Late night rolling in after my evening A Working Group acting class and obligatory after class food run. Takes me a while to wind down, like I’m not a little hyper anyway. So it’s late next morning, I’m sitting across the breakfast table from my husband, Larry Dowell, that I get to fill him in on the latest in my class. And I am running on with excitement.

I was so busy telling Larry about the class. Meisner technique, active listening, what the scenes the night before had been like and how Ammie Leonards killed it! She killed it! She got it! Master teacher Michael Costello had been teaching us Meisner, introducing active listening and active reacting for on-camera work. And, Ammie Leonards had got how to make the technique work. Tapped into her emotions, no holds barred and let it flow!

On and on I went, telling Larry yet again how pleased I am with the class and talked about how long I’d waited to learn this. And how for me, the night before the strong point that Michael Costello said that really hit home with me was, “Make an impact with your words.”

So, all the while Larry is sitting there patiently, across the table, listening to me. When I finally stop he quietly says, “Well, I had something happen.” He was so still and intent when he said it, I thought this could be anything. I’m waiting for it. I said, “Was it a dream? Something paranormal?”

Then Larry proceeds to calmly tell me his web hosting server had crashed. His entire access to his website, his business, his blog post, our publishing company is no more. We are both self-employed creatives. Our business lives run through our computer access. Larry can no longer see or respond to any of his emails and he’s right in the middle of a big web design job. Obviously, he’s frustrated, but he’s so quiet about it. Have I mentioned that he’s a calm person?

Once I get all the details, I say, “Gosh, I’m so sorry!” But, all the while I marvel that he could sit there so quietly across from me for so long and listen and listen to me run on and on about my acting class and Meisner technique while he’s got this really, really big problem. Talk about active listening!

If all my cyber world had broken, if all my business contact access and communications had shut down, the last thing I could do is sit there quietly. I would’ve been bouncing off the walls. I would’ve burst into the kitchen with “Oh, Hell, no! You’re not going to believe this! I can’t get access! I can’t get this…I can’t get that!” There would’ve been pounding on the table. And, finally, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” I’d be suffocating with panic and angst.

But no, Larry calmly gets up from the table and turns to go to his office upstairs. I watch him quietly walk away to begin the unending circus of impossible communication over the phone with a million calls to outsourced tech labor in India. Yet, again, I am impressed! Larry, a master at Meisner active listening and I had no idea. Amazing!  — By Martha Hannah

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