“Happiness hit her like a bullet in the back” – Florence and the Machine
For the longest time, I’ve felt like I was living life behind a pane of glass, watching characters dance across it that I projected from my own head.
Or that it was soundproof glass, no one could hear me scream.
I’m not sure when it started, it was likely a stealthy progression, aided by various numbing agents: alcohol, drugs, men, kids. These are a few examples of what I filled my life with when my little old self just wasn’t enough to cut it. Before I knew it, there is none of ME left.
I was numb from life. I couldn’t touch it, and it couldn’t touch me. I could sort of move it around, which fooled me into thinking I was living. I moved my family, breathed the mountain air, loved the streams, loved my family, my friends. I would have moments of happiness, but even when surrounded by loved ones, I was dying inside. A little bit of death every day: give up this cell for future security, another cell to do my duty, buy a future I thought I wanted. But the payments never end, and the principle doesn’t decrease.
I chased happiness like the greener grass on the other side of the fence, evanescent flickers of dappled light dancing like fireflies just out of reach. I’d get there, and it would be gone.
Then one day, it slammed into me. I realized I wanted to act. I still remember sitting in the hotel room, paralyzed as the truth hit me.
You see, suddenly, I understood what an actor’s job is. I realized the beauty and life-affirming act of showing up and being seen in all your humanity. Of ushering in stories from whatever world they dwell in. Affecting people. THAT is living.
Full of hope and excitement, I contacted a friend of mine that had done some acting. Great! He said, all I had to do was audition.
That single world put so much fear in me, I threw down the iPad where the offending message was housed. What was I thinking? Audition???
I was in ecstatic despair. People don’t start acting in their fifties, do they? (Turns out they do). Introverts surely don’t get up on stage, do they? (Turns out they do). People don’t give up nice, stable, “respectable” jobs to becomes artists do they?
Turns out they do.
So I garnered my courage, my manic energy, strapped on a new pair of bright-red Converse hi-tops, and went to my first audition at a local community college.
Wait, meek little science-nerd middle aged moms don’t go to community college drama departments and audition do they?
Turns out they do.
And I LOVED it.
Now I am taking another step – pursuing my dream “over the pond” – as I head to two weeks of intensive drama school training in London. I’m afraid I will be the only one over twenty. I’m afraid I’ll find out that my big dream – (attending full time drama school in London) is going to require more talent than I have. I’m also so excited I can hardly sleep.
One of my favorite quotes is attributed to George Adair. “Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”
How about you? Do you love something that is across a sea of fears? Something so terrifying it physically closes your throat and your palms sweat? Or maybe its blocked by shame, heart break, grief?
I’d love to hear your stories in discovering your love, facing your fears. Or not facing them. Leave your comments below, or email me. I will not share your emailed comments with anyone else.
And if you want more resources for living creatively, embracing vulnerability, and plotting your course, see my resources page.