I recently heard an actor being interviewed about her process for getting into character.
She explained that she creates a history—in her own mind—for the character she needs to become.
The movie script points toward some history, of course. But this particular actress goes beyond that. She vividly imagines her character at various moments in her life. She mentally creates the lens through which her character views the world.
This “content blob” (my words, not hers) full of pivotal moments, personality traits, and insecurities is something the actress carries with her as she becomes the character she’s portraying. That content blob is the identity she steps into.
The actress’ process fascinated me. It makes perfect sense.
There literally is no identity—no character—without a content blob.
There is just presence. Label-free space.
This is true for our actress and it’s true for you and me. We aren’t “you” or “I”, “Amy”, “Bill”, or “Steve”, in the present moment.
Your character is thought-created, truly no different than a fictional character in a movie. Your identity is nothing but Thought carried through time.
It is the content blob you call “me”.
You identify with it and cling to it, but it’s no more real than any other thought. In fact, it’s so unreal that it dissolves the second your little mind quiets and you fall into the present moment.
Said another way, you must be living in your head to some degree—holding onto subjective (i.e., personal, made up) concepts and interpretation—to experience “me” and the history, memories, and shackles that identity entails.
Before all of that, you just Are. You simply exist.
“I can’t escape my thoughts about ‘me’”, you might be thinking.
We spend much of our lives in concepts and identities and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. But you aren’t stuck there. You find yourself “out of your mind” at times, in that peaceful place beyond ideas and labels. Falling into that space is the most natural thing in the world.
And when you are firmly planted in “I am me and here’s what that means”, that’s okay too. It’s helpful just to know where you are. You’re in a label, an idea, a content blob. Ideas, labels and content blobs aren’t stable. They aren’t truth. So you don’t have to take them so seriously.
You aren’t any more locked into a blob of subjective memories and traits than an actor is locked into the character they happening to be portraying. The moment the director yells “Cut!”—the moment you fall out of your mind—you come back to the real you again.