“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The HARD is what makes it great.” — Jimmy Dugan, A League of Their Own
So, I had already chosen this week’s topic (I actually chose it during my recent teaching gig in Orlando, because that’s where I said the words and then thought, “Ooh! That’s a column.”) and was ready to add the finishing touches on this article when A League of Their Own popped on basic cable. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, this movie is one of my Stop Downs.
When we got to the “The HARD is what makes it great” line in act three, I said, “Hey! That’s this week’s column!” And that’s sort of true. But also sort of not. Because really, what I’m writing about here is that “it’s all hard.”
Here. Go with me on this.
I was advising an actor who was talking about how hard this whole “moving to LA” thing was feeling. Stress from the family. Doubts introduced by well-meaning friends. Leaving behind a decent job and a network of support. Choosing to follow a dream, thousands of miles away, alone (or at least, starting over on the building up friendships and connecting with a community).
I said, “Living your dreams is hard. Moving across the country alone is hard. Finding (and keeping) a good survival job is hard. Starting over is hard. The thing is, that’s where most people stop the list. And here’s what you need to know. NOT living your dreams is hard. Staying in a place just because it’s where all of your relatives are located is hard. Rolling around on a plastic pad behind a desk at a passionless job because it pays well and provides security that others in your life seem to value is hard. Staying stuck and wondering what would’ve been if you HAD chosen to live your dreams is hard. So, PICK YOUR HARD.”
And that’s the whole point I want to make this week: We get to pick our hard.
There’s no one course of life that’s easier, predictably, before we start out on its path. We can’t know what twists and turns any of our life’s choices will present to us. Just as we can’t take two routes to our vacation destination simultaneously, we can only drive the road we’re on, and there are times that road is going to be hard. But just as some folks prefer the “hard” of freeway traffic to surface streets, some artists prefer the “hard” of pursuing their dreams, unapologetically, sometimes alone, but focused and committed, to the “hard” of a regular paycheck, health insurance, a 401K, and “casual Fridays.”
When it gets hard — and it will — just remind yourself that you get to pick your hard. Me? I couldn’t pick anything other than a creative career. I love all of this, especially the moments when I’m working so hard I can’t see straight. Because I remember that the option ISN’T that there’s something out there for me that’s not hard, it would just be hard in a different way.
Bad audition? Stuck on a plot point in a script you’re writing? Released from avail after being sure the gig was yours? Dropped by your agent just when things were starting to pick up? Edited out of the final cut of the film you told everyone you’d shot? Told you’re too old or too skinny or too ethnic or too anything else for whatever particular role you really want to play? Snubbed in the casting room? Hating your reel after having spent a ton on it? Missing your family back home?
Yep. It’s all hard. The only thing harder is not pursuing your dream.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001452.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.