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Friday, September 2, 2011

A Lesson from my Grandfather

Learning is a process that is never complete. People are always susceptible to change and that change is inevitable. My hope is just to embrace it and attack it head on, whether successful or not.

I didn’t want this blog to be anything about my thoughts on what acting or theatre should be. My novelty within the entire scene deems those thoughts comical, to me especially. Although I do not consider them insignificant I know they will probably change by the time I am finished writing this blog.

Instead, I want to use this opportunity to share a few lessons that my experiences over the past year have reawakened.

My grandfather, Papa, is ninety years old. He has lived a life that I cannot even begin to fathom. He was a fighter pilot in WWII, was shot down twice (obviously survived), earned nine Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Air Medal with twenty gold stars, and countless other medals. He was the cofounder and president of a college, he married the love of his life, has six children, twenty-four grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren, and the list of achievements goes on.

The root of his successes are the relationships he has been able to build throughout his life. He has performed countless acts of generosity that he will never admit to. He treats everyone he meets with the same kindness and genuine interest. One of my earliest memories is going to Papa’s office and into the back door of one of the college kitchens. He would greet everyone from head chef to dishwasher by name and ask them about specific members of their families (unbeknownst to me he also had a habit of giving spontaneous bonuses to these same employees).

He had a tight knit group of over twelve very close friends. He and my grandmother, Nana, are the only surviving members. Sometimes it is hard to understand why these things happen but I think in this case I can offer an explanation. Throughout his life, and to this day, he has attacked every day with incredible zeal. He has managed to discover the perfect recipe for easy-going ambition. He breathes life and lives without regret. One of his favorite quotes, and one that he uses whether making good time to dinner or sinking a ten foot putt, is “Plan your work, work your plan”. While easy to say, this quote is not as easy to put into practice, though he would make it seem otherwise. When things work out for me and more often when they do not, I think of this quote.

It’s easy to lose track of things when going through the day-to-day grind. Having to meet new people on a weekly basis through my newfound theatre adventures has shown me once again that the smallest action or inaction, whether good or bad, affects someone else. Someone is always watching and listening. Understanding that people will be affected by words and deeds is crucial. It is not always possible to understand it completely but just thinking about it feels like a step in the right direction. It seems whenever I have been in an uncomfortable situation, or a situation that involves choosing words carefully, I try thinking to myself “what would Papa do”. This thought has helped me more than I know and I wish it would always come to mind.

In theatre it has become shockingly clear to me that it is essential to become comfortable with those around you. It is not easy. Embracing awkward moments and taking a risk, with the possibility of making that moment more awkward, is something for which I can thank Papa. He is the king when it comes to interrupting uncomfortable silences. Although I can’t pull off some of his jokes yet (server at a restaurant comes to the table and asks if he wants any dessert, he nods to Nana saying “I have my dessert right here”), it is a continuous learning process which I am currently enjoying.

Getting involved in so many new projects all at once (classes, plays, and other shows) has made me understand the importance of these lessons. “WWPD” finds itself in many aspects of my life and it has become even more apparent over the past year. I am so thankful for it. My point, if there is one, is not to try to influence anyone else but to express how grateful I am that these ideas have once again come to light.

Even if the only thing that is taken from this blog is that Patrick has an unnecessarily large family, I hope this can at least add another ingredient to the pot. For me, right now, I don’t know what kind of a product or result will come of these experiences and thoughts. Right now, I’m happy just enjoying the process.

**This post was written by Patrick Poulin who you can see as Julius in Dearly Beloved opening Friday September 9 running through September 17. Tickets: $11.50 online presale, $13.00 cash only at the door. www.brownpapertickets.com

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading this Patrick! Everything you said about Papa couldn't be more true! Good luck with the show.