Sunday, January 24, 2016

downed branches, Hamilton the musical, and self-actualization.

It's been raining a lot in California. It's been real wet & dark & dingy around here lately. I've been listening to a lot of Hamilton & eating a lot of veggie sandwiches & thinking about self-actualization because what else would you expect from me & doing a lot of wishing for summer & warmth & when it actually stays light later than 5:00 pm.

We need the rain. Our land needs it. There are branches all over the streets because it's been storming so much. As soon as the branches get cleaned up, another storm happens and the street is strewn with twigs & branches & palm leaves. But, it's still a good thing, ultimately. All this rain. California is grateful.

So, back to the whole self-actualization thing. Maybe it's the Millennial part of me or maybe the painfully impatient part of me or the white-middle-class-I-can-have-it-all-American-dream part of me or the words "you're meant for this" "you were born to do this" floating around in my brain or the fact that I've been on one single trajectory for more or less my entire life part of me. All this self-actualization stuff is stressing me out. Maybe everyone goes through this, but it seems sometimes that artists experience it at a more magnified level. This pressure to fully realize our potential as artists & performers. In the world we live in, our "success" is entirely measurable. The number of gigs we've booked. The caliber of gigs we've booked. The drive we demonstrate. The kind of go-get-'em attitude that has been pounded into our brains since we went to high school & auditioned for every show & told our teachers this is what we wanted to do.
Because you have to be relentless.
You have to pound the pavement.
You have to go where the work takes you.
Because the work is where the fulfillment is.
Because, you were born for this. And if you don't fully manifest this part of your destiny, you are not fully realizing your potential.

This.
This is what I struggle with. It's a very real part of my life. The fact that I love being a performer, but that maybe performing has become a sort of drug. When I can't get it, I go through a very real kind of withdrawal. I wonder who the hell I am without it. Because my definition is found in this. Suddenly my definition, who I am, is found in the expression & the caliber of my art. I perform. I live onstage. I experience real joy onstage. And then the gig ends. And maybe I have another gig. Maybe I don't. Maybe I have another audition or two or three. Maybe I don't. Meanwhile, I'm questioning it all. Because the words "you're meant for this" roll around in my head, torturing me, when I'm not doing what I am supposedly born to do. Even though, professionally, it's the only thing I have ever been going towards.
Maybe this is what it feels like to be a tortured artist...

(I'm laughing at myself)

I don't even know what I'm getting at, other than, maybe self-actualization, for me, is less about getting to Broadway. Less about getting nominated for an Oscar. Less about achieving measurable success in my chosen career field. Maybe it's about identifying the fact that sometimes it rains really really hard and there are branches all over the ground and you have to let them get cleaned up so people can walk their dogs down the sidewalks and palm branches aren't in the middle of the streets anymore and the Hamilton soundtrack keeps playing in my ears, saying "I am the one thing in life I can control" reminding me, ironically, that yes Alissa, you have your own permission to take a look at the trajectory your life has been on and question it and balance it & remind yourself how much you love it & also try new things & to not be afraid & to not know if it's the "right" thing and self-actualization can be creating your own health & stability. Whatever that means.

i'm willing to wait for it

1 comment:

  1. "yes Alissa, you have your own permission to take a look at the trajectory your life has been on and question it and balance it & remind yourself how much you love it & also try new things & to not be afraid & to not know if it's the "right" thing and self-actualization can be creating your own health & stability. Whatever that means"

    You're so right. We had this discussion tonight over Almond-Milk lattes and Pu-erh tea that smells reminiscent of China (where neither of us have been) (YET) and remembering to embrace and discover our essence. And that we have choices. And measure of success is arbitrary- and we are so free to define our own success. And that we are possibly the most similar. And now I'm having cookies and milk and listening to Hamilton.

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