Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Morning

Yep- I said I would do a daily blog. That was three days ago. Way to follow through.

So here we are in Los Angeles on the day of the Golden Globes. Victoria and I are having some people over to watch them. I want to talk today about 'making it'. Two words, when put together, that make me recoil as if I've just taken in the aromas of a turkish wrestler's jockstrap.

So what is it to 'make it'? Well, I'm well-equipped to answer that question. I was one of the legions of actors that have made the journey to LA to make it. In the ensuing two-and-a-bit years that I've been here my idea of what that means has changed. The original conception caused me much suffering; the current (and I believe permanent) incarnation is healthy and brings me joy.

I came to LA to get fame and fortune. Bottom line. Yes, I loved to act, but if simply acting was enough I could have stayed in New York where I was acting all the time. No, Los Angeles to me meant Oscars and a villa in the hills. I jettisoned relationships that i had fostered over several years to be here. All for this idea of 'making it'.

A good friend of ours who is also an actress once said to me that everything changed for her when she realized a large part of the reason for her being an actress was 'getting picked'. Doing the actual part was fine but was not the central reason for her being at an audition. I fear that for most people who are slaves at the altar of making it, getting picked is at the core of their desire to 'succeed'.

Doing something solely for others' acceptance and approval causes suffering. This has been the gift of Los Angeles up until this point for me. I came here with a faulty paradigm- to be one of the 'chosen' people, the 'lucky' people. I felt completely on the outside looking in, something that was fortified by all the media we take in, the billboards, movies, TV shows and life on the street which repeats what we were taught in school: that you have to get ahead, get to the top, be and have more than your neighbour in order to feel good about yourself.

Things have changed in my world. At some point, reeling from despair, I decided to imagine how I might feel if I had 'made it'. I'm now winning awards, doing movie after movie, surrounded by friends and well-wishers, living in a mansion in the hills.

I knew at that point that I'd still be the same guy. With the same view of the world. All of the things I'd been chasing would lose their novelty value- and I'd be back to square one. Chasing fulfillment in things outside of myself.

I realized that this way of thinking and being wasn't functional. Forget happiness- this was simply a matter of feeling fulfilled, of feeling meaning in my life.

So I dropped it. Let that massive burden of 'making it' fall off my shoulders. My ambition did not wither as I feared it would. My desire to act and to be a creative person didn't shrink; it actually increased. My creative mind was able to fly, freed from this single-minded egoic goal.
If I did indeed find commercial success as an actor, it would come as a by-product of living fully every day, from joy and love for all the aspects of my life, not just the parts that seemed to bring me closer to an imagined nirvana.

Making it is cleaning the kitchen before you go to bed. Taking the time to wrap your arms around the person you love and feeling their heart. Staying home to work on an audition until it's beautiful so that you feel great about the experience regardless of whether or not you get the part. Enjoying great relationships with all kinds of people because it feels good, not because they might be able to help you get ahead.

So, tonight, with my partner who I love and several lovely friends, I will sit down and enjoy the first of many silly awards shows, events that I'd love to be a part of, involving people I will ruthlessly lampoon and who I look forward to working with. Because this is all a big dance, not to be taken too seriously, and anytime any of us want to get on the floor, all we have to do is stand up and start moving to the beat.

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