Sunday 22 August 2010


We took our little wonder to the playground at the beach this weekend. He climbed up the stairs to the slide, he had a go at 'climbing' the jungle gym, and he did the most astounding thing - he turned his back and walked away from us.

I was completely flabbergasted. How did he achieve this kind of independence? How in the world did this happen? It was wonderful and terrifying at the same time, and it got me thinking.

The dictionary says, independence is the state or quality of being independent; freedom from dependence; exemption from reliance on, or control by, others; direction of one's own affairs without interference.

For the little ones independence means growing, learning new skills, figuring things out for themselves or with a little help, making mistakes and learning from them, and it means letting go. It means letting go of their parent's hand and covering the distance by themselves, not caring if anyone is watching.

Have you ever noticed how small children, at least most of the time, are not fazed much by all of this?

So, why then is it so hard for us as adult people in general but also for actors more specifically to be independent? I don't mean financially independent. I don't even mean independent from other people. I mean being independent from fear. I mean exemption from reliance on, or control by, OURSELVES. I mean direction of our own affairs without interference by, well, US. When do we become such control freaks, watching over our every move, our every desire, our every emotion? Why do we make it so hard for ourselves to let go?

I am going to take a leaf out of my son's book. As an adult and particularly as an actor I am going to allow myself to grow, to make mistakes. I am going to learn new skills and figure things out, even if I have to ask for help. And bit by bit I will learn to let go of my own hand and cover the distance by myself, not watching, living the reality of the present moment lovingly.*

*Sister Shortall, Wellington, New Zealand

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