PRESSING THE RESTART BUTTON
When you wake up every morning feeling as if you’re armoring up for battle, it’s easy to lose sight of your dream. Trying to hold on to your sense of purpose as you dodge the slings and arrows of “show biz,” can shred your self-confidence and whither away your stamina. The profession you whole-heartedly picked can sometimes feel like a form of self-punishment if it isn’t managed with grace, dignity and intelligence. You are not alone if you find yourself saying, “Why am I still in this business, it’s so darn hard!”
Here is a very important question – Why are you in this business? Hopefully your answer will pack enough punch to:
- Persevere the incredible odds of succeeding and earning a decent living.
- Keep you in the game when you feel like throwing the towel in.
- Help you bounce back when you’ve had doors slammed in your face.
- Believe in yourself when it seems like no one around you does.
To overcome those kinds of challenges, you’ll need a strong, grounded driving force. One noble intention that will never let you down is altruism. Finding a purpose larger than yourself, a drive to make this world a better place through your artistic contributions. A sense that what you have to say and do is important for the world to hear and see because it will make a difference.
Let me give you an example of a man whose drive helped him become a legacy. Gordon Davidson, the artistic director for 38 years of the Center Theatre Group. Charles McNulty of the LA Times, describes Davidson as the “Founder of the Mark Taper Forum, eminence grise of the regional theater movement, and crusading champion of Los Angeles theater.” He founded, “LA.’s largest and most important nonprofit theater organization. His vast body of work includes, “The first full production of both parts of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, much of August Wilson’s great cycle, as well as Davidson’s own high points as a director, a list that includes Children of a Lesser God, The Deputy, The Trial of the Cantonsville Nine andThe Shadow Box. Davidson’s body of work showed that it was possible to make a career and a contribution.” Even now at 80, he is teaching a class at USC titled, “A Life in the Theatre With Gordon Davidson.” According to Puzo, a producer at the Taper in the Davidson years, “My hope by having Gordon teach at USC was that he would inspire in our students his passion for a theater created by and for a community that has both intrinsic (aesthetic) and instrumental (ethical, societal) value. Theater that as Gordon used to say, ‘Has its work to do in the world.’”
Gordon’s legacy was created by his passion and belief that theater is an important part of life. He describes his motivation to teach, “I want the students to recognize the two crucial components of theater — community building and storytelling. I tell them, you’re storytellers first and foremost sitting around the famous campfire.’ I decided that you can make a difference, that theater could make a difference, that it could make a change in society by holding the mirror up to nature. I want the students to involve themselves as citizens and artists. To be less self-inter
and to understand that they can be part of something larger. I know that I will feel better for having taught them that this art form I love dearly has an inherent value that needs constant addressing.”
These are noble goals to guide you towards your own accomplishments. When you are clear and focused on making a contribution to humanity, you won’t take every struggle that you encounter personally. Integrity helps you find strength to pick yourself up and begin again when you hit a bump in the road.You’re on a mission. You’ve got something important to accomplish. There’s no time for feeling sorry for yourself. Having an altruistic mission will not only carry you through your life, but it will help you look back and be proud of your actions, decisions and accomplishments. Don’t settle for just getting by. Make it your business to seek out people like Davidson and emulate their openhearted generosity. If your heroes are people with fat bank accounts and fame, the only thing you will attract is envy, and that’s not very attractive. You can always re-evaluate your path and make positive changes that will launch you towards growth, grace and integrity. Remember a good navigation system doesn’t say, “ Hey buddy what’s wrong with you? You made a wrong turn,” it just recalculates, recalculates, recalculates until it gets you to your destination.
Los Angeles actors may pick up the journal at Paper Chase Press.
For more inspiration, listen to Janeane Bernstein’s “Get The Funk Out.” A radio show filled with stories of inspiration and change, new creative directions and surprising twists and turns in this crazy roller coaster ride called life.
Bonnie Katz is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. She understands the unique demands and challenges of the acting profession because along with her experience as a psychotherapist, she has been a part of the acting community for the past 39 years. This unique combination enables her to have a deeper understanding of the struggles of actors. Her skills and training as a psychotherapist and mindful meditator enable her to work with clients in an atmosphere of warmth and understanding. For more information on Bonnie’s psychotherapy practice, visit her website. I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Click here for a free brochure on mindful meditation.