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The funny thing about life is that the more you live it, the more your philosophies and guiding principles seem to change. Well, maybe they don’t change. Maybe they just continue to grow as you gather more information. Isn’t that part of the journey? Experiencing the world and letting it shape you. Aren’t we all just the sum of our experiences?
I’ve always said that you can’t give another person perspective; they have to pay for it. And believe me, perspective is expensive. You pay for it in blood, sweat, tears, heartache, victories, hard work, hangovers, one-night stands, and the occasional happy accident. But I guess even in saying these things I am trying to give you MY perspective. You should probably just ignore me and pay attention to what your own life is teaching you.
I say all of this to say that recently I’ve had a change of heart about something. I’m allowed to do that! Brace yourself people. You might think you’re ready for this. You’re not.
…maybe they’re not so bad…
In case you aren’t familiar with vision boards, click here.
My fundamental objection to VBs comes from the mystical, religious, hocus pocus, mumbo jumbo way that people talk about them. “Oh I put a vision board on my door so I had to see it every time I left the house and within 4 months I was living my dream.” Give me a fucking break. Well, I’m just going to take this moment to acknowledge that this was my own perspective limiting my acceptance of what was working for someone else.
As I look back on years past and look forward to the future, I just might be seeing value in the IDEA of a VB. I’m a matter of fact person. I don’t believe in mysticism. I don’t believe in the power of positive thinking. I DO believe in living with a sense of intention and purpose. Maybe what others are getting from VB-ing is a sense of purpose and deliberate action. I get it. It’s about reminding yourself every day what your goal is and making a conscious CHOICE to move in that direction.
Life happens quickly. You blink and suddenly a month has gone by and you haven’t done a single thing that has gotten you any closer to your goal. Bills are paid, emergencies come up, survival jobs eat into your time, drinks are had, hangovers are recovered from, and suddenly another year has whizzed by.
Maybe, JUST MAYBE, vision boarding isn’t all that bad. Don’t get me wrong. I still can’t cope with people who talk about it with a mystical, nut-job tone and I certainly won’t be cutting up any magazines and busting out the glitter pens and magic markers. Let me just say that from now on I will be living every single day with a focus and intention that I have been lacking.
A little more vision. A little less board. I’ll let you know how this pans out.
A variation on a theme written by Sara Kleinsmith, my oldest friend, here.
One of the perks of speaking your truth unapologetically is that you very quickly find out who your friends are. I like to think of it as the Bridget Jones School of Friendship.
Mark Darcy: I like you, very much.
Bridget: Ah, apart from the smoking and the drinking, the vulgar mother and… ah, the verbal diarrhea.
Mark Darcy: No, I like you very much. Just as you are
Now while I do believe this to be a superior way of life, you also have to accept that this comes with some pretty serious repercussions.
I share all of this to say that the benefits you receive from living this way, even with a small group of people, far outweigh the negatives. And here is why…
“It’s not what you know, but WHO you know.”
While I fundamentally agree with this statement, I do not agree with its generally cynical interpretation. I don’t believe that the ideas, skills, and talents you bring with you don’t matter. THEY DO. I also refuse to believe that this adage should motivate you to force your networking efforts. Should you chase the person or people you think can get you where you want to be? Yes. But you should also know when it’s not working for you. Maybe those people just don’t like you. Maybe they do like you, but only the version of you that you choose to show them to get ahead. If I have learned anything in life, it’s that refusing to acknowledge who you are and how you innately operate will breed resentment that multiplies faster than those two bunnies your mom got you for Easter back in ’92.
This is where sharing your truth comes in. Everyone knows that people like to work with their friends. Just go grab that shoe box full of Playbills you’ve been saving ever since your first trip to NYC back in high school. Well shit…the same director/choreographer/casting director DOES keep hiring the same actors. You have two courses of action. You can find out what these people all have in common and try to infiltrate their ranks with forced common interests and outlooks, OR you can simply put yourself into their orbit, be yourself, and see if anyone cares. Maybe they will! Maybe they won’t. We can’t all be friends. It’s just not realistic.
I’m not saying that you are screwed if you don’t click with the movers and shakers of today. Not by a long shot. I’m just suggesting that maybe your greatness will be realized in a different community. Not even a different industry. Just perhaps in a different circle. Find people who like to hear your ideas, who challenge you without putting you down, who will call you out on your inevitable bullshit, and who pick you up when you decide that you’d like to lay in the middle of 8th Ave and wait for a cab to finish you off.
The wonder of life is that you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I feel like I am just beginning to see my friends’ lives taking shape. I am bearing witness to their rise to greatness. And I don’t mean “kind of” greatness, I mean spectacular greatness. And you know who benefits from that? Me. Why? Because people like to work with their friends.
It really is WHO you know.
Recently the membership of AEA was called apathetic by its own president, Nick Wyman.
After posting this on my Facebook page I received an email pointing out how “…Nick Wyman is already setting up no change happening by making people feel bad about complaining…”
Isn’t the idea of being a part of a union that we are all UNITED? Lazy. Apathetic. Out of touch. If you say it to your brothers and sisters aren’t you also saying it to yourself?
If you know that your union is apathetic and you are its leader what are YOU doing to stir your constituency to action? It would seem that a few blogs, a handful of tweets, and a FB invite were really all it took.
Yes, we the proud members of Equity have been negligent and grossly uninformed for far too long. It is time that we begin educating ourselves. It is time to read and understand our contracts, riders, agreements, and handbooks. If you are in a show, it is not your deputy’s job to feed you the answers. It is your deputy’s job to voice your concerns and to mediate on your behalf. Take ownership. It is not your agent’s job to make sure that you have read your contract. You owe it to yourself. There is some great stuff in there. Free shipping? Housing standards? Travel regulations? Know what you are entitled to and do not hesitate to demand it. No one is advocating for you more than you should be. NO ONE.
Look, Executive Director Mary McColl agrees.
“As your Executive Director, I still think about ways the Union can advocate for you, but now I am also thinking about ways you can advocate for the Union. Creating a strong relationship that goes both ways will help you in your career, will help your brothers and sisters, and will strengthen the industry.
The association is only as strong as you, the members are. The staff can only succeed with your assistance…
…Looking forward, Equity needs you to stand up for yourself, stand up for your brothers and sisters across the country. Stand up for professional theatre.”
Now to continue on the subject of education…
I’m not saying that AEA is being run by the Illuminati and I’m certainly not saying that Blue Ivy is calling the shots. I’m not one for conspiracy theories (although I really did love those NATIONAL TREASURE movies) but a quick visit to Mary McColl’s LinkedIn page will tell you that she was once the Director of Labor Relations for the Broadway League. How does someone with a union busting past end up negotiating contracts on the other side of the table? It’s probably nothing, but again…EDUCATION.
It’s ok to be skeptical. It’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to demand answers. Don’t let anyone shame you out of speaking up. Not even the Eastern Regional Vice President of Actors’ Equity, Melissa Robinette.
And maybe most importantly, it’s ok to share what you learn. Knowledge is a communicable disease. Pass it on.