Thursday, May 1, 2014

Journey On

The blog has been quiet again - too quiet.

All I can say is that I'm trying to figure some things out.  Plan. Adjust. Move forward.  And it's left precious little time for reflection. If there's anything I need to do to maintain my empathy and humanity, it's reflection.

I'm a goer.  A doer.  Or I was.

And then we spent a year and a half on a ranch in Wyoming and everything changed.

I learned that I don't want to spend my life going Mach 10 with my hair on fire anymore.  These days time seems to be flying by on its own so fast that I'm afraid to wake up tomorrow because I might be 90 and have missed it.

It. That elusive "it".  Life? The journey?

I had a great conversation with an old college friend last week, he was in town performing with a National Tour, and I managed to snag him for a long overdue breakfast, eight years after graduation.  We were both "doers" in our class - there was no way we were going to get sidetracked, we were going to make it and get shit done. (Excuse my French).  We both graduated and worked our butts off.  He went to grad school, and I eventually landed back home in LA, where I worked and struggled until suddenly I met Jason, got married and moved to Wyoming.

Looking back on the last eight years, our time in Wyoming (and the winter in between our seasons there), is the absolute best of my memories.  Even though I worked harder than I ever have in my life.  Even though sometimes I was unbearably lonely and felt a bit lost.  The isolation up there - just me and Jason against it all - provided me with a lot of time for reflection.  And it was in that time that I had the lightbulb - I am NOT what I DO.  It is a part of me, but not the whole package, and I am selling myself short by trading only on what I do.

So yes - I am an actor, I am a teacher.  But I am also a bleeding heart, compassionate to a fault. I want to see and experience the entire world, to make each day count for something.  Now that I'm back in the rat race, it's easy to get swept back up in the "go, go, go".

Believe me - I consider myself fortunate that I am currently able to make my entire living in the arts that I love.  Even when some days suck.

So, back to that breakfast conversation...

This friend of mine is in a position that most actor friends I know would envy - he is on the Equity National Tour of a VERY famous and popular musical.  He knows that there are a million actors out there who would trade places with him in a heartbeat.  He only works 3 hours a day, or 6 on two show days, and the rest of the time he gets to explore the cities they find themselves in, or go to the gym, or sleep, or whatever his little heart wants.  Of course, this being my "doer" friend, he has in fingers in a million different projects to keep busy.

But the tradeoff is that he is not creatively fulfilled in any way. He does the show exactly as the actor before him and the one before that did it, with no freedom to create for himself. His creative fulfillment only comes from the side projects he has going.

To him, our life in Wyoming, and all the adventures that it allowed and have followed it sounds pretty awesome.

To me, his life on tour sounds pretty awesome.

The grass is always greener, right?

Which is why it's so important to have satisfying work in your life.  To value yourself for who you are and not what you do.

It's important to me to give back.  It's important that I have a creative outlet.  It's important that I take pride in what I do, but at the end of the day my value is not wrapped up in it.

Trying to divorce the vocation from the avocation is so tough.

We are a society that lives to work.  We work ourselves to the bone every day - for what?  For status?  Nice clothes, nice house, fancy car  - all things that are fleeting and do not contribute in any way to our true self value.  You can't take it with you.

So what CAN I take with me?  The satisfaction of a life well lived.  Of positively impacting as many lives as possible in whatever time I am given here.  Joy. Memories.

Too often moments of joy take back seat to the guilt that I should have done this, should have done that, I never accomplished this, I said I was going to become this.

I'm over it.  Done with it.  The career will come. That laundry can wait.  Let's go make a memory.

If I achieve those career dreams along the way, great! But at the end of it all, I won't beat myself up if it doesn't turn out the way I planned, because it was really all about the journey. I plan to keep living a damn good journey.

We're going to the Keys this weekend because we are young and alive and we CAN. Journey on.

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