I was raised on many riffs through the gospel song, This Little Light of Mine*. It came to mind as I read John Lahr's recent profile of Julianne Moore ("The Sphinx Next Door". The New Yorker, September 21, 2015.). In his essay he lifts a candle to shed the barest of light onto Moore's personality and artistic processes. Lahr details that Moore herself was the one who set limitations on what he could know; she is indeed shy of too much exposure as much of her work is internal and private, but she also doesn't want to ruin any of the wonder of it all for us. Paradoxically, Lahr reports that many of her coworkers and family members have a sense of Moore being particularly open, welcoming and awake to the world. This sense of balancing the flow between internal and external really resonates with me.
Lahr notes in several places Moore's need for organization and visual clarity in her physical spaces and routines. He writes "Moore is fond of quoting Flaubert's dictum Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work." The maintenance of sanity, children, and puppy are natural limitations for how clean I keep my home and what schedules I keep, but I also see a correlation to my ease in working with having my household in decent order. If that sounds like a healthy attitude, then be sure to read this: some days I'd like to go frickin' OCD all over this hellhole.
Physical control of my space and time aside, I think the balance of internal and external worlds also plays out in my relationships with people. I can easily see myself saying what Moore did to Lahr when he was watching her work: "I'm probably going to let you stay for, like, half an hour. I don't want you to get in my way. Because you will. You'll take up mental space, and I need to have focus." Blunt, eh? But, so perfect. I so desperately and deeply love people, and then, I want them to GO AWAY.
Does that make you feel left out? Gosh, do you think I even have any friends left now? How does this attitude fit into a healthy, intimate relationship? From my perspective Moore's husband captures it, and respects it perfectly; in fact so perfectly that this quote is currently topping my list of Most Romantic Things Ever Said. Here's Bart Freundlich describing a moment of falling in love with Moore when he still just her coworker and found her standing outside in the cold:
I came up to [Julianne] and stood with my back to the wind. I didn't want to put my arm around her, or smother her, because I didn't know her that well. Even though I couldn't have articulated it then, I understood that I could keep her warm up to a point. But then the rest was going to be for her to do. We connected in that moment on an unspoken level, where she knew I saw that flame in her, and understood it, and was willing not to suffocate it but to protect it.
If you're like me, when you're done fanning your face, adding that quote to your own list with the same hash tag, and wiping away adolescent-era tears of "Finally, someone gets me", think about how well Freundlich's attitude applies to treating anything we deeply love: our children; the products of our work; anything precious and needing a life of its own. If you're thinking what I'm thinking this would be an excellent time to reference Sting and his own ditty, "If Your Love Somebody Set Them Free". But I'll end with something less poetic: when we love best we let that little light shine!
*Is there anything more American than this little ditty celebrating self-righteousness and independence?! If you aren't familiar with it, and/or need to put a little Spring(stein) in your step today, let this version shine!