Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Who's In Control?

A few years ago, I felt this blog start to shift from being all about acting to being applicable to other aspects of life. I get feedback from a lot of actors who read this blog (more than I ever imagined, really), learn from it, and are inspired by it, so I've been mindful of that, and didn't want to let it slide too much into "other aspects of life." Truth is, though, I've changed. I've been writing this blog for close to 5 years, and I'm not the same person I was 5 years ago. You aren't either. And while I've also been hearing a number of actors tell me that they are inspired by me, and I take the compliment as graciously and humbly as I can, I am well aware that, in this case, the medium is not the message. I share my thoughts and experiences, but this isn't about me. Showbiz, heck, LIFE can lead us to a place of being very ego-centric at times: "Is my makeup right?" "How was my performance?" "Is he/she a better actor/actress?" "Is he/she going to take something from me" me me? I, I, I, mine, mine, mine. It's easy to justify these type of neuroses by saying that that's the way we have to be if we want to be good. If we want to HAVE good things in our lives. If we want to meet our goals. But if we are being lessened by the very thing that we are chasing, is it worth it? Artists work from the heart. If we aren't careful, showbusiness will have us sacrificing our souls for a shot at being able to create from our hearts. Kinda like selling your car for gas money, init?

What if we don't work that way? What if, instead of listening to the "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" of this career, we listen to the voice that led us here in the first place?

I've been talking to sooo many people and reading a lot of books lately (love my Kindle). I've listened to the experiences, thoughts, and concerns of a number actors, a former editor, a singer, a math professor, my sister, and my mother. I've been reading Kahlil Gibran, Leo Babauta, and Rilke. (Thanks to those of you who refilled my empty cup!) The common thread is that we all want to do something meaningful with ourselves and our respective talents that will touch the lives of other people in a lasting way. And, maybe it's more of a testament to the kind of people I have in my life, but not one person put "getting rich" as their ultimate goal. We all need to be paid enough to sustain ourselves, of course, but money is only a tool. Serving the greater common good is what drives most of us.

So, then, how do we marry the external need to make money with the internal drive to serve?

Dude, I wish I knew. I'm figuring it out as I go along, just like you. But I do know that if I stop getting in my own way, and listen to that little voice that led me to this place, things have a way of working themselves out, and I don't have to take anti-anxiety medication. When my gut says "yes," and I open my hands to give and receive, my life expands. Honestly, sometimes, that scares me more than failure, because, with each new expansion I wonder what's going to be required of me. When I allow that fear to be in control, I curl my hands into fists so that nothing can get out, but nothing can get in either. Before long, I am isolated, disconnected, and disenchanted. Sometimes I feel like show business breeds that kind of competition and segregation, but I can't allow that to live in me, or I'm selling my car for gas money again. Show business is simply the means by which I get paid. It is a system. A tool. It is not a way of life. And the system can not be allowed to be in the driver's seat.

Now begins the work of allowing my LIFE to expand and flourish, and evaluating how the existing system supports my need to touch people with long-lasting creative works of value. If the current system doesn't do what I need it to do, I'll have either to choose another tool or re-shape this one to suit me. Oh, boy. It scares me just to write that, but it is what it is.

This should be interesting.

--Nicole

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