community · compassion · learning · levity





While waiting backstage last night for a long scene I’m not
in to finish, I leafed through an old book of opera history, the only book in
the room.
In it, are pages and pages of photos, and I was struck by
how similar everyone looked to today. Yep, there’re the same cheeckbones, facial
structure, haughty gaze we still see in others and starlets today. Some of the
photos were dated 1898.
Over a hundred years ago, people looked relatively the same.
They portrayed the same stories of love, hatred, betrayal, and sacrifice. And I
commented to the other actor who was also waiting backstage on how shockingly
similar we looked, and how our stories, our desires haven’t changed for tens of
thousands of years. Mythology and the Bible tell the same stories, and people probably looked
relatively similar too.
Sure, we might be a little more refined about it, not
sacrificing goats or children as often. Not slaying enemies in the street. But
for the most part, looking back through time, we’re the same people we were
thousands of years ago.
And my co-actor said something that struck me: Well, yeah,
because we have the same brains we’ve had for thousands of years.
For some reason, this made me pause, and things clicked into
place in my head. We’ve been retelling these stories through pictoral, oral,
and written history for eons. Homer wrote about the same passions and impulses
as Shakespeare as Langston Hughes as Brene Brown.
We’ve all been processing the same emotions for millennia.
There’s something kind of humbling and shocking about that realization. Perhaps
even a little bit disheartening! But mostly, I think, connecting.
It makes all humanity more relatable.
I remember reading a story of a therapist who was going to
be working with a group of Rwandan refugees. She was worried that she
wouldn’t know how to relate to them, how she would be able to talk to them
about what they’d been through because it was so alien to her experience.
What she found was charming: Her first client wanted
to talk about how the guy she had her eye on was hot for her cousin.
We all have the same impulses. We all have the same
chemistry and wiring, inhibitions and ambitions. Beyond the length of recorded
time, we’ve all been trying to make a go at this thing called life.
And I find that oddly comforting. 

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