It happened again. I froze. I had the chance to sing one of my favorite songs, and I froze.
It’s a funny thing being an actor. You live most of your life in perpetual unemployment. If you’re lucky, you get work every now and then. If you’re really good, you might even get a tv show or a national commercial. Although, if you’re really bad, you can still get those things too. It’s a funny business.
You choose this path for several reasons. Most of them have to do with because you want to create something. Some have to do with wanting to make a butt-load of money. Then there are those that do it because they just want to be famous.
I chose the way of the Actor when I was a kid for a much bigger cause. I saw that kids in the movies could cuss and not get in trouble. Especially in The Goonies. I couldn’t cuss at home. Not without getting into some serious hot water.
I tried to. I did. Some times I would get caught and get grounded. Some times I would do it and get away with it. But that was only because I mumbled the “S” word when I was talking about a “Ship”. I thought I was being so smart.
It wasn’t until a few years into this profession that I realized I was doing it because I liked it. I liked performing. I liked being in front of the camera, saying my name, then giving a profile. Left… then Right, then back to camera.
I enjoyed performing. I enjoyed the attention and the praise when I did a good take. Or the immediate joy when I delivered a funny line with perfect timing. Unfortunately, other people started finding out that I enjoyed it too. People in my family. So wherever I went, suddenly I was being asked to “do that thing”, or “do that dance”, or “sing that song.” We actors love the attention. But we’re not seals in a circus.
At first I was cool with it. But it didn’t take long before I started to not want to do it whenever someone asked. I began to resent I was even being considered to perform on command. This was usually at parties or family events. I didn’t care if I was getting paid to perform. That was my job. But not in front of Tias and Tios, or your stinkin’ co-workers! Yeah, I was being a big snob about it.
The thing is that, and I didn’t realize it until many years later, every time I didn’t perform was another time that I denied myself to live my dream. And by denying my dream of performing, I was opening the gates to deny any of my dreams. All I wanted was to perform. I wanted to sing and act. But when people asked me, I didn’t want to. And that’s why I froze.
It was Karaoke Night at Gilly’s Bar in San Diego. It was busy and people were drinking and singing songs that were so far out of their range, seagulls were complaining. It was a fun night and we were all having a great time. People watching, laughing, drinking and dancing.
I was there with friends and they were singing, and I wanted so badly to sing too. I even knew what song I wanted to sing. All I had to do was write down the song title, artist and my name on a piece of paper and hand it to the chubby, sweaty host behind the computer. Because apparently Karaoke is run by a computer now and not a machine with c.d.’s and stuff. But I didn’t. I froze. And when I did, my chance passed me by. And that frustrated me.
I pretended that I couldn’t think of a song to sing. I acted like I didn’t really want to. But I did. And I did nothing about it. Again. And thus, another performing opportunity went on by.
It was later that night, at home and with my head on the pillow, I realized that a missed opportunity in Karaoke is a metaphor for my life.
There have been too many opportunities that have come my way that I didn’t take. Because I was afraid, or nervous, or didn’t think I was good enough. Too many dreams unfulfilled because I pretended I didn’t want them in the first place.
Buying that house? I didn’t want it.
Like that girl? She’s not my type.
Try that plate of bruschetta? Hell no! Chunky tomatoes make me barf.
So no more. I want to Live. With a capital “L”, and the only way to do that is to take risk. After all, being an Actor is all about risk. Vulnerability. Performing.
So enough already. Live your life. Take that chance. Have fun. Cuss in the movies and in front of your parents. Grab the microphone and sing the song as loudly as you can. Go after what you want. Live your dreams. Because anything else is pretending that you’re just saying “Ship”.