, you are taught there are dues to pay and struggles to endure in order to finally have the life you’ve always dreamed of. This transition to yoga teacher seemed effortless. Her reply to me was, “Maybe life isn’t supposed to be hard.”
This blew my mind and I ponder it often. Maybe if you really go with the flow and trust that if you are just there to serve others and use your talents to the best of your ability there is no conflict and the universe will show you exactly how it wants you to serve and love those around you.
So my wish for everyone is to find a way to leave a place, person, or situation better than the way in which you found them, because that can only lead to living a simply fantastic life.