I think alot. Too much many people would say. I've always said, I wished I could turn my brain off. I usually feel like it's working at about 400 miles per minute. About lots of things: work, theatre, freinds, food, things I'm supposed to do, time-lines, goals, clothes, television, facebook, planning, shoes, parties, the weekend, my calendar, my next rehearsal, auditions, new material...ok everyone has the picture right?
This was the chief criticism I got in Acting school. "Stop thinking so much! Just do." I mean I really have the ability to get in my own way with all the carrying on in my head. Trying to please everyone. To get it right. It was stifling as a performer. It still can be some times. I spent a lot of time in school learning to turn my "actor brain" off so that I could just act. One of the most influencial things ever said to me on the subject was "Stop thinking, stop trying to interest us. You Mary-Elizabeth are one of the most interesting people I've ever met in real life. So just stop trying." It was flattering. And it did help. It gave me permission to just be myself. To just talk to other actors. To be simple and real. To create something that is truly my own. But it didn't actually solve the problem. It just reframed it in a way I could work with.
But it never really settled on me how unproductive the thinking can get until this weekend. That not only did it stifle my performing but also my being. A friend said to me this weekend (on a totally non-theatre related matter)"Think about it. But not too much, it's not productive" And for the first time something in my brain clicked off. OFF! It was amazing. Almost like I could feel it shutting down. And how liberating that felt! Everything felt very quiet. Emotions and visceral reactions began to check in calmly and take over. I have been able to spend a couple of days just "doing". No questions for myself, no pro-con list, no double thinking, or reconsideration.
I do have an appreciation for my capacity to think. It does come in handy. And there are times where I enjoy nothing more than planning, or debating, or brainstorming...all of which REQUIRE my super-sonic brain to be fully operational. But on a day to day basis and ESPECIALLY on stage, I think exploring this newly found off switch will bring about good changes. The hardest part will be to find the balance. And not being afraid to flip that off switch when I have to. But if I can utilize this newly found switch in the right way I feel like it has the potential to make me so much more open. More at ease. Less drama.
I know I won't be able to keep my brain "off" forever. Nor would I want to. But I am enjoying the time I have now, to learn how to operate with the quiet in my head. To simplify my thoughts and actions. To stay honest. To not worry so much about "have to" and "supposed to" and trying to please everyone. To just be me.