Failure. Disappointment. Depression. Anxiety. Hot sauce that must have all the scollville units which I’m starting to believe is a metaphor for an army of fiery little microorganisms that chisel away everything in the way of your digestive track and explode when they exit your body.
All of the above can stop your forward progress. I just dealt with it. Every Tuesday I attempt to do Stand Up comedy, maybe 50 yards from where I live.
I couldn’t bring myself to go yesterday. I wasn’t anxious, depressed, or even stuck on the toilet from excessive hot sauce indulgence.
Disappointed. That’s what I felt.
The work wasn’t done. There was very little preparation from one week to the next. So to get up and spout the same “jokes” that I had done last week without any laughs, why do it again? To get better at “stage presence” or work on my “delivery?”
We all know what Einstein said the definition of “insanity” is, so why get up there and do it again?
I was disappointed in myself. I knew better. The work should have been done throughout the week. A little bit of preparation each day and I would have been more than ready to step onto that stage, into that arena of laughs or awkward silence.
- acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate.
Well, doesn’t seem like I was being consistent in my work, which doesn’t seem like it would be FAIR to myself, the art form of Stand Up, and the people in the crowd (I know, I’m twisting the definition slightly, just bear with me). I have been going every Tuesday and pushing myself through the anxiety and stage fright because I love comedy and have always loved it. It was my turn to start giving back to it.
To be fair to your progress in any art, you have to do the work. Last night was a slap in the face. A reminder. Nothing you do makes progress unless you work at it. And who wants to ALWAYS suck? You may come to terms with it, but deep down, that will chip at your soul. I’d like to suck less, please.
Frankly, I got too silly, played too much, and I became the grasshopper that froze in winter. Lucky for me, spring comes next Tuesday.
The ant, on the other hand, I compare to this 15 or 16 year old kid that started going to those open mic nights the same time I did.
He’s amazing. I swear, we’ll see him up on the big stage one day. But not because he picked up a guitar and strummed when it was convenient. He loved it, so he worked at it. He’s clearly worked at it for years and he’s giving back to the art of music and we all get to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
We’re entitled to the labor, but not the fruits. The whole “Find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” quote (no clue who said it), is utter bullshit. I’m sorry, I’ve done many things I love, but chasing dollar signs as your sole source of motivation is a poor mindset to develop along the way.
I was a martial arts instructor for almost a decade. The pay was low, the hours were extremely long, and the stress was high. But I loved martial arts and always will. I felt if I kept showing up, working hard, listening to the boss, things would get better. Unfortunately, I had to step away. I was not truly in control of my destination. I could get proficient at the arts, but as a career, I was not in the driver’s seat – I was a soldier and had to listen to the commander…regardless of what I was told. That’s the cost of mixing what you love with business. But many lessons were learned along the way. I did not fail at what I did – I learned.
Art is love.
The intention of the practice is to become better each time you connect with it – NOT to focus on the fruits of the labor ($$$$$). Do you think Led Zepplin focused on their skillset to become rich? They’d never have become who they were and what they’re remembered for. No one remembers their money, but we all slow danced to “Stairway to Heaven” in 8th grade.
They wanted to be great at what they did. Money was a biproduct. We, as the consumer, put the dollar value on their product. Sure, they may have gotten wrapped up in the confusion of fortune (I have no idea, but look at Mike Tyson…), but that’s something else entirely. They did not arrive at their destination of greatness by chasing money signs. They worked… hard. And it was because they loved it.
I’m sure you could ask any professional standup comedian, professional fighter, professional writer, and they’ll tell you they find days where they don’t want to work on their craft, travel, or even perform. There is “work” in all art forms. But you do the work for the love of the game. Practice, build, create – not because some authoritative figure told you to, but because you owe it to whatever craft you love.
I guess we just need to stay consistent and stay disciplined. Go to the gym when you’d rather lay in bed. Eat the salad and drink the water when the bacon cheeseburger and beer tempt you. Practice when you know you should.
If you love something, work at it. You may never be the next Jimi Hendrix, Joe Rogan, or Tolstoy, but who gives a shit? Fame and fortune sound glorious, but what will help you sleep at night is knowing you put in the work and you gave to what you love. If they don’t clap, don’t laugh, or don’t read your book – it’s okay. Continue to work at it, but not for the critics. Fuck the critics. We can’t all be Tom Brady (42 and still in the MVP race? GOAT!). Do it for the love of the craft, the love of the game… your soul and those that have walked the path before you will thank you.
Obstacles are okay. Failure means you’re trying – you’re in the arena. Dust yourself off, learn, regroup, come back stronger.
Thank you for reading. When I write, I do it not only for the reader, but for myself. We are all simultaneously in the Driver’s and Passenger’s seat. Be a navigator, help yourself get to the destination you want.