“With some luck I just might keep on climbing…”

I always have a hard time settling on what kind of music I want to listen to while writing.  I can literally spend several minutes deliberating on what type of songs fit the tone of what I’m hoping to write about. It may also be a form of procrastination, but I prefer thinking of it as a strange little quirk.

Today’s quirky procrastination soundtrack is old school No Doubt. Something about these songs takes me right back to a very different time.

I had coffee with an old friend today, someone I haven’t seen in over five years, someone who was around during that very different time. She’s in the city for a couple of weeks auditioning for some stuff (everybody wish her many broken legs!) and she took an hour out of the craziness to have some coffee and catch up.

This seems like a little thing to reflect on but, for a few reasons, it’s really not.

First, if you’ve ever dealt with any kind of anxiety, you may understand how nerve-wracking making plans can be and how easy it is to find a million reasons to blow them off. To make social plans and follow through with them is an accomplishment for me. And it’s one I’m very happy about because seeing an old friend and being able to catch up like no time had really passed, well… that’s pretty awesome.

Second, something my friend said resonated with me. Something simple. She remarked on how we had a lot of fun back then. And I thought, “Yeah, you’re right.” And that was a strange thought because I’ve spent a great deal of time judging myself for my indiscriminate youth. But it wasn’t all bad. Seeing this friend reminded me that the good memories deserve as much weight as the not-so-good ones. Maybe they even deserve more.

Third, talking with someone my age who hadn’t given up on the big dreams definitely made me wonder how crazy I’ve been to put such strict limitations on my own. I spent a year auditioning for everything I could get seen for and it was overwhelming and stressful and just really, really hard. But there were times it was also exciting. Hanging out with this friend reminded me of how much courage and optimism it takes to try. She’s still determined to somehow make a life out of performing and that deserves a standing ovation.

And finally. Between apartment hunting and career uncertainty and life changes, my love affair with this city has felt very tenuous lately, but somehow just being able to say to a friend, “This is my favorite place in the city,” reminds me that roots take time to grow, but that some of mine are sinking into these busy sidewalks. And that’s something to hold onto.

Cause wouldn’t it be such a shame if all was wasted…

I think I should spend more time listening to music. It always reminds me of who I am, at my core. It always brings me back to myself.

Something about hearing a certain chord with the right voices gets straight to the heart of everything.

I had an interesting conversation with my sister the other day. In the nicest way possible, I’m pretty sure she told me, “Enough is enough.” I’ve been hiding out since my unceremonious departure from law school. I devoted months of my life to studying for something I didn’t even want to do and when the whole thing became too much I completely retreated. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the whys. I have a lot of theories, but I think the reality is that I was scared. Academics are easy for me. I took the LSAT after doing two shows the day before, one of them that started at midnight, and then going out for drinks afterward. Went to bed at 3am and got up at 6am and did well enough to be offered several full tuition scholarships. I know this sounds like bragging, but it’s not. I can’t take pride in something that wasn’t that difficult for me. Given the choice between what was right and what was easy, I chose easy. I seriously need a Pocket Dumbledore to remind me that the easy choice never comes without a cost. But this choice is starting to become more expensive than I bargained for. I already paid with a year that I can’t get back. So perhaps the well-intended admonishment from my little sister was more timely than I initially realized. Because it made me think. I’ve been in full retreat for awhile, and while I’ve gained an impressive knowledge of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’ve lost time that I can’t get back. Also, while I can blame some of my current ennui on my thyroid, I can’t keep allowing it to be an excuse. I told my wife yesterday that she could complain about something or she could decide to change it. (Disclaimer- I was not being my most patient and diplomatic self at that particular moment, but the words were true and now I need to start practicing what I preach lol.) So today I thought I’d brainstorm and come up with a list of some of the things I want to do and why I can’t do them if I’m busy hiding out and watching old sitcoms.

  • Scuba diving- I have wanted to learn to do this forever, but until I get my sedentary butt off the couch, I’ll never get in decent enough shape to make this a possibility.
  • Spelunking- I prefer to keep my thrill seeking at or below ground level, so you won’t see me talk about sky diving, but I am utterly taken with the idea of crawling around caverns. I’ve never had much chance to experience it, but what I have seen has left me with a serious itch to see more. But it’s the same deal. Even guided tours generally have some fitness/weight restrictions.
  • Aerial dancing- Can we just talk about how freaking amazing it would be to make art like this? But it requires CRAZY arm strength. CRAZY. And I don’t have that right now. And I can’t have that if I’m not doing anything more difficult than walking a 1/2 mi. to get coffee.
  • Surfing- You’d think a Florida child would have been surfing at least once or twice. No such luck. But I sure would love to try it. I’m pretty sure the real thing beats the heck out of channel surfing.
  • Tap dancing- I used to be a pretty decent hoofer, but I haven’t even put on my shoes for longer than I am comfortable admitting. An amazing teacher I had the last time I was coming out of a life rut told me I was a natural dancer. She pretty much made my life with that statement. But I got tired and started to forget myself again and on the way I lost the dancing. But I miss it. Gosh I miss it. Only now, and forgive me for making the uncomfortable statement, but I feel like that awkward fat kid in the back and I’m scared to go back. Logic always fails me here. It’s the one thing in the world that I want the most, but I’m terrified to go get it.
  • Performing- I want to be onstage again. The best part of me only exists when I’m actually being my best. My best me has been hiding out for awhile, sulking about being an old failure. But the only thing that’s done is start to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Every day that I spend avoiding the world is another day of failing and another day of getting older.

I think the gist of it all is that if I want to do anything with my life other than memorize obscure Angel quotes and reminisce about the golden days when I was full of glorious potential, I have to get back up. Falling down happens. Staying down is a choice. And maybe these are the golden days. Maybe that glorious potential is just waiting for me to resurrect it from where it’s been waiting while I was in hiding. I’m pretty sure it’s waiting in my feet somewhere. 🙂 Even at my saddest, my toes never stopped tapping out their rhythms. Something in me remembers the music. Maybe tomorrow will feel different, but today feels worth getting up for and that’s something to hold onto.

I will leave you with words from someone who expresses what I’m trying to say much better than I could ever hope to.

ODE
We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
 
With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.
 
We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.
-Arthur O’Shaughnessy
 
I want to be a music maker again. It’s time to resurrect some dreams. Thanks for the advice, little sister.

Nobody but me is going to change my story…

I’m listening to the song “If I Die Young” by Perry. It has struck some kind of chord in me. Now let me put your mind at ease lest you think this is going to segue into something morbid. My intent is actually just the opposite. When I originally heard this song, I found it overly morose and depressing and it angered me that it romanticized the idea of dying early. Lately, though, I’ve been hearing it differently. It’s almost a directive to live the time you have and live it so fully that when your time comes you will be able to rest knowing you’ve had enough time. Time is a concept I struggle with. I get so overwhelmed with the idea of how little of it any of us really has that I forget to be grateful and enjoy the moment I am in. Time, especially the idea of time I’ve wasted, terrifies me like nothing else. And that fear can be paralyzing, leading to more time wasted. And thus the symptoms perpetuate the problem. Recognizing this particular fear was not difficult for me. The difficulty is in conquering it. But I thought I’d give it a try. Today’s attempt starts by making a list of things I’ve decided I’m too old for, things that I’ve wasted too much time to pursue, in short- things I have decided there’s just not enough time for. Hopefully the attempt ends with being able to refute some of these beliefs…  

Things I (falsely) Believe I Am Too Old For

1. I’m too old to be so indecisive about what I want to do.

          *Let’s be real with this one- the problem isn’t necessarily indecisiveness per se. Knowing what I want to do has never been the problem. The indecisiveness is more about making up my mind to stop being such a coward. The problem lies in not being willing to fail sensationally. But is it better to fail sensationally at something you love or succeed spectacularly at something you’re apathetic about? Between that question and the little voice in my head that says I won’t make it anyway, I tend to get kind of stuck. So as a reminder to get out of my own way, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Sv02Izi5UA

2. I’m too old to pursue a performing career.

          *Kristen Wiig was 32 when she was discovered and she’s kind of a big deal now. Tim Allen spent a couple years in prison before  getting his shit together and he was 35 when he finally started getting work. And the lady I kind of share a name with, Melissa McCarthy- she didn’t start getting any kind of roles until she was around 30. Heck, Phyllis Diller’s first TV credit wasn’t until age 44. Oh, and Lynn Cohen, who is basically my personal hero didn’t start acting until she was 50 and she was in the freaking Hunger Games! Apparently there’s some truth to the idea that it’s never too late to be what you might have been. For further inspiration –> http://www.marieforleo.com/2011/09/are-you-too-old/

3. I’m too old (and out of shape) to start taking dance classes again.

          *Ok, this one I can refute myself to some extent. First of all, I don’t have to train to be a professional dancer to take classes and do what I enjoy. Second, yes, I am out of shape, but what better way to remedy that than to spend time doing something I love. Third, while I may feel out of place taking classes, chances are pretty good that I am paying way more attention to my awkwardness than anyone else in the room. That doesn’t make it easier, but at least it’s something to try and remember. And fourth, I am never happier than when I am dancing. Some of the greatest moments in my life were spent in a sweaty dance studio. There’s a freedom in dance that I haven’t been able to recapture in anything else. And lest my own words are not enough to convince me, here is a lovely article about saying yes to dance at any age. http://voices.yahoo.com/getting-into-ballet-older-age-its-possible-and-311097.html

4. I’m too old to flit around like a gypsy rather than settling down.

          *This one actually rings of truth. But another way of looking at it is, the more places we try, the more we know what we will and won’t accept in our forever home. I don’t want to settle in one place just because society says it’s time and because it’s easy. I wouldn’t mind resting my bones and growing some roots somewhere, but I want to LOVE that place. I want to wake up happy to be exactly where I am. And that might just take a little more trial and error.

5. I’m too old to go back to school… again.

          *Some statistics show the average age of a grad student is mid to late thirties. It’s never too late to expand your knowledge base and develop your talents. There’s no expiration date on your ability to learn and, indeed, the desire to continue doing so could even be considered commendable. More practically, an advanced degree increases your marketability. US News agrees with me. 🙂 http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/2012/04/13/4-graduate-school-myths-debunked

 

And in the same vein, a list of things I will regret if I don’t find a way to do them.

1. Getting healthy and happy

2. Traveling to Europe

3. Riding that scary HP ride at Universal

4. Dancing for me

5. Performing

 

Moral of the story: life doesn’t end just because you’re a grown up. I think it’s time for me to start redefining what an adult is for me personally. It’s easy to get caught up in outside ideas and expectations, but that hasn’t done me a lot of good thus far. In fact it landed me in Newark as a law school dropout. It’s also easy to get bogged down in insecurities and personal issues. And those are harder to resolve. But I’ve been feeling a little more optimistic lately and I think it’s about time to start trusting my dreams and letting my doubts be motivators rather than deterrents.