Last evening, my family went to the movie theater to watch the filmed version of the National Theater's production of Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. (Amazing. Go see it if you have the chance.)
It was not a live feed, but it lost none of the live theater vigor and momentum that a film simply cannot reproduce. Film is distanced by editing and changes of scene and setting, but in theater they do all that right before your eyes, right now. The actors and crew work magic and transport you from your seat to another time and place. They sing, dance. They deliver lines as if they've just revealed their deepest heart and you weep with them. I've worked around theater. I've been to some big productions. I used to play in a rock band. Live performance can transmit an enormous amount of energy between performers and audience and back again.
My son, who was a good kid drifting through his youth as many kids do, decided a few years back that he wanted to try acting. I encouraged it. He landed a decent role in the smaller of the local theather's next production. He was amazing...line delivery, at ease on stage. And that kid blossomed. Grades went up, confidence increased, and he stopped drifting. He had realized he had a motor and could decide exactly where he went and how fast. He learned he was in control of his life.
Much has occurred since and now he's about to embark on a role in a web-series. He is beyond excited. So am I.
I knew seeing this stage play (even tho filmed) would be good for him. At intermission we talked and it became clear that he had just realized the bar could be set much higher than he had previously thought. Do you have any idea how awesome it is to see a kid's eyes sparkle because he's humbly admitted to you that he knows he has a lot of work to do--and is eager to get started?
That kid works out regularly. He eats right. This has influenced me; I've lost fifteen pounds so far.
I recognize his inner drive. It brings joy to my heart. All I have to do is encourage and support him, scope out the next steps, shine the light on them and get out of his way. He wants to do it. He is willing to work. He is willing to learn. He makes every effort to be prepared for the next opportunity as he climbs.
I was like that once. I'd drifted.... Good at art. Good at writing. Really good at playing music. I decided to focus on the band. As a seventeen year old girl who had been playing guitar for a year and could rock on-par with local fellas of twenty-one to twenty-five who'd been playing for six or seven years, a chick who could play the solos but tended toward more melodic emotive notes than the blazing jibberish so many did...I had something. I had talent and drive inside me. I played for hours and hours every day because I wanted to.
But I didn't have parents who understood how good I was or who had a clue how to help me be what I wanted to be, even if they had wanted that life for me -- which they didn't. They permitted me to be in a band and rehearse and play in the bars, but they set up road blocks as well. Eventually, my fire for that turned to embers. I allowed it, influenced by family ties and a near-deadly experience with electricity. Besides, too many people (read as too many attitidues + too many decision-makers + not enough of my interests) needed to be involved and it wasn't sustainable without total support.
But words...I didn't need three other people to be on board with the story to write it. I didn't need to use the car to go write. If I was up late writing, my folks didn't have to wait up for me.
I allowed their path for me to become mine. It failed. After I'd tried it their way, twice, I did what I had originally wanted to do. I went to college, but I did it as a mother of four and still managed to graduate summa cum laude. I've had six novels published by a major NY house.
I'm not done yet.
My drive is still on. My motor is churning hard and there's fuel a-plenty to burn.
Recognize that thing you do that gives you some joy. You know, that thing you do for you, the thing you're passionate about, the thing you've worked hard to nurture your talent around. That thing you willingly give your 'free' time to, it's your thing. Like the energy transferring from actor to audience and back, when you do your thing, you feed your fire and that fire feeds you. Be willing to work and learn. Be willing to fail and try again. Make every effort to be prepared for the next opportunity that comes. Never give up. The pursuit gives you not only joy, but personal character.