Publish an article.
Get cast in a show.
Write a ten minute play.
Teach a workshop.
I got lost in this tornado of thoughts earlier this week as I desperately searched for an anchor, for something to hang onto, to feel valid, to feel like I wasn't a fraud, like I was exploring, creating, making.
I was halfway towards planning a doctorate degree, a new play, and a short film I want to make when the wheels in my mind screeched to a halt. I could almost smell the burning rubber on the road.
I realized that in all this figuring and scheming, that I was turning my back on a simple truth: I am already doing theatre. I am teaching a course on documentary theatre this fall at a local university. I am seeing plays, reading plays. I am writing, even if in fits and starts. I learn lines. I take classes. I am doing it. I am loving it. What more is there to want or need? What does the life of someone I consider a "real" actor look like anyway? What are they doing if not learning lines, writing, teaching, experiencing their craft? What is so different between us at the core?
Do I have other ideas I want to work on? Of course. Do I have plans to do some acting in the spring? Yes. But here I was, spinning my wheels thinking "I want o be doing theatre!" while at the same time not realizing an undeniable truth. I am doing theatre. Anyone else play this game with themselves?
Playwright Sarah Jones speaks so beautifully to this the myth of waiting to "make it" as a real artist in the theatre during a brief cameo in the wonderful film The Incredible Jessica James.
Jessica, a playwright and teaching artist, approaches Jones at a playwriting retreat and asks her what it feels like to have won awards for playwrighting, what the experience of actually doing theatre is like. Jones responds in such an unexpected way.
"You're doing it. This is it. There's kind of, not more to it than that."
No long dramatic speech. Just this simple truth. I can't stop thinking about it.
I do this with lots of things. I wish to eat healthier as I'm eating a huge salad for lunch. I wish to be better read as I carry my book on the subway. I even once said to a therapist, "I just really want to get better at working on different things in my life and habits that I have that I want to change." She smiled gently and looking me right in the eye, said "That's what you're doing right now by being here. You're doing iy."
Why is it so scary to admit that we are doing what we want to do, in some form, regardless of how glamour-less it feels or how small our steps or progress might be. Is it because we are scared that this might be it? The extraordinary and the mundane shuffling along side by side? I am doing it. So are you.
My big fear has often been "What happens if I call myself an actor and someone asks me to prove it? Or tells me that I'm not?"
But more and more my fear has transformed into "You alone have the right to identify yourself as an actor and a write and no one can tell you otherwise. What if YOU are the person that is denying yourself of that joy?"
What if, as the quote above suggests, the line we draw between where we are and where someone who has "made it" is invisible? What if our lives are built of similar tasks, worries, doubts, and inspiration? What if?
I am doing it.
You are doing it.
We are doing it.
I have hope that in letting myself win this self-induced battle of if I'm actually "doing it", I might take all that energy I robbed myself of trying to fight who I am and put it to better use, exploring and creating and making and feeling and performing. Seems to make more sense, at least to me. How about you?