I stopped by the Talking Stick on Friday night to show my love for their Venice MoZaic series hosted by the lovely Audrey. I had a cappuccino and enjoyed one of the bands for about a half hour or so. Getting a little hungry, I decided I would head to Santino’s for a bite and check out Fabiano, one of their regular guitarists.
On my way out, I ran into a man from South America, a musician, who had been in this country for some years. He followed me to my car and asked if he could play my guitar. When he saw my standard factory Fender acoustic, he noted that he actually played Spanish Guitar, but he could still play mine. He did, beautifully, and he sang right on the street – to me and the night. I always love when Elizabeth is handled by a real musician. It makes me feel less guilty.
Then we kept talking, mostly about his personal life, which I will not get into, but to say it was heartbreaking and fascinating. In the beginning of the conversation, he revealed he was writing a book on economics. Then he went on to say that he found musicians in the United States were different than other countries in that, they were so absorbed in the music or the lifestyle of the musician, it was all there was, all they had. In other countries, he said, musicians develop their intellects and are more socially active and engaged outside of their own world.
Now, to be fair, I do not think he meant the ENTIRETY of American musicians. He seemed as though he had been based in LA most of the time he’d lived here and, probably, specifically, Venice Beach. But from my observations of the local scene and certain aspects of the biz at large, I had to agree with him. I also thought, yeah, and they smoke too much pot and spend way too much time watching YouTube…
He went on to say that he did not know how he could continue to grow as a musician, for his composition to mature and his life to move forward, if he did not develop his intellect and spiritual life along with his musical skills. Again, I concurred. I had seen what extremely out of balance lives could do to brilliant musicians, how it negatively impacted their music and the people around them. And that goes for others, too…
I was reminded of my Chicago actor days. I fell in to being a legal secretary to support myself until the BIG DREAM came true. I got lucky and ended up with a boss who loved me and was very flexible with my actor life. I got pretty emotionally involved with the office where I worked. I also adored the partner whose office was next to my boss, and three out of four secretaries who sat next to my cubicle over the years.
Kind of a Polly Anna on crack, I was probably too involved, but I looked hard at the lives of the people around me and did my best to be, not just a good worker, but a positive influence. After all, 40 hours a week is a lot of time to simply not participate in being human. I often got angry with Chicago plays set in offices because I thought the characterizations of corporate life were incredibly thin.
Along those lines, I had a conversation with a young actor at a party once. We both revealed that office work was the primary way we ate. I mentioned that I loved the people I worked with. To which he replied, “Oh! I know what you mean.”
“What do I mean?” Since I thought it was a pretty straightforward statement, I wondered at how he had interpreted it.
“You mean you love what you observe and learn about character. You love what you can use, what you get out of those people.”
“No…Uh…I really love the people I work with.”
“Wow! You mean you actually like those people!?!”
And I thought, how can you be a good actor if you are standing back, never engaging in life, so that you are always recreating a false experience? How can you be a good actor if you are always judging the very people it is your job to portray? What kind of artist puts himself above the audience? Why do so many seem to prefer worship over love?
We like fame in this country. When I was an actor, I dreamt of fame. In that field, it was the highest level of success. Not only that, it would validate my existence, all my life choices. When I did not achieve much worldly success as an actor, my sense of self worth suffered, but it did not completely tank. Though I may have neglected certain parts of my life for my art, I never hid in it. I never ran away from my responsibilities and the messes I had made. I never saw my work as a justification to use outsiders as food or to perpetuate some narrow minded master plan against my enemies.
When I am at my happiest as a writer and performer, it is when I know that I have chosen a life of service. When I am in balance in that life, I am at peace and I always have everything I need. That’s a good life. And like any good life, it starts with love, it starts with truth. Breath first, then creation…So simple, why do we so easily forget?
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee.