Anticipation and Common Sense (or why not to build a wall)
It’s been almost a year since I shot a thing that I can’t talk about. It was a one-off thing, but came with a small chance of more, and zero promises.
Well here we are and more will happen but there’s still some up-in-the-air about whether or not I’ll be involved when it goes. And that’s the limbo I’ve been in for four months or so now: Maybe there’ll be plenty of work for me in the new year and maybe there won’t be and we should find out next week. Well it’s the new year now and we still don’t really know.
And that’s ok. The uncertainty and fear; the anxiety of the unknown.
It’s ok. Because it has to be.
This is the really difficult thing for me about acting. At any moment I could get a call saying, “You got it!” And that can mean a lot of money, prestige, notoriety, work, joy, or any combination thereof. It’s a pretty intoxicating combination. And it’s a very real thing: There’s a phone call that could happen any day now that says, essentially, “relax, you’re going to have high-profile work for months on end that pays well and could lead by its nature to even more future work.”
There’s a problem, though. I could also get the other phone call.
In fact, the other one has a huge statistical likelihood of being the call I get. Usually, mercifully, there is no phone call. If you don’t hear about it, that means it went away. That makes it easier to forget.
This is the common sense thing I normally do when it comes to auditioning. Do the audition, and promptly forget it. I move forward. I look to what’s next. An audition is so often for a job that won’t go beyond a few shoot days, or one or two recording sessions. It’s actually rare for me to find myself in a position like this one, wherein I already passed the audition and did the initial work and now my fate is caught up in the extended machinations of executive meetings and rewrites and production whims and a myriad things outside of my control. But as the process has been so extended and yet within it there’s been so little I control I can exert on the decision-making, the whole thing becomes somewhat manic for me. I start to think crazed things like maybe I should put another audition on tape for them to show them my range, or maybe I should take a trip to whatever LA boardroom in which my destiny is teetering, and glad-hand, live-read, or somehow or other otherwise totally screw myself out of the job.
No, no. All of that is craziness. It’s the insecurity of the profession made manifest. I would seem like a desperate nutcase at the Whole Foods with some homemade Almond Butter and misplaced chutzpah, doing the box step to impress the teenaged produce manager while she headsets the code for ‘call the police’ to anyone who’ll listen. I can see myself straight-jacketed and sweaty from dance calling, “Try my nuts! TRY MY NUTS,” smiling-always-smiling while they cart me off to the sanitarium we actors call ‘obscurity.’
So while every fibre in me cries out to DO something, I have to allow for reason to weigh in or I’m done. I have to trust that the job I have already performed is enough to buoy me over into the job I have yet to perform; that the people in charge have the wisdom to make the correct choice for their show (obviously I think it’s ME); and that the patience I can show now speaks well of my grace and humility should the choice to go elsewhere be the final decision. How I fail to get the job informs their future choices to hire me for something else just as much as how well I do the job does, should I actually get it.
That’s what we miss so often in the world at large, that oft secondary reliance on common sense and reason. I can understand, to take a page from recent headlines, the scared and juvenile urge to shut down borders, build walls and look only to faces built of familiar skin. But it’s obvious, really, that none of that constitutes a sensible position. Trade & tourism are interrupted by shutting borders, innocent people are punished along with guilty ones, walls don’t work (China built a Great One once. Anyone know how that worked out?), and faces of familiar skin are just as likely (if not more so), to be the ones on the wrong end of a trigger for your overall health, and it’s clearly folly therefore to trust or distrust people on that basis alone. So have the urge, sure. But temper it with reason, and your grace and humility in the face of what you cannot control will lead you far wiser than the bumbling oaf you would have been had you ploughed a swath through reason and ended up alone in the world with only your reflection for company.
And so, I wait in the limbo of anxiety, chomping at my proverbial bit. I’m alert, ready to act should I be required to. And as always, in the end, rationality and wisdom trumps the feeling you get before the easy answer is given any thought; the lunacy of insecurities made real.