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Word of the Day: DISILLUSIONMENT

Every time I begin to think that I have grown sufficiently cynical and jaded to prevent any further heartbreak caused from the clash of high ideals with harsh reality, something invariably happens to prove me yet a romantic, quixotic fool with no real concept of life. At times like this I feel like disillusionment is to be my lot in life. I am fated to be continually disappointed by the world because I seem incapable of lowering my expectations.

I feel like I always look for the best in people and give them the benefit of the doubt. The problem with people is that when you extend that much confidence and trust to everybody, you are bound to be let down very often. Perhaps I'm shallow, but I always assume that people are being genuine with me and that what they are saying is what they really think. I must be arrogant, too, because I can't fathom anybody disliking or disrespecting me. It really boils down to an incredulity that anybody, especially people I barely know at all, would waste that much energy on me of all people!

And actors are the worst, it seems. Perhaps it should not come as a surprise that people skilled in being something they are not turn out to often be disingenuous. Not to mention petty, self-absorbed, hyper-critical, gossipy, and false - so very very false. Turns out this is something everybody has known all along about them, and I'm just figuring it out! I know it sounds hokey and bohemian, but I believe in the art of theater and of acting. I believe in the power of it to open minds, touch hearts, inspire, teach, and question. And I want to respect anybody who dedicates themselves to this art, because it is not easy. I want to respect them as fellow artists and rejoice in their success. I achieve this goal only part of the time, I mean I'm not perfect by any means, but I certainly hope I never give in to criticism to the point of undermining and disrespecting a fellow actor.

When I discover that many people I had worked with and known and befriended are not exactly what they seem, its enough to make me question the entire world of theater to which I plan to dedicate my life. Is this what everybody in this business is like? Is this what I'm going to have to deal with? Furthermore, am I, for all my self-righteous idealistic pratter, just the same? Don't I criticize, don't I gossip, aren't I the master of lies? Is theater really what I thought it was, or is it just a glorified ego-boost, a constant game of who gets the limelight, who gets the applause, who knows who and who's the best? And if thats all it really is at the core of it, is it really what I want to spend my life doing? And lets forget about theater for a moment – this is bigger than just this one slice of life. Isn't this how everybody really is? Don't people thrive in this world only by stepping on each other? Don't we live in an age where the economy and politics practically require this? There is no where I can go, nothing I can do where I will not have to face the fact that people, all of us, are cruel and stupid.

This kind of depression often follows my disillusionment. It is an incredibly personal sting, and I feel cut to the very quick. I question who to trust, and what to believe in. I wonder if happiness is an illusion. It is a period of time when nihilism, in all its seductive nothingness, dangles enticingly before my face as if to say, “Come on... Nothing is worth this. Nothing means anything, and everything you believed in was simply a delusion. Join me and expect nothing and you'll never be let down again. Not by your friends and loved ones. Not by yourself. Not by God. Not by anyone.”

But I don't listen. I can't. There is something inside of me, even in the dark times, that glows bright and hot and can't ever be put out no matter how many times my hopes are shattered. It is fed by the good that I have seen people do, by the power I have felt in art as a reflection of humanity, and by the unmistakable faith I possess that we are all connected, that we are all one. When I remember this light, I remember the madness in sanity, in seeing life only as it is and not as it could and should be. I rally once again my idealism around me as a buffer, as a beacon. People will always betray me, I know; and, more terrible still, I too will betray others. But I will love them and myself anyway. I will love us for what we could be, and not just for what we are. And I will not stop loving for fear of pain.

I know that this only means more inevitable disillusionment, disappointment, and depression. I know I will face this pain again, but I do not mind. I thank God for it, and I would not give it up for all the joy in the world. It is only through such pain, I think, that we can take this world of iron and make a world of gold...

Comments

The Bard said…
Upon reflection, I suppose I could have called this post "Word of the Day: DRAMATIC!"
Wow! I hope this entry isn't a reaction to something big and specific that happened. If so, I hope it's all better now. If not, well, I hope it's all better now. Life kinda sucks and I think that's why it's so good. It makes the good times worth having.

And there are people out there who are genuine.
Anonymous said…
And I think you do know a few of those genuine people, at least. Never doubt yourself either, Matt. Because if you doubt yourself, the rest of the world goes with it... and thats an awful lot to go. Say Jay
After our conversation today I came to my office and read this. I LOVED IT. Of course, I could be really phony right now. But I think you know me well enough to discern my compliments. Everything from our little conversation today is all right here. And I want to continue the dialogue.
too_intensified said…
Boy do I know how you feel. Nice articulation of such feelings. And I agree, we have to keep in mind those ideals, or how will we ever have hope that theatre, or society, or whatever can change? If we weren't idealistic, life would really boringly kind of suck all the time. Highs and lows are what we learn from, they're how we know we're LIVING.

And Matt, What Happened?!

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