Thursday, August 15, 2013

I've Fallen and I AM Getting Up!

I'm convinced that invisible ink is utilized on our high school diplomas and our other higher learning accredited degrees.  Why?  Because it seem to me that our society is convinced that it's no longer acceptable to be a beginner afterwards.  Somehow hidden on the document declaring that "NAME has fulfilled all requirements to be conferred ___________" is something along the lines of:

"You no longer have permission to be a beginner again and must be good at your adult endeavors or else cease participating in them."  

Why?  It seems to be the overall sentiment.  It seems that people no longer have permission from society to learn a new skill or a new endeavor without some sort of scrutiny.  If a person decided they wanted to learn how to sing, the expectation is that they must instantly become the next Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston, or Pavarotti, less they're just wasting their time.  There's no room for mistakes, voice cracks, off key moments.  Is it any wonder why we have such a high rate of obesity?  People are expected to exercise and eat perfectly otherwise they're accused of wasting their time.  Yet exercise and voice training both have something in common: the need to fatigue and break muscle fiber.  In other words, the need to "fail."  Those who exercise know that their physique is dependent on the muscle fibers tearing and rebuilding.  Likewise when someone is learning to develop their voice, singing off key and cracking voice on a high note or range work the same way as a broken muscle fiber for a body builder.  

I didn't understand in the beginning why my acting classes were sometimes referred to as an"actors' lab."  That was and is because it wasn't so much a class where someone lectured and students took notes.  It was an experience created where the actors can "experiment" with their choices, being-ness and approaches to find out what enabled them to work more effectively as an actor.  In other words it was a safe environment giving an actor permission to make mistakes.  

One of my nieces had learned to walk within the last couple of months, and it was one of the most cutest and inspiring moments to savor.  I look forward to bringing in a little human into this world and as a parent, watch him/her tackle that same endeavor.  Anyhow as my niece falls, tumbles, picks herself back up, falls again, we adults look on with amazement and wonder.  Not once did anyone tell her, "OK, you fell X times already.  Just give it up."  If anyone had said such a thing, they would be ostracized and perhaps shunned from society and justifiably so for their insensitivity and callousness.  Yet why do we do that to each other when our peers, colleagues, friends, family, and lovers while pursuing something new and they have a "fall" per se, our immediately response is telling them, "give it up already?"  If it's considered inhumane to do that to a one year old who's learning to walk and talk, why isn't it considered inhumane to do that to each other?  

If anyone were to pursue an endeavor, learn a new skill, I become their cheerleader.  Why?  Because I know first-hand how much resistance that person will receive from other people within their own inner circle.  Don't get me wrong, if someone were to approach me and tell me they're aspiring to pursue acting, there'd better be a game plan to learn the craft.  I have told specific people to "give it up" to their faces, not because they fallen, but because they didn't even take any sort of step.  I've been approached by people who told me they wanted me to assist them in their pursuit of acting, but when I ask them what steps they've taken or are going to take, their answer was basically the fact that they're asking me to help them network with my colleagues.  Nope, sorry, in that case they are wasting my time.  I'm talking about being a cheerleader for those who have actually taken steps to pursue their endeavors, dreams, skills.  

What does it mean that I'll be their cheerleader?  Look out for incremental progress and cherish it because I know people en mass will focus on what went wrong.  If something did go wrong and it's correctable, simply remind them to make that correction/adjustment without harping them.  I've heard so many times, "see, you haven't progressed much in ________," or "you haven't changed a bit."  Hell, if two years pass by and only I see an increment of progress of .01%, my job as cheerleader is to celebrate that growth.  Yes, THAT .01% growth.  

We take for granted our ability to walk.  We take for granted our uprightness.  Unless someone has a debilitating medical condition, being upright and walking is the norm.  Even with debilitating medical conditions, some people are determined and succeed in standing upright and walk against conventional odds.  We expect it from every human born on this planet.  Yet when it comes to skills that takes time to develop, nurture, grow, we begin to categorize "natural talent," as opposed to "not meant to be." What's worse is for the most part we buy into that lie.  We accept it.  

Imagine learning a new skill, pursuing a lifelong dream, taking a class and the people closest to you are around you in the exact same state of being as they were when you were learning how to walk and talk at age 1.  Would you be more encouraged to study/practice/persist?  How much of a difference it is to hear, "it's OK, get back up now, you can do it" versus "give it up already?"  

So from 1999 to now, I've relentlessly pursued acting almost full time.  From humble beginnings at East West Players Summer Conservatory not being able in differentiating "stage right" from "right," to currently receiving a call from my agent telling me "you have a booking, and the pay is XYZ,"  I've fallen many times, often flat on my face with no cheerleader within range.  Nowadays, the phone is silent and I now wonder if my agent remembers me at all.  The crossroad is ahead of me and I see many splits on the road.  I've fallen and tumbled flat on my face last October 2012, and I'm STILL dusting myself off.  

Yet I'll learn to cheer myself on.  Cheer that I've dusted my bloody face, placed some wrappings and stopped the bleeding.  Cheer that I am able to take one step.  Cheer for the breath I'm taking now.  Will I still pursue the acting?  Don't know.  However I know I'll be back up and if the only cheerleader around is me, consider it practice for you.  At least you know I have the experience.  

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