Thursday, January 20, 2011

What's That Line Danny Glover Always Says In The "Lethal Weapon" Movies?

I'll turn 40 this year.

Sometimes, it's hard to wrap my mind around that. Fourty. Four decades. The Big Four-OH.

It also strikes me that my tenth anniversary as a Chicagoan is this year. I had just turned 30 when CByrd, KByrd and I packed up that Penske truck and drove it here from Omaha. What's really sad, almost pathetic, about that is that I really feel like I didn't start living until we moved here. Oh, sure I did things, and monumental events came and went, but I can't help shaking the idea that I wasted 30 years of my life. At least the 20-odd that followed upon my high school graduation.

I don't regret that time, per se, I grew up a lot, and learned many things about myself and the world. And I certainly don't blame anyone, or anything. That said...I knew where I needed to be, what I needed to do, and I never really went after it until I was 30.

Now I'm almost 40.

Almost 40.

I look back on these ten years, and I see more growth, more wonderful experiences and changes...but the big dreams? The life-changing events that would challenge me, hone me into a stronger person, and reward me for my efforts? They never quite happened. They certainly didn't happen in the way I hoped and dreamed they would. I got an agent, I did/do some commercial work, never made SAG. I've auditioned for larger theatre companies, never got picked, never made Equity.

Yeah, yeah...I know. Equity is a double edged sword in Chicago.

The dream, of course, was to be a star. Anybody who says it wasn't is just lying because it didn't happen. That's where it all starts. If you're lucky, you move past that quickly, start thinking about making a living, about growing and improving within your craft, and that becomes the focus. A far more healthy and focused goal than, "I want to be a star." A great teacher helps, helps you see that craft and effort are their own reward (Thanks, Jeff).

"I want to be a star" is a goal that makes you end up on American Idol acting like a parody of  the Jean-Benet Ramsay child beauty queen. Anybody who watched AI last night ought to know EXACTLY who I'm talking about. She's 16, and her view of the world is already warped by reality TV and internet culture. She's selling herself, filming herself, and it's inconceivable to her that people won't care. You make YouTube videos, and then you're famous, right?

I just think about that girl, that poor little girl, and what will happen when (and it's when) she gets removed from the show. She'll become one of those people that they highlight every year, who made it to Hollywood once, and has been coming back each year, usually to more than one city, because it's the only conceivable path she sees to "stardom."

...and there's more and more of her, every, single, day.

I just wonder, when did we get so myopic? So self-obsessed? Oh, you could accuse me of it, as well, just for having this blog. Our worlds keep getting smaller. we watch the shows that tell us the things we want to hear, socially, financially, politically. You want to be famous? Just audition for Survivor. Reinforce that idea that there's no reason to better yourself, or learn more, or experience new things, because single-minded people work better on those shows. We're a country of reality show contestants, easily-pigeonholed, close-minded, sellable types.

I even say that as a guy who LOVED the first year of Survivor, and Real World when it first started. I remember working for a melodrama in Oceano, CA, and the cast would gather every, single week to watch new episodes the first season of Survivor, and we were all into it. You can't blame the shows, you can't.

You have to blame the society. The growing sense that working for a goal, making an effort, learning things, expanding yourself and your view of the world, is the suckers' way. Bowing to the idea that the world is made up of experiences outside your own? Don't want to deal with that. Too hard.

I dunno, as I grow older, I guess I get more and more cynical, and I was pretty Goddamn cynical to start with. What's worse is that I feel justified in my cynicism.

It's funny, a friend once took me to task, confused how I could speak so highly and devotedly about the emotions that get churned up in me from things that are aggressively non-cynical, The Shawshank Redemption, Field of Dreams, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Superman, Captain America, the entire Springsteen catalog...but I have such a dark and untrusting view of humanity.

It's because we don't deserve the lessons those works of art provide us. we see them, we acknowledge them, but we don't let them into our souls, not anymore. We mock and laugh as often as we really listen (and I certainly include myself in this, as well). Or maybe it's because they show me what the world could be, if we all just opened our hearts and minds again, even a little bit.

But we can't.

We prove it every day, with every choice. Every day we choose to make ourselves the center of the universe, and move around incredulous and angry that the rest of the world doesn't "get it." How pathetic we all are, how small and sad. How loud we talk and posture to try to negate it. How frightened we are to do otherwise, for fear we might be marginalized by others.

well, that was a bit of a ramble today, huh?

1 comment:

  1. Don't you think it is a tad self-absorbed to include the entire world in your "we?" Sure, people all have their own self interests at heart. Some more than others. But I could cite many chapters and verses of people, many, many, people who open their hearts and minds - reach out to others, to their ideas, to their passions, and actually, ACTUALLY put others before themselves. In losing themselves, they find themselves. AND, they find great joy in life doing it. So, I reject your reality and substitute my own. *adjusting rose-colored glasses to glare at you* : )