Short, But Important

There is this little sign we have on our desk at home. Not too big at all. It’s just the right size. I tried to guess how big, or small it is, but I just used my phone to measure it, because we don’t have a tape measure. Kind of a cool feature to have on a phone. Turns out, this little sign is about 5 1/2″ x 3″ in size. It’s made out of wood, not sure what kind. It isn’t heavy. It’s painted white on the face and sides, but not the back. Not sure why, but I guess it isn’t noticeable, seeing as how I just noticed it isn’t painted back there. It has black lettering on it. Not calligraphy, but some kind of handwriting. All of the letters are lowercased, which probably would have driven my handwriting teachers nuts.

This little sign was sent to my bride some time ago. A very good friend of hers sent it to help get a short, but important, meaning across. Something she needed to hear, or read, at the time. It came at the perfect time in her life. Good friends have a tendency to come through to you at just the right time.

Now, this little sign sits near the corner of our desk with its message. Giving me something I get to read every day. A short, but important, message a short glance away from this screen I’m looking at right now. A short, but important, message to remind me when I get in doubt of what I’m doing, or writing, or creating, or trying to create. A short, but important message, when I get a rejection email, or read something unsettling on social media, or when I need to self-tape and I think I just don’t have “it”.

A short, but important message.

So Strange

It’s funny how it feels. The nervousness. The doubt. The feeling of shame and fear and strange elation before it happens. That inaccurate, but almost truthful, idea of Impostor Syndrome. That idea that you’re not supposed to be there. It’s so strong. So, so strong.

And then, in an instant, it’s gone when you hear your cue line. Or when you hear, ‘ACTION!’.

Such a strange business, this Acting business. So very strange.

I Watched Myself

The other day, I was scrolling through social media. That was my first mistake. My second, was I happened upon a video of a show I was in not too long ago. It was a great show. Unique and fun and widely received as an instant classic. But my mistake wasn’t being in the show. It was watching the video of my performance.

There I was, on a stage in a professional and well respected theatre, doing my thing. But what I saw was something I didn’t even think was possible.

I sucked so bad!

No joke. It was so, SO bad! My pacing was off, my walking was lumbered, my projection was lacking, my accent was horrid. A lemur on crack could’ve turned in a more convincing performance in the dark and underwater. I watched in shock and sadness as the video rolled on. Fortunately, the section I watched was only about a minute long. Any longer and I could’ve thrown my phone outside the window of my third-story apartment and then run downstairs to step on it and let my dog defecate on it.

It was that video, and the embarrassed and sad feelings after, that clearly put me in the company of those performers who are always saying they never watch their work.

But then it hit me.

If I had never seen it, and felt the way I did at that moment, would I have learned anything?

Sure, there was the feeling of wanting to quit this Show-Business thing and finally take that job as a railroad brakeman somewhere in the Southwest, smoke unfiltered cigarettes and drink White Dog to fall asleep and drown out the memories.

But then I got an idea. Learn from this.

You don’t know it all. You’re not as amazing as you think you are, but you’re not as bad as you think you are also. You are on a journey and not every step is going to be perfect. In fact, no step is going to be perfect. But you don’t leave the journey. You just keep going.

Since that day of watching that video, I’ve watched it again several times. Because I am in the mindset to improve. Maybe I wasn’t as bad as I think I was. Lots of folks said I did a great job, and I don’t think they were just being nice.

But I want to get better. To be the best Artist I can be. So I watch and learn.

Try It

Just try.

I don’t want to.

Please.

Why?

Because I’m asking you to.

That’s not a reason.

Because I think it will help.

Help, what?

Help you.

But what if it doesn’t?

Maybe it won’t, maybe it will. But how will you know until you try?

I don’t know how.

I’ll show you.

You’ve done it?

I have. Lots of times.

And it worked?

Most of the time.

What happened the other times?

I just tried again.

And?

And then I did it again… You’re still thinking about it?

I’m worried it won’t work. I’m worried I won’t like it. What if it hurts?

Some times it does.

It does?

It does. But when it does, you keep doing it and then eventually it doesn’t hurt so much anymore.

What if I like it and don’t want to stop?

Would that be a bad thing?

What if I can’t stop?

Would that be a bad thing?

But… I don’t remember how.

I’m here. I’ll help you.

….

Okay, I’ll do it.

Are you sure?

If you’ll help me.

I will. I’m here.

… Okay.

Ready?

Ready.

Close your eyes. Breathe In… 2, 3, 4. Hold for 4.. 2, 3, 4. And, Out.. 2, 3, 4.

Again, In… 2, 3, 4. Hold for 4… 2, 3, 4. And, Out… 2, 3, 4.

How do you feel?

I think I want to cry.

Okay.

I feel… like I want to do it again. Is that okay? Will you do it with me?

Of course. I’m here.

Thank you, Heart. I missed you.

I missed you too.

Today

I just don’t have it today.

I don’t have the words to write something creative, or fun, or in any way at all interesting.

I don’t have the energy, haven’t had it for the last few months, to come to this page and these little black keys and let my brain unload. It’s just not there.

I don’t have the ideas or the thoughts or well thought out plans to complete a project, or a sentence, or pull a Yellow Pages commercial and “Let your fingers do the walking.” Dating myself much?

I know I should be here. I should show up. Here.

On this blank digital page and let the words type out in digital black ink and type away and let the words simply flow out of me and fly away forever. I know I can look at this page and create a sentence, a paragraph, all in a breath and leave it out there to take up space in the digital cloud. My words, digital rain in a digital cloud.

But I just don’t have it, today.

Because I want to write and let my voice be heard in your head as you read this and let you know I’m still here. I’m still writing. I’m still thinking and feeling and breathing. One breath after another. Over and over again. Minute by minute. I’m still here.

For a person who made his living standing in front of others, speaking and projecting and reciting, today has no energy to sigh.

But I’m still here. Watching the news, scrolling the feeds, scanning the horizon for, what am I looking for? Hope? Inspiration? A message from thundering clouds, sent to a burning bush, purposeful spring water from a broken rock telling me to keep looking up because we can still make it, til we make it. Just keep going.

Because even though I don’t have it today, tonight is coming.

So is tomorrow. Then the next day.

You got this. I believe in you.