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Archive for April, 2015

Crunching Numbers

I haven’t written anything for a few months.  Not that I went dry for ideas or fell asleep at the wheel; no, basically I was pushed to the brink of financial collapse before somehow managing to recover (though stumblingly).  I was faced with a period of gaps — one that artists, particularly in large metropolitan areas, often face.  We have projects, we have schedules and then things get moved or tweaked or scratched altogether and the months go by without producing much in the way of work or income.  In the past, I wouldn’t have minded much — I can get by.  When you have a child depending on you for food and a roof (school supplies, class trips, snacks, friends’ birthdays, etc.) it’s no longer feasible to cook rice for a month or to live on peanut butter and jelly.

Daniel Irizarry, one of the most gifted physical actors I know (meaning the control he has of his body and its ability to express ideas or emotion is extraordinary), once said that to survive as an artist in NYC, one needs to be an octopus — with arms in a lot of different activities.  I try to heed that advice — though I write because I act and vice versa — there’s no clear distinction for me between where one begins and the other ends.  Still, the periods of dead time come.

When I was a younger man, I used to question myself at these times: did I choose the right profession?  Am I not gifted enough to work full-time?  Am I doing something wrong (i.e. marketing, networking, relationships)?  One of the gifts of age (coupled with meditation) is that I no longer sweat the dead time.  The earth lies dead (in temperate regions) for at least 1/4 of the year.  It’s part of the process.  I find now that it keeps me focused, it keeps me hungry.  I am an actor because it’s what I know how to do — not because I get paid every day of the year.  I work from love, not from incentives.  I spend time learning each day.  I write daily too.  These are my passions and my gifts.  Sometimes others pay me for it, sometimes they don’t.  That’s just the flow of an artistic life.

There is still a mouth to feed, however.  Recently I’ve had to give that effort more focus than the artistic.  I no longer take that to mean I’m a failure.  I work 40 hours a week and no longer have time to write for four hours a day.  I just don’t.  My auditions are down from three a week to one.  I’m the one who has to remember my core — to benefit the earth and its people as much as possible with the work I create and perform, no matter how limited the chances become.

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