I'll Never Write a Novel

The Memoir of a Personal Essayist OR Confessions of a Theatre Widow

Friday, April 21, 2006

Something to Believe In

Next time you are watching a movie or a TV show, remember the term “Suspension of Disbelief.” That’s the term that writers, directors and producers give to the necessary relationship between viewer and program that allows a car to blow-up without the guy standing next to it getting even a scratch, or the fact that a problem can be introduced, dealt with and solved in 22 minutes. None of these things can happen in real life, so you have to stop yourself from saying, “That could never happen,” in order to embrace the story.

Life sometimes hands us situations that require a similar response. Some might simply call it “belief.” Many call it “faith.” In any case, it seems to me that the power to believe in something or someone is the greatest power we have. It is a human power that actually can cause a transformation in what we empower. In a stage play, believing that the set is really a living room or a forest makes it so. And, more importantly, believing that someone can do or be something actually gives them the capacity to make it so. Unbelievable? Not so much.

Growing up Catholic, I learned that at the Great Amen, transubstantiation occurred. Amen roughly translates to the phrase, “I believe.” It is an incredibly powerful word through all Christian faiths. In transubstantiation, Catholics believe that ordinary bread and wine become the real physical presence of the Lord. And it is a real transformation that happens when we believe. It is the ultimate fulfillment of faith. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that it is this foundation in faith that shapes everything I do.

In my job as a talent agent I cannot count how many times I am asked the question, “Do you think I have what it takes to ‘make it?’” Of late I realized that what they really seem to be asking is, “Do you believe in me?” That’s a powerful question to be asked regularly. I don’t have any kids yet, but I imagine that a parent is asked that in a million ways, quietly and out-loud every day. For me, it is an odd experience that strangers are hopeful that I will believe in them. Odder yet, when I do believe in people, it can have the capacity to shape their life. One actress I work with, for instance, had never done any sort of film work before and had only worked in theatre. She didn’t think that she could just make the leap, but I told her she could, and that she should. She subsequently booked just about every audition she went on. After booking a pretty high-profile job, that will be taking her to LA this winter, she called and said, “Thank you for believing in me.” I hung up the phone and cried. If in my life I am never blessed to hear those words again that will still be enough. I touched someone’s life for the better because I believed in her. Unbelievable? For me, it was.

This is not to say that I am one truly special person. Quite the contrary, I would like to submit to you that we all have this little bit of “miracle” within us. Whether you just listen to the story of the guy next to you on the bus one day, or take a child under your wing as a mentor, you can transform the lives of others. It is the “Great Amen” of life. Letting others know that we believe in them, in big and small ways, is one of the few ways that an individual can actually transform the world for the better. It is how we are called to bless others, so to speak.

I am who I am because others have believed in me. That transformation made me know myself and believe that I could accomplish the extraordinary. Once upon a time, I would never have thought that I would have had anything valuable to put into print. But, here I am writing an article, speaking my mind, and sharing my belief, because someone told me once that my voice was worth hearing. Maybe yours is, too.

Unbelievable? Absolutely not.

3 Comments:

Blogger Jenny said...

That was beautiful, Noreen.

I am now taking credit for getting you to blog. I rule.

4:41 PM  
Blogger noreen said...

Jenny, I am thrilled to give credit where credit is due! You do rule.

4:47 PM  
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