Dat Heart o’ Mine

My first year in Los Angeles, I looked up an actor friend. A couple years before I’d visited him at UCLA and he talked of his joy and finally being able to study to be an actor. By this time, he was graduated and I’d lost track of him.

I knew he was still in LA, and I remembered his passion for acting. So I looked for his name in on-going plays. I went to see him, surprising him from the audience of one of his performances. We had a drink after and talked about his ambition.

He wanted to act. Well, let us be clear. He wanted to make a living as an actor.

There is a big difference.

A new friend, a musician, talked about how she never wanted to get a job she liked because that would be “giving up.”

I don’t know about that. If it’s your dream, if this art is what you are meant to do, then it will be done regardless, won’t it?

There is a story attributed to Mark Twain:

A man went to heaven and saw St. Peter at the Pearly gates. He asked St. Peter “Who was the greatest general of all time? Napoleon? Alexander the great?”

Peter points and says “That man over there.”

“But I knew that man! He was no general, he was a laborer.”

St. Peter replies, “That’s right, my friend. He was the greatest general, but he didn’t perform that role.”

Part of me calls bullshit.  We are what we are and we find a way to be that wherever, don’t we?

Don’t we?

I guess it is a fear a lot of people share, that we aren’t living up to who we could be.

This article I write, my weekly wonder, is an expression of that. I have a dozen ideas for what I could write each week. This week, I started three versions of what it would be.

I finished just this one.

Like that laborer who never launched a military maneuver, I had an idea and failed.

All except this last time, and the only definition of success for this one is completion. In my head those first two versions were genius.

And this is the one I finished. Win by default.

I listened to a lecture this week, a woman talking about a group of entrepreneurs. “Would you still do this if you won the lottery?”

It was their business, their soul’s work. They searched their hearts and said yes.

I know I would still write if I won the lottery. Probably more. I’m doing it because it’s who I am. And my actor friend, I have to wonder how much he was an actor if he could conceive of stopping.

Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly.

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