Sunday, August 22, 2010

Basic Bravery

Whatever there be of progress in life comes not through adaptation but through daring.

Henry Miller
I know an actor who is moderately well trained though lacking in certain bits of essential instruction. But he has talent. I have performed with him a couple of times. He has a regular office job, working from midnight to the morning. He does shows, now and then, on a very temporary basis, but he would rather be sleep deprived than to give up his job and pursue a career as an actor. He is frankly frightened of the insecurity. One day I tried to encourage him by showing him that even with my vagabond life my yearly income was approximately the same as his and thanks to the union my health and retirement benefits were the same.

So what was the difference? He always knew he had a job and I usually didn't know where my next job was coming from. He made the same amount of money each week while my salary varied depending on the job. He was afraid of being out of work. I could and did take temp work if times were slow. He grew up in a secure middle class family. I grew up in a economically depressed situation where we had to move all the time. I ask myself if any of those issues were really the cause of his reticence at taking the plunge into a career he trained himself for. I don't think so.

He was once let go from a job when an entire department was cleaned out. He lived for a year on unemployment and dabbled in theatre and when the unemployment ran out he got another steady job. Circumstances gave him a chance to get going and he didn't take it.

He once said that every time he thought about leaving his job and trying to start a career it gave him a knot in his stomach. Of course. That's the knot of fear we all experience when we have to face something fearful and uncertain. I have faced things like that many times. I have compassion for anyone who feels that knot, but it is not an excuse to hide and deny oneself the rewards of facing it down and living a life doing what one loves.

A career in the arts is a very big and complicated thing. In the acting world there are many facets, opportunities and requirements. To make a life out of it means not limiting oneself. To go from having a tomato patch in the back yard to suddenly being responsible for a 40 acre farm would be an intimidating thing for sure. It takes courage.

If my friend the actor took assessment of himself and saw his strengths, he's young and strong, good looking, intelligent and talented, has no family to support, he would see what he had to offer and how to sell himself. The one thing he lacks is courage, and that will keep him from the life he could have and will deprive the world of the results of his artistry.

Someone I know recently criticized me for not having the courage to stop and give up. "Be brave" she said. I laughed. It takes courage not to give up. It doesn't take super intelligence to know that.

To live a full and successful life it seems to me one has to face the fear and the stresses and go for it. We need the daring of Hannibal to take our elephants across the Alps and attack Rome, the daring of Washington to move our army across the freezing Delaware in the middle of the night to liberate Trenton. the daring of Eisenhower to invade the beaches of France to cut off the German Army. Life is no part time business.

A few years ago I was asked to play Zorba in the musical. Everything said I shouldn't do it. I'm not a singer, I'm not a dancer and I don't do musicals. So naturally I said "yes." I used to sit backstage 5 minutes before the curtain and wonder how I was going to get through it, even though I had done it the night before. It was a huge role, like running up a mountain with a pack of elephants. I was frightened. I had a knot in my stomach. But the music would start, I would go out and throw myself into it. If I still had the knot in my stomach I wasn't conscious of it. 2 hours later I had done the job. If you do the thing you fear you destroy the fear.

To be brave, to have courage, to dare sometimes feels like we're shaking our fist at destiny, but if we take the risk and strive for the results nature itself can come forth with forces to assist us. "Whoever strove to show her merit that did miss her love" Shakespeare wrote.

DB - The Vagabond

New Improved Weekend Puzzle

Straighten out these titles please.













(dgoo cklu)


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I like to refer to it as healthy tension, as long as you have that feeling, you are making progress.

pacifica62 said...

Thank goodness there were people in history that faced fears and dared to do what they needed to do anyways. It is not something that everyone can allow themself to do, but once they cross that threshold and leave their comfort zone, the impossible soon becomes the possible. Exhileration through daring.

Gerry said...

I know when my son calls and says the larder was empty but he did not panic. He said he used to panic when he didn't have food, but now he doesn't, and he got some money from somewhere and went on working on his play he is staging on top of the ledge in a real desert setting, and believe me those people that come to that show will see theater like they have never seen before. I said you just as well give them something to remember before you leave for the winter, which will be in Sept. Just the daring of not having a regular job has scared some of the people into seeing this show and filled others in that town with absolute disgust, but right now while he is building the set and into the final rehearsal he is in his element. He said the brilliant actor from LA playing the lead is unstable, but he said, I have worked with a lot of those in theater, and the actress he trained personally in Phoenix is proving to be the backbone of the production. She will not let it die. You can tell I love theater, the risk and the daring. I cannot stop talking when I am on that subject!