Several nights a week, I hear this quote in repetition:
“There’s nothing like fighting when you’re young and you’re happy. There’s nothing more deadly or more proficient then a happy fighter. Everybody believes that the mean and the surly fighter is the tough fighter but that’s not true. It’s the guy who’s more relaxed, the guy who loves what he does, and is just happy to be in there doing what he does.” – Mike Tyson
It makes me think of this quote:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself on a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” – Theodore Roosevelt
I’m trying hard to be happy doing what I do. This is no easy task. Because what I do is hard and I’m hard on myself. I get frustrated when things don’t go the way I want them to, even though I know they’re going the way they’re supposed to and that I’m better for the struggle. I’m trying to take risks, to be okay falling flat on my face. This is also hard. Because sometimes I don’t want to struggle. Sometimes doing what’s easy is just, well, easier.
Sometimes I think I should have married well. But the fact is: I would probably be miserable. And even though I struggle to do what I do, overall, I’m pretty pleased with the way things are turning out. Here are some examples:
1. I am in a show. It is a difficult show – difficult for the performers and difficult for the audience. Not because it’s not good, but because it’s different than what we’re all used to. It’s not typical, it’s not average, it’s not easy. It makes everyone in the room uncomfortable. It presents very specific challenges to performers and audience members alike. What I’ve noticed so far: those who are unwilling to accept the challenges walk away pretty f*cking grumpy. I walked away grumpy through quite a bit of the rehearsal process because I just couldn’t figure out how to meet the challenge. I had excuses, of course. I was tired. I was stressed out. I was overwhelmed with everything else going on in my life. But the reality is that I was grumpy because I was unwilling to face the challenges that the material and the process were presenting me. It all just made me uncomfortable and I didn’t want to explore the reasons why it all made me so uncomfortable. But there came a time when I was willing. Or at least more willing. It’s a pretty incredible show in many ways. And it’s ready now.
Here are Jo and Nathan doing something clear across the space from where my character lives. I have no idea what they’re doing, but they’re definitely doing something. More picture from the fabulous John Moore HERE.
2. I am two weeks into the semester. I am teaching two sections of Acting 1 at CU. The challenges of teaching this class are heightened this semester, because instead of offering Acting for Non-majors and Acting 1 for Majors, the department has combined the two courses. This means I have students who are theatre majors, who really want to do well, to learn something; I have students who are not theatre majors who really want to do well, to learn something; and students who don’t give a sh*t about learning anything, but want an “Easy A.” Nothing I teach is an “Easy A,” not because I try to make it hard but because it just is. Inherently. It requires a certain amount of comfort with discomfort, for all of us. I made my students watch this video: Brene Brown on the Power of Vulnerability. It’s a video that LA recommended when we first started seeing each other. My therapist was delighted that she recommended it.
We discussed the video in class. We talked about how vulnerability and connection relate to acting. We talked about the ways in which we are socialized, the ways in which we construct identities that are designed to protect, but really just do more harm than good. We talked about the ways in which people numb and the damage that does. It’s an awkward conversation to have with college kids in the second week of classes. But I think it went pretty well, overall.
3. I (and a lot of other awesome people) am getting ready for the Fringe. It’s been a difficult getting-ready. I won’t get into the reasons why. The good news: Kelsie will be here in less than a week. I always feel better when Kelsie is around. I even bought a box of Twinkies to get ready. This was of concern to LA, who voiced her fear that I would buy Twinkies every time I go to the grocery store. I hardly ever eat Twinkies, and haven’t had any since long before Hostess went bankrupt and they vanished from the shelves. This information seemed to make her feel better. I read somewhere that the recipe has only been slightly altered to extend their shelf life by 45 days. This is absurd.
4. I am trying to raise money for square product theatre. I am terrible at asking for money. And this venture has presented challenges that I wasn’t expecting, but those challenges have uncovered uncertainties that have opened doors of communication. So. I guess it’s going pretty well, so far. I’ve been really touched by the generosity of my family in particular – my aunts and uncle and cousins, mostly, who have never seen me in a show and don’t know anything about the company other than what they’ve read or been told, but donated anyway and are talking about coming up from Texas (and maybe Massachusetts) to see a show this season. These are not people I ever really get to see, so it would be pretty awesome if they made it. I think we’d have a lot of fun.
5. My friend Erin is doing a really great job of teaching me how to be a more generous, grateful, and courageous person. You can read more about one of the ways she’s doing that HERE. Sometimes I think about people who are this brave and selfless and I am both ashamed by my own selfish, petty attitude towards pretty much everything and inspired to be better. I can be better. We all can. Even if we just need a Twinkie sometimes.
I’m in the ring. I’m happy to be in the ring. I’m willing to get knocked out in the ring. Again. Because I am better for having been in the ring, even when I lose.