Musings of an Irish-American

Sometimes I think about stuff, and then I write it here…

Monthly Archives: August 2011

baby steps

Today I took what, on the outside, may seem like a rather insignificant step, but, I’m hoping, it’s a step that has more long-lasting implications than what one might glean from the surface.

I registered for an acting class at Chicago’s ActOne Studios, the second acting class I have signed up for, having signed up for the other at the Piven Theatre Workshop in Evanston. It’s the beginning of what I see as an arduous and defining journey in my life.

I certainly don’t want to assign too much weight to it; for all intents and purposes, the actions of my life currently are as inconsequential as spitting in Lake Michigan. However, after coming home in May and facing rejection at every audition I’ve gone out for (a few callbacks, but nothing from those either), I realized I had to do something. I’ve been told that I have good instincts, but not enough formal training. All I have at this point is a job at a casino impersonating Buddy Holly and dealing blackjack. And that’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed the job itself, or the people I’ve met. But I’ve certainly realized that this isn’t my calling; it’s really the defining difference between “a job” and “a career”. What I’m doing right now is my job; signing up and taking these classes is what I want as my career.

The most difficult thing, not to harp on this point, is not having caught on somewhere (either in terms of going to graduate school or, since coming home, in a professional production); I keep reminding myself of a mantra a friend once told me that, in this industry, “you have to face a thousand nos before you get to that one yes” you’re looking for. It’s definitely shifted my perspective on how things work.  It’s, in fact, quite the opposite of what anyone is led to believe in the first twenty or so years of their life, wherein you go to school, and then more school and then, if you work really hard and apply, more school. Game, set, match. Connect Four. Yahtzee.

The life a person faces after graduating from college (and I’m sure much the same for graduate school) is not the cut-and-dry sequence that we’re all presented with as we grow, mature and develop. That’s not to say that there’s a problem with structure, it’s just to say that there’s a problem with this kind of “pass GO and collect $200”  mentality we’ve developed. If anything, real life is more like “pass GO and keep looking for that job” or “don’t pass GO, at least not yet”.

I’ve started to try to come up with a much more long-term view of where things are headed, where they’re going and what I need to do to get there. It’s the “long game” in every sense of that phrase. The way I see it, I’m going to take these classes, train for what I hope develops into my career, keep this job (both because it’s been quite a bit of fun and is definitely an interesting study in human behavior) and keep trying.

I just finished reading wrestler Mick Foley’s fourth memoir Countdown to Lockdown: A Hardcore Journal and, in his afterword, he says something that, where I am currently, speaks very deeply to me: “If I’ve learned one thing in life, one truly important thing – it’s not to allow anyone else to define what success is. We get to do that for ourselves.” And you can bet your bottom that, by my definition, success is going to knock your socks off.

-MJH

this ain’t goodbye

(Insert overused statement about regretfully waiting so long to post here).

Now that we’re past that, the title of this post is from a song by the popular band Train. It popped in my head today as I was driving back to Chicago from Fort Wayne, Indiana, after attending the wedding of two very good friends of mine. It was a beautiful ceremony for a beautiful occasion; I had never shed a tear at a wedding before this one, mainly because I knew how real and wonderful the love shared by my friends was, and how happy I was seeing them making the ultimate commitment to each other. Besides the ceremony itself, I also had a wonderful time living it up with many college friends at the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, the reception and today’s post-wedding brunch.

The unfortunate side effect of this (and the reason I’m referencing this particular Train song) is how many feelings that were resurrected from the immediate fallout of graduating from DePauw in May. I found myself overcome with emotion as I left today’s brunch due to the realization that there wasn’t another get-together we could all circle on our calendars in anticipation of seeing one another again. It made me re-realize how many people I  knew I would miss having in my life on a regular basis, how many people I had shared laughs, jokes, thought-provoking conversations and knowing smiles with and how emotional I felt about all of it back in May.

I realized driving home that, since then, I had basically forgotten about how it felt, which almost made me more emotional about the whole ordeal. I’m not a proponent of dwelling on one’s feelings, or constantly re-hashing old feelings for the sake of not forgetting them, but I figured out that I had stopped hurting over the course of the past three months because I had pushed all those feelings in the back of my head. I didn’t deal with them, I basically put them in a hole and thought,  “Well, that should do.”

No more, I say.

If you’re reading this and you’ve touched my life in any way, shape or form (or I in yours), know that I will always carry you in my heart, that you will always be with me on my journey, and that I don’t regret a single bit of any of it. We are products of our experiences and our interactions, so, no matter how insignificant you may think it may be, if we’ve met, talked, laughed, drank, enjoyed each other’s company or any combination of those activities, you’ve helped make me who I am and, for that, I am grateful. This isn’t goodbye because, in my book, that’s too permanent; when we part, I wish you safe travels, blessings on your experiences and the hope (nay, the expectation) that we will see each other again. Don’t ever forget that.

I know I won’t.

Yours,
MJH