In my youth, I fancied myself an actor. A degree in theater from Drake followed by a couple of modest successes with professional dinner theaters had me confident that I would be able to make a living someday.
Then, one day, I wandered into an audition in Chicago for some long forgotten musical. It was a “cattle call” where anyone and everyone was invited to try out. You bring a piece of music to sing and a short speech from a play and when your name is called, you go onstage and give it your best.
I had gone through this routine several times in my short career so I knew it was the longest of long shots. Usually, the director (or assistant director) cuts your song after a few bars with a very loud and impersonal “Thank you, we’ll be in touch,” and that’s it. You can wait 8-10 hours for a chance to be told in “theaterese” that you’re a chump for even trying so go home and get a law degree or something that will help you make a living.
Waiting in the back of the theater, I watched as one rather plain looking woman trudged to the middle of the stage and announced her name. The music started - “Another Hundred People” from Company was what she had chosen to sing - and when she opened her mouth, it was pure magic. It was incredible the talent, the verve, the sparkle that she put into the piece. The director let her sing a few bars more than anyone else - no doubt as mesmerized as I was with her ability - and then yelled “Thank you,” and that was it. The plain Jane trudged off the stage and back into pure obscurity.
It was then I realized that talent had little to do with “making it” in show business. That woman had as much talent as Barbara Streisand - perfect pitch, astonishing phrasing, and a vibrato that put a lump in your throat - but was destined to fail. Hard work, having a good agent, and making your own breaks counted more than any talent one might possess. That and a supreme, inner confidence in yourself to be able to withstand the constant barrage of people telling you that you are no good, that you can’t make it, that you are wasting your time. If you listen to the rich and famous actors, almost all of them have the same stories of struggling for 5, 10, even 20 years before realizing their goals.
It was then and there that I was cured of the acting bug and decided to take up my father on his offer to place me as an intern in the Sears government affairs office in Washington, D.C. I vowed never to regret that decision. But every once and a while (especially when I see some jamoke of an actor like Hayden Christiansen who can’t act their way out of a paper bag getting paid a gazzillion bucks in Star Wars), I think what might have been if I had the courage to pursue that dream.
Here I am 31 years later, I haven’t been on a stage since that day, pursuing another dream - that of making a living as a writer. What an odd and serendipitous set of circumstances that have brought me to the point where I can claim a modest success in going after that dream. I haven’t lit up the sky with my name or changed the world with my pen. But I know that my thoughts have caused some of you to re-examine your own beliefs just as many of the thoughts you have shared with me have forced me to rethink some of my own conclusions.
This coming year, I have resolved to write more - a lot more - than in 2008. I hope to write a book and contribute to other conservative publications. Where that will leave this blog, I am unsure. I am already fighting time constraints to get something on this site nearly everyday. But I suspect, as with many things, if it is important enough to you, you will find the time to do it. This site and you, oh, gentle readers, are indeed important to me. For that reason, I hope you stick with me during the coming year - a year that promises to be very interesting and productive.
The years are beginning to pass as if I were walking downhill now - not like when I was a kid and summer lasted forever as did the school day. Somewhere along the way in the last few years, I began to notice a blurring together of weeks and months. Wasn’t the election just yesterday? And it seems but an eyeblink has occurred since we celebrated the Fourth of July. Is the baseball season over already? Or are they getting ready to start up again?
A function of age no doubt. The big “Double Nickel” lands next month and I am discovering that I have less and less enthusiasm in “celebrating” birthdays. What’s there to celebrate? Getting one year closer to the end?
Yes, it’s true that you become more fatalistic the older you get.
But it is also true that with a modicum of good health and a song in my heart, I can still kick up my heels and enjoy life. And I fully expect 2009 to be full of joyful moments and laughter, and love and all the things that make life a fullfilling and rich experience for those of us lucky enough to live now, here in the United States.
And I hope the same for you.
Right Wing Nuthouse