Mar 24 2017

It’s all an act

I’m not sure that acting is something for a grown man to be doing.

American actor Steve McQueen was born on this day in 1930 (died 1980).

Oops.

Of course, McQueen made a few dozen films and a significant number of television appearances as an actor.

On a side note, I don’t think I had realized how young he was when he passed.

I’m not currently acting, but I remain actively involved in the theatre, either through working with writing groups, or ushering, or just seeing performances.

It’s funny, and I’ve talked about this, I chose 2017 to be the year I worked on writing and health, and I have, but the theatre opportunities in terms of acting, directing, and producing just seem to be multiplying.

I’m not sure if I’m supposed to resist the temptation or embrace the blessings.

Probably somewhere in between so that I don’t burn out in a blaze of glory. After all, what’s the purpose of that if you can’t guarantee the cameras are running?

I was never destined to have a career like Steve McQueen. It’s a true story that I didn’t pursue acting and theatre right out of college because I wasn’t the leading man type.

Okay, to be completely honest, I wasn’t pretty enough.

Do I wonder what life would have been like if I’d taken that path? Sure I do. But it does me no good to dwell on it.

Likewise, as I’ve said, with the writing. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if, just out of college, or even before graduation, I had acknowledged the fact that I’m a writer.

I mean, I did some writing in college and was good at it. I worked on the newspaper and edited the yearbook.

For whatever reason, I took a different path post graduation.

Again, do I wonder what life might have been like? Sure I do. In fact, on days like I’ve been having at the day job, I think about that a lot.

But I can’t change the past. Instead I try to learn from it.

In other words, be nice to me or you’ll end up in my book…perhaps briefly as a chalk outline…

I digress.

In a perfect world I’d be writing full time at the beach and be a moderately successful actor on the side.

I don’t want to burst your bubble, but it’s far from a perfect world.

On a side note, if you’re casting A Christmas Carol, I’d be perfect as Marley because I totally have a handle on the chains I forged in life.

Again, I digress.

I sort of think what McQueen meant with that quote was that he was having too much fun being an actor. I agree, it’s fun. But I’m sure McQueen would have also told you that it’s a lot of work.

Speaking of a lot of work, we’ve hit the weekend again and I’m off to work in an amusement park.

Sure I’m working seven days a week and most evenings. But it’s something I get to do. I stay in the day job because it allows me to do the fun stuff.

Whether it’s acting, or writing, or working a second job we all have to do the grown-up things.

And that’s okay.

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Mar 23 2017

Liberty and Death

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

On this day, American revolutionary, Patrick Henry, later to be the first governor of Virginia, gave his famous speech at St. John’s Episcopal Church, right here in the good old RVA.

That’s Richmond, Virginia in case you needed to know.

I’m not going to take this analogy too far, but let’s just say that I’ve done more than my fair share of barge totin’ and bale liftin’ in recent years.

That’s another story.

I mean sure, as I’ve talked about, we all have our struggles.

But face it, none of us in this country are currently facing anything like what Patrick Henry and his compatriots faced when they decided it was time to declare independence.

No matter what you think of our current President, you really can’t draw (too many) parallels with King George.

We’re just not going down that road at all.

But when I think of Patrick Henry and the courage of his convictions, I wonder if I would indeed have that much faith, that much courage, that much strength to carry out my convictions in the face of what would be almost certain death.

Then I remember that I get antsy if the Starbucks line is too long.

Remember the comedian who said during the first Gulf War that the residents of the Middle East were dodging bombs and we thought it bad because we couldn’t park in the white, no loading zone at the airport?

I’m not saying we’re a bunch of wimps. Well…maybe a little.

I think the thing about the human spirit is that it rises to the challenges of the day. Sure we have it a lot easier but we’re not without challenges.

That’s why I try to understand when people freak out over things I think may not be such a big deal. It’s all perspective and it’s all what we’re dealing with at the moment.

That being said I do think that on a percentage basis there are a lot fewer of us these days who would take a bold stance like Patrick Henry.

Thank God for the men and women who wear the uniform so that the rest of us are free to be couch potatoes.

I’m very serious. Thank you.

And, thank you Patrick Henry, for standing up on that day some two-hundred and forty-two years ago and fanning the flames of liberty.

Not quite so many years ago on this day in 1929 my father was born. I would regret going through this day and not mentioning that here.

He died at age 49, ten years younger than I am now. I was 20 at the time. I have now lived almost twice as long without him as I did with him.

I still miss him.

It’s particularly poignant this year after losing my stepfather in October. He was my stepfather for more than thirty years and my uncle before that. If you know the story, you know. It’s not quite a southern thing.

I was reminded this week that, on this same day in 1983, I lost another uncle on my father’s birthday. My father and my stepfather both defended our freedom in the military, and my uncle James spent his entire adult life in service to his country.

All three men inspired me. All three men challenged me.

I didn’t have long enough with any of them.

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