Thursday, April 25, 2013

"...I do what I want to do and what my band wants to do. And we continue to do that."

"I don't do this for what people tell me I should do with my life, or my band. I do what I want to do and what my band wants to do. And we continue to do that." 
- Jerry Cantrell

I read that, a quote from Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains, regarding fans who thought the band should've broke up after the death of original vocalist Layne Staley, and it reminded me of all the times I've compromised myself. Times I've capitulated to the wishes of others over a desire to belong, or to be liked. Where I could feel myself diminished by giving in, even if the ultimate result was, generally, a success.

I find that I've had a hard time communicating to others how I, personally, measure success in a project. I don't really care if "everybody," or even a lot of people, like a project I've attached myself to. It's FANTASTIC if they do, and I don't shit on that, or poo-poo it. I am thankful that they enjoyed it, and appreciate the support, with all my heart...

But the greatest satisfaction that I get from my work, and it really doesn't matter if it's acting, music, writing, whatever, is the feeling that I get in my chest, the sense that this, whatever it is, means something to me. That my heart, my soul, my body is engaged in this enterprise, and there is a literal feeling I get that wells up within me. When it's not there, I can feel the emptiness, I actually begin to feel ill. Physically ill.

I've met people who just don't get it. Who seem to see the nods in their direction, the applause, as the ultimate reward. The work was good, because people liked it. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, and, as I said, I do, very much, appreciate when people enjoy my work...

But greatness, satisfaction, for me, it can only come from within myself. It can't be forced upon me, and it can't be dictated to me. I have given performances that were fairly widely praised, which I knew, in my heart of hearts, were nothing more than goon-show mugging. I have accepted roles I knew I really didn't want to play because I felt like I should. For myriad reasons, of course, because it was a good paycheck, because it was a higher-profile company, because I felt like I owed somebody something, etc, etc.

All I want is to work on creative endeavors that challenge me. That make me grow, that push me to dig deeper into myself for answers. What I've learned is that there are people I will work with who don't really care about that, at all. Who think of acting as finding the perfect "bit" for a moment, or music as finding a really complicated riff. I've learned I have a very hard time working with people like that, if they don't give me the space to do my work in the way that means the most to me. If I don't get that, what was already difficult becomes very nearly impossible.

I guess I write this because I can feel the depression coming, in regards of my acting, the same sort of, "I just need to throw in the towel and retire" lack of enthusiasm that I felt before The Copperhead fell into my life and re-invigorated me. I feel like I've been backed into a corner, in terms of the choices I've made. I feel like I'm not in a position to control my own destiny, in as much as any actor ever really does that. I can see roles that are exactly what I want to do, and I feel them slipping out of reach.

I'm back looking for a "dare to be great situation," but the hardest thing, the most frustrating thing, as an actor, is that you need to convince somebody to think you have that greatness in you, to trust you, and give you the opportunity and space to  reach for it. As opposed to music, where I feel I can create my own opportunities. Sometimes, I truly wonder if those opportunities, that trust, have escaped me. 

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