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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Do you need to do this thing that you do?

The snow has piled up yet again, another layer on top of layer after layer of crusty snow, melted and refrozen god knows how many times.  On the rooftops and the sidewalks, the fire escapes and subway stairs, icicles and slush puddles, slicked over spots on the pavement, almost invisible until you lose your footing and realize you're still just one bad step away from finally wiping out, because you know it's going to happen eventually.  This is winter in New York City.  This is what I knew I was in store for but, admittedly, had idealized in my mind. 

Whatever, I'm over it.  I totally forgot to mention that as of a week ago I've been here 5 solid years.  Positively unflappable amongst the series of hard knocks it took to get here because let's face it, at the end of the day, I'm still having the time of my life. Anything is better than the suburban hell I almost found myself in (no offense to suburbia), but this is still my dream, and more than I could have hoped for or imagined myself doing, as recently as 7 years ago.  Even not having made it yet, just having the opportunity to give it everything I've got is something.

I read an article today in this week's New York magazine about Lupita Nyong'o, who's probably going to win an Oscar this year for "12 Years as a Slave," (which I've yet to see) and what stood out to me was a quote from Ralph Fiennes, with whom she spoke when she worked as a production assistant on the set of "The Constant Gardner" when they filmed in Kenya (where she's from).  "If there's something else you want to do, do that. Only act if you feel you can't live without it."  I've heard some version of this multiple times, in reference to difficult careers in show business; once from the great Henry Winkler the summer I worked as a TA at a Chapman University summer course on filmmaking, through Duke University's TIP program, when he spoke to our students and said, "Do you need to do this thing that you do? Or does it just sound exciting?"  Another time was during my interview for graduate school, only it was phrased more as a statement.  My soon-to-be composition instructor said that film scoring wasn't an easy path.  Without flinching or even thinking about my response, I shot back, "I'm not doing it because it's easy.  I'm doing it because I have to." Or some such haughty response. 

And I meant it.  I'd die without this.  I almost did.  And I don't mean keel over.  I mean, die inside.  I'd be living, but for what?  Do you know that what this career path, this lofty goal of mine does is sustain me?  Up until my battle with depression got to its worst, I hadn't really considered that.  But once I hit rock bottom and I realized that I wasn't taking it seriously and it was slipping away from me, something switched on inside me and I knew I had to change my path.  Otherwise the depression would have swallowed me whole and spit out an empty shell.  I had to do something different.  Sadly, it wasn't until my divorce that I was met face to face with how flippant I'd been, how casual about the whole thing I'd been.  I saw that I was the only thing standing in my way at that point was me.  Indeed the only thing that had ever been in my way was me. 

I won't say that I still don't battle with myself and with all the negative thoughts that creep up.  This is a hard career path, and such a small percentage of people who pursue it make something of themselves.  But to be honest, I've gotten realistic about it.  I don't want fame and an Oscar so much as I just want to be able to sustain myself with it.  And I know I can.  I have confidence.  Something that was lacking before.

And I have a good feeling about this year and all the opportunities cropping up.  If I believed in a jinx, I'd shut up and not say so much about what's in store but I'll start with this morning when I got a call about a promising sounding voice over audition out of the blue. Add to that, "The Life" is picking up momentum and I'll be scoring the pilot episode very soon.  There are others I won't speak of, not so much in the interest of not jinxing myself but to not get too far ahead of myself.  Because that's important too.  For the psyche.  The idea is minimizing the negative effects of disappointment by not getting my hopes up in the first place.  At least not too far up.  

1 comment:

  1. you got it....very wise, very pragmatic, yet very inspiring. all about in the moment, and making sure each day was sufficient in itself as well as a strong and sturdy step forward.

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