Lillian Gish: The Trying Is The Lesson

Lillian Gish in Durango, Mexico, for the shooting of John Huston's The Unforgiven (1959).
 ©Inge Morath Foundation

Lillian Gish
East 57th Street
New York City

Allow limitation to be a teacher--not a stopping point. None of us can do everything, or even most of the things we'd like to do, but we must try. The trying is the lesson. We learn so much. We find out what must be cut away or retained. We become what my mother would call refined people, in the truest sense of the word: Cutting away or reducing all but that which is necessary.

The best teachers tell us why we aren't doing well--they don't just tell us we're bad or inept or too ambitious. I always want to know why I didn't do well, so I can fix the problem, or at least know why I am abandoning the task.

Faith comes from doing; from repetition. Whether it is the faith we have in God or in our friends or in the theatre or in film or in humanity, it builds and becomes a habit only if we try each day to allow it to grow. We have to keep working--as actors, as friends, as people. We have to get out and move around and be available. I am never disappointed in the task of building my faith. Never. Primarily because I will not allow it. It is a form of suicide to lose hope, to throw away one's faith.

I don't have time for that. No one should.

The answer to almost any problem or any sense of doubt or sadness is to get out and move around and give and notice and honor. It has always worked for me. It will work forever, I think.


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