When Self-Reliance Fails You, an Actor's Story

When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstance, revert at once to yourself, and don’t lose the rhythm more than you can help. You’ll have a better group of harmony if you keep on going back to it
— Marcus Aurelius

I can’t say that I have reverted to myself in these last moments. I ended up taking a drive and screaming in the car at the most resonant frequency my vocal chords could allow. Why?  Why did I crumble into an outrage I couldn’t even share with a family member? Well, actors heed; the mental circus we endure with all of its bull whips and caged freedoms is something few others will ever understand. 

Ne te quaesiveris extra - (Do not seek things outside of yourself)

I broke for the negation of the above. I have allowed myself the decadent reverie of a future that was not yet endowed. I have sought, and illusorily found, a thing, a mode of life, outside of myself that I very much wanted, and then as things go, I was awoken from the dream. 

A few weeks ago I was sent on a theatrical audition. Run of the mill audition for a series regular role on a new network TV show. I seldom talk about acting because it’s commonplace in my life. I enjoy it dearly, but the fruits of the pursuit have been thin and without too much promise, so I roll with the flow and keep quiet for the most part. Days after the audition I get the call-back. Fine. I’ll go back and read for the folks - It was fun the first time ‘round, why not? Well… another success; I was present, alive, reactive, listening. It felt good. Days pass and then another call to perform; a producer’s session. (This is when the majority of the people who make the final decision sit in a room and ogle at your performance) Now, as of late, I have been meditating with relative frequency, but I still get a little in my head when the pressure is on. It’s basically when you get past the general conceptual understanding of you as an actor playing a part in a fictional piece, and start scoping the larger picture with its needless details involving networks, budgets, bigwigs, career launches, etc. Even though the pressure isn’t supposed to be on and you are doing LITERALLY the EXACT SAME thing as all the other auditions, your root chakra tickles a little and synapses do a funny thing of fabricating a hologram you in front of you that watches you and judges you harder than any producer could. But I still rock it. This rarely happens for me at this stage. It’s a beautiful thing for Pasha when Pasha doesn’t trip over himself. Moments tick and another call tolls, late in the evening of that day; caller ID reads the number of management. 

“They want you to go in tomorrow for a chemistry read with the character that plays your brother. Producers and director will be watching via Skype.”

This is the first time I have ever gotten this far for a role so prospective. In my entire 10 year career as an actor, after all of my close calls and co-star/guest-star bookings, I have never been wheedled down to one of the final picks for a lead recurring role on a tv-series. 

I prep. Drink my coffee. Write in my morning journal. Meditate. Commute to Manhattan. Arrive at the Warner Brothers office. Meet my already “booked” brother. Skype is fired up. We’re called into the room. We vibe. We read. We improvise. We take critique. We are complimented on our performance. I leave. 

It’s a fun mental game to play trying to wave away passing thoughts as if they are clouds one intends to dissipate.  Did you get the part? Did you not? What did they really think of your read? You could have read that part better etc etc… But when you are thinking about the future you could possibly have if these clouds materialize into guiding wind currents, it is very difficult to just let them pass without giving them any thought. In my particular case, it would be akin to winning the lottery. I even joked with my girlfriend who is located at an unfortunately long distance away, “Hey, if I could relocate you, if you didn’t have to work any longer, and we could live together, and we would thrive and write, would you say yes?” She hummed in affirmation. It is impossible not to think about these things. 

Hours pass and I finally get the text from my manager, “They loved your read, but they decided to go in another direction with your part.” 

Are these the men that judge me?

Are these the men that judge me?

Blow to the lower intestine. 

Now…I signed up for this game after reading its rulebook. I knew the clauses, the fine print, the foreboding script of likely alcoholism and bouts of depression. I agreed to it all. But let me swing back to a time demarcation in the text; 10 years, perhaps 12 at this point, I’ve been going through these emotional tumults, honing my craft, hardening my psyche, remaining woefully and naively optimistic.

The truth of the matter is that I could write this very passage on my deathbed with only one thing altered for continuity; time spent in this race. 10 years? Could be 70.

 Actors, musicians, writers, thinkers, performers, entrepreneurs, innovators are given no guarantee of success, of posterity, of recompense. If you are in pursuit, my fellow man, I give you my energy and good-will! Know that in solidarity you have a place in my heart. I cry for you as I clench my fist and bleed for you. I understand. 

Do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

When a fire courses within you, there is nothing you can do but heed its velocity. It urges to be fanned by whatever means necessary, and only you can decide how to facilitate its fickle desires. For me, it was/is theatrical arts, but ever more frequently I am coming to realize that the existence of my personal fire no longer wishes to be privy to exogenous whims; to producers, casting directors, to directors. 

Many of you have been following the development of my alternate inferno “Glass Hamlet”. Although I still can’t say when the first comprehensive project will be released (the album) due to uncertainty and constraints of audio-engineers, I can at least say that an entire album + 2 separate EP projects have been RECORDED. I may not be strong enough to continue down the path of the actor. Or perhaps, I have found myself another mountain; my mountain. 

And to my fellow actors - keep fucking trucking on! The psychological olympics to which you are subject are of a superhuman level. As queens and kings of uncertainty, know that you are capable of transplanting yourself into any other environment in the world with adroit ability to still make it work… And with a smile no less! 

But as Cory Allen would say, “We are all just souls in these meat taxis of our bodies on the ride of life. So enjoy it.”

PS: those of you who haven't heard my latest collaboration with a cat from Dublin, check it out below! 

Immortality isn't guaranteed...but tattoos are

    I have terrible self-control, almost no follow-through, and a small catalogue of procrastination habits. Marry these fantastic qualities with a pursuit of an autonomous profession and you have something resembling a reptile that hasn’t quite evolved legs, but really wants to get out of the water onto land. I flounder 80% of my waking life. Philosophers back to Plato and Aristotle called this paradoxical failure of the will - Akrasia.  Akrasia and I have been intimately seeing one another for the good part of the last 6 years. Recently, as I have grown past my rambunctious 23 years, my experimental 24, I have reached 25, where I should generally have the semblance of my shit together. Along this path I was given many opportunities to indulge in real careers that my technical education is suited for, yet some strange “I” always pulled the handbrake before accelerating down that slippery hill. I’ve never made a conscious decision to pursue “art”, and honestly, I think that term is too lofty for my britches, yet through the daily tumults, Pasha has embraced a fate that will likely lead to unnoticed oblivion. Music! Ha! This is my formal decree; I belong to IT now.    

    Going back to procrastination and my ever advancing age, I decided to get a little commitment device. The term commitment device is from game theory and applies to strategic situations. It refers to a way of changing one’s own incentives to make an otherwise empty threat or promise credible. Odysseus tying himself to a boat to hear the sirens is a classic example of a commitment device. I fashioned my adaptation around a quote and a previous affinity; a tattoo. 

He who has done his best for his own time has lived for all times. - Friedrich Schiller

   With one life we are given only one chance to do our best, in whatever field we may find ourselves. I guess I’ve had a hard-on for immortality since reading Kundera’s, you guessed it, “Immortality” and ever since fantasized about an intellectual legacy. Perhaps that’s the “I” that has kept me in the quest of finding an outlet for my quirks and habits. But the defeat of mortality would assume noteworthy work left behind in my jet-stream, and I can’t say whether or not this will actually ever happen. That’s the risk, I guess. Well, the real risk will be if I will make enough life tokens from my work to buy my future wife anniversary presents and feed for my husky.     

    Schiller may have been trying to provide simple consolation with his words. Alas, he only said, “Do your best!”. Well, leave it to me to mince his words and etch, “BECOME IMMORTAL YOU SAVAGE!!!” on my arm. (It actually says “live for all times”) Now, when I think it’s ok to sleep in, I’ll have a present reminder that that’s not my best. When I decide to stay out late when I have to record in the morning, I will be told that that’s not my best. Likely, the metric of BEST will never be understood, but the certainty of death will always loom. Cut the morbid with a lime…I only say this to suppress my own ego. To conclude, I only hope that Akrasia doesn’t plead for alimony and that something comes of this circus…I’m missing out on legit game-time by foregoing Pokemon Go sessions. 

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