Ambivalent Asymmetry

My Symphony: The Zookeeper’s Boy by Mew

Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate.
–  Sigmund Freud

Being human comes with the capability of experiencing a myriad of emotions at any given time. More often than not, we all try to neglect or even escape whatever it is that we are actually feeling. We divert our attention to things that are unreal in order for us to spare ourselves the bittersweet reality. I should know; it’s what I’ve been doing for the past eighteen years of my life. However, this Love and Hate project brought me to a different place, with a different perspective and with a clearer understanding of the very depth of my own emotions.

I’ve given a lot of thought on my Hate project way more than I have on my Love project. I literally spent almost a day just thinking of what it is that I really hate. After hours and hours of deliberately over-analyzing the awful things that happened to me in the past, I finally came to a decision, and that is to talk about how I was psychologically bullied by a bunch of girls and how I was betrayed by somebody I treated like my own brother. Talking about such a terrible event that happened to me in high school in front of thirteen people seemed to be fairly easy; except that it’s not. I have worked so hard to forget those horrible people in my life and to move on with as much positivity as possible. And then there came the day when I had to actually look back at what was and really consciously let myself feel the same kind of hate that I felt towards those people more than four years ago. After I shared my hate story to the class, I was really angry at those people again. It’s like all of the emotions and pain that I thought I threw away a long time ago never really went outside of me on the first place. Because of the Hate project, I learned that I’ve always been mad at a lot of people, and that I’ve always been carrying this hatred in my heart since day one. I guess I was just scared of how destructive hate can be. But I no longer feel that way. I think that hate is a beautiful thing. This is a probably such an odd thing to say considering the fact that hatred and beauty are two very opposite concepts by definition, but after I articulated my anger and after I kicked and stomped on those mats, I discovered what’s beneath that hatred and condemnation.

Sure, I still hate those people. But quite frankly, I can no longer remember why and when I started being cold to them and to the world. It’s almost like the reason is no longer there but the effect remains iridescent. I mean sometimes we hate people, and we despise them like there’s no tomorrow. But a day comes when we begin to forget why we’re mad on the first place. And this is where the wake-up call kicks in. The day we forget the reason why we are mad at somebody is the day we realize that we were never really mad to begin with; that underneath that hate is actually sadness. We are sad because things didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to, because our expectations outshined the outcome, and because as we grow up, we acquire the sufficient knowledge and wisdom that enable us to understand that life is an almost never-ending scope of closing cycles. And we don’t want that. No one wants that. No one wants that kind of life where he has to deal with the fact that good things always come to an end and that shit happens all the time. But it’s neither a good nor a bad thing. It’s just the way life is. And that’s what the Hate project ultimately taught me: the complexity of human emotion and how it is often inter-related to another set of emotions that we didn’t really know were there all along; love, for instance.

When I did my Love project, it was very surprising that it almost felt no different from when I did my Hate project. I talked about my mom this time. She really is the person I love the most in this world, and I didn’t really expect that talking about my wonderful experiences with her would bring out other emotions like fear, depression and even hate. I started out talking with such a happy voice, but I practically began to lose that faked jolliness as I let my story progress. I even choked my words for a bit. There was a tightness in my throat while I was imagining my mom standing right in front of me as I’m telling her “I love you”. The same thing happened to me in my Hate project. There also was a sort of lump in my throat when I said “I hate you”. It’s really weird, but it’s also incredibly astounding. I do not know what it’s like with other people but in my case, love and hate both boil down to this one thing that never seems to go away—sadness. Because of this one emotion, I discovered that hate and love are actually related in so many ways. It is really true that we hate because we love. In the same sense, we love because we hate. Either way, there will always be sadness underneath those two extreme emotions. This takes me to the bottom line of all of this.

Since I was young up until now that I am living barely the last two years of my teenage life, I have been taking life experiences in very large doses, both consciously and subconsciously. With those life experiences come the parade of events that either made me or broke me. Either constructed or destroyed, I learned something from each of those events that have shaped me into who and what I am now. That shape is defined by the mistakes I’ve corrected and by the lessons I’ve learned the hard way. And all of those laughter, grief, sorrow, pain, frustrations, failure, success, love, friendships, betrayals, anxiety and anger were worth it, because at the end of the day, what makes me human is my capacity to feel. As a human, I am allowed to feel whatever it is that I am supposed to feel. As an actor, it is also crucial to have access to a lot of emotions, and the only way to do that is to dig deeper into your own self. No one else can feel your emotions for you but you. We are all responsible of unlocking those memories and those experiences that make us feel more, which eventually enable us to do more… act more.

Now that I have gone through the Love and Hate project, a more substantial explanation of David Mamet’s definition of acting is set right before my eyes. As an actor, I do not have to be somebody else to feel something I don’t feel like feeling at the moment. I don’t even have to fake emotions. Ultimately, it’s about taking into account my own experience as a human being, and just letting myself remember, reflect and reverberate.

Acting is living truthfully in imaginary circumstances.” – David Mamet

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