Spiritual Cinema Circle

Dr. Barnsely Brown

Are you happy?
Please note that I'm not asking if you FEEL happy. I'm asking if you ARE happy. Happiness does not have to be a fleeting emotion that we feel when everything's coming up roses. Instead, it is something you can have, right now, no matter what's going on in your life.

Happiness is a founding value of our culture. Remember that oft-quoted phrase in the Declaration of Independence? Our founding fathers asserted we have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." However, so often we let life carry us along without examining whether or not we are truly happy, healthy, and ENJOYING the way we are living! We can be so involved in survival that we forget about revival--about recreating our lives in a way that will fulfill us.

It takes courage to look at your life honestly and to (re)evaluate it, making necessary changes for your health and happiness. Four years ago, I nearly died of an anaphylactic reaction and spent a long week in the hospital followed by several months of recovery time; this experience was a huge turning point for me. I felt that I'd been given the opportunity to "hang out" a little longer on this earth to accomplish my mission. As a result, I drastically changed my diet, my attitude, my friends, my family dynamic, and even my marital status. That life-threatening experience forced me to look at what I needed to release and reshape in my life to be truly happy and fulfilled.


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Living Your Life As If You Had Cancer

What if you  knew you were going to die?  Yes, I know that we are all going to die eventually, but what if you knew you would die in 18 months?  What would you do?  How would you change your life?

There's a new series on Showtime called The Big C.  I have found myself fascinated with the life of Cathy Jameson, who has been diagnosis with melanoma cancer and given 18 months to live.  It's like a door has swung open and she's no longer afraid to walk through it.  The cancer has given her back her life, if only for a limited engagement.  To quote Cathy Jameson, "I'll be appearing on stage 4... all year".  Cathy has stage 4 cancer.

We are so wrapped up in our daily routines that we miss out on living life.  Our families, jobs and responsibilities alter our perception of who and what we are.  We are continually being placed in boxes, labeled with other people's expectations of who or what we should be.

What if we could stop all the noise around us and simply breathe?  What if we could strip ouselves of  the labels and expectations that are smothering and altering our personalities? Could you handle the criticism?  The disappointment your actions would impose upon others for honoring yourself instead of them? Are you brave enough to let the balls you are juggling hit the ground? 

Close your eyes and imagine yourself juggling those balls; one is work, one is family, one is your job, one is friends.... now stop.  Place your hands in your pocket and let the balls fall to the ground.  With your eyes closed, listen to the balls bouncing
erratically in all directions until there is nothing left but silence.  Slowly take a deep breath, then release it.   How do you feel?  Relieved? Sadden? Fearful?

Change doesn't come easy for most of us.  Our routines give us a sense of security.  Our goals give us a steadfast course to travel, making us feel we are in control of our destiny.  But we're not in control of anything.  Life can change on a dime and there is nothing we can do about it.

Ask the millions who have found themselves out of a job, loosing their homes and facing financial devastation... or with terminal cancer.  That sense of security and purpose disappears quickly when our lives as we know them, vanish in to thin air.

I love the idea of a do-0ver.  A second chance to right our wrongs, reinvent ourselves, begin life renewed and refreshed.  Most of us are so tired we can barely function.  Our dreams and aspirations have been replaced by responsibilities and demands levied by other people, or by ourselves, to reach goals we believe will fulfil and enhance our lives.  But will those goals leave us feeling fulfilled or empty at the end?

We need to view change (whether by choice or forced upon us) as an opportunity to rebuild our lives for the better.  There are losses to suffer, but there are rewards for perserverance.   I don't recommend dropping all the balls you are juggling at once, total devastation is guaranteed with that action.  But slowly start removing the balls that cause you the most discord, replacing them with balls that make you happy.

Happiness. When was the last time you really felt happy?  That should be the goal we work towards.  To be utterly and completely happy.  If what you are doing in life doesn't fill you with happiness, then find something that does.  Live your life as if were a limited engagement that could be canceled at a moments notice.  Because the truth is... no matter how great the performance may be, the curtain always closes.


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Laura Linney was born in New York City on February 5, 1964, into a theatre family. Her father is the prominent playwright Romulus Linney. Although she did not live in her father's house (her parents having divorced when she was an infant), Linney's world revolved, in part, around his profession from the earliest age

She graduated from Brown University in 1986 and studied acting at Julliard and the Arts Theatre School in Moscow and, thereafter, embarked on a career on the
Broadway stage receiving favorable notices for her work in such plays as "Hedda Gabler" and "Six Degrees of Separation".

Linney's film career began in the early 1990s with small roles in
Lorenzo's Oil (1992) and Dave (1993). She landed the role of Mary Anne Singleton in the PBS film adaptations of Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City" series, playing her in "Tales of the City" (1993), "More Tales of the City" (1998) and "Further Tales of the City" (2001). Linney's first substantial big-screen role was as the ex-girlfriend of Richard Gere's character in Primal Fear (1996) and her superb performance brought her praise and a better selection of roles. Clint Eastwood chose Linney to play his daughter, another prominent role, in 1997's Absolute Power (1997), followed by another second billing in the following year's The Truman Show (1998).

Always a strong performer, Linney truly came into her own after 2000, starting the decade auspiciously with her widely-praised, arguably flawless performance in
You Can Count on Me (2000). She found herself nominated for an Academy Award for this, her first lead role, for which her salary had been $10,000. Linney won numerous critics' awards for her role as Sammy, a single mother whose life is complicated by a new boss and the arrival in town of her aimless brother. On the heels of this success came her marvelous turn as Bertha Dorset in The House of Mirth (2000), clearly the best performance in a film of strong performances. Since then, Linney has frequently been offered challenging dramatic roles, and always rises to the occasion, such as in Mystic River (2003), in which she worked again with Clint Eastwood, and Kinsey (2004), for which she received another Academy Award nomination.


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