Sunday, June 24, 2012

To My Fellow Graduates . . .

I had the occasion recently to attend a high school graduation.  I was there to see a group of young people I had had the pleasure of working with these past five years age instantly before my eyes.  It is to these fine people and grads around the world that this is addressed.

My own matriculation occurred some 21 years ago.  It was a proud seminal moment in my life, a crowning achievement, and the culmination of 13 years of schooling.  The thing is, I don't remember much of it.  The sands of time have shifted over the years, obscuring the details, dulling the memories.  To be honest, I'm not even sure that the remembrances I do have weren't aided by the photographs scanned after the fact.  The memories of the momentousness of my big night have faded into a recollection among others of things past.

The reason I mention all of this - aside from being a massive prick - is to actually give you some hope, believe it or not.  Right now, and over the past few weeks, amid the elation and relief, have likely been some tears and even a few fears (that would make an awesome band name).  While it's true that a huge and defining part of your lives is coming to an end, the rest of it is just starting.

Oh.  So that part's also causing you to shit the proverbial bed?

Well, what if I told you that a part of the rest of your life is just starting?  Up to this point in your life, you've likely been led to believe that your life is divided into three parts --> before high school, during high school, and after high school.  Right now the after high school part is looking pretty big huh?  Well it is.  It's freaking huge.  There's just so much to do.  The truth is, however, that the best part of living life is figuring out how you want to live it.  The trick is, you can't figure out what you want to do with it unless you go out and do.

Go.  Do.  Some of my newly minted friends may find that familiar.

I've told every class and every student I've ever taught and every actor I've ever directed that I'd rather see them fail spectacularly than succeed mediocrely.  What I mean is that in life, as in scene-work, you need to launch yourself at your goal with 100% of your efforts.  Without complete commitment, you will never succeed completely.

Success through failure.

Failure in life is unavoidable.  Lack of commitment is entirely avoidable.  If you want to be an actor, failure is 90% of your career, but it is also present in every other profession and in life.  If you don't fail, you will never understand what it takes to succeed.

Be passionate.

Don't do anything halfway.  Give everything your all.  I don't care what you want to achieve in life, but allowing your passions to guide you is a great way to lead a happy life.  The old adage reads: "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life."  But it runs deeper than that.  Show yourself to be passionate in every aspect of your life and you'll never have to wonder "what if?"

Lastly, realize that in all of this you only have one life.  Don't let anyone take that away from you by making if less than it deserves to be.  Don't allow others to dictate the terms of your life.  Don't waste the finite preciousness of your existence.  Be good to others.  Be honorable.  Be moral.  You are the sum of your experiences.  The better the experiences, the better the sum.  Some days those experiences are unmatched - yes, para-sailing with the Dalai Lama in the AM and dinner and strip Yahtzee with Carrie Underwood in the PM was pretty amazing, but so too was that solitary latte when you fell in love with Hemingway, or that time you laughed for an hour over some inane joke with a friend.

You're too young to get this yet, but life hurtles past you at break-neck speed.  Don't waste any of it needlessly beating yourself up or not following your dreams.  Jump in with both feet and squeeze every last drop of awesome out of it.  Don't let anything get you down longer than you have to.  Love yourself.  Be in love.  Be proud of yourself.  Your families are proud of you.  I'm proud of you.

Do great things.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Inspire Me He Said . . .

Inspire me, he said.

Craning to the Heavens before faltering and crashing to Earth.
Picking himself up and dusting himself off, he looked skyward once more.

Inspire me, he said.

Reaching for the unreachable, he slipped, tripped, plummeted, fell on his knees.
One foot and then the next.
Breathe the breath.
Think the thought.
Dream the dream and try again. 
Fight for the light.
Need the need.
The passion of the doomed.
The spinning rock gives you one go.
So go.
One chance.
You can't stop time, can't stop the turning.
You can only ride the ride.

Inspire me, he said.

This time was different.
He didn't look up, didn't look down, didn't look out.
He looked within.
Lightening flashed, thunder clapped.
And kept on clapping.
The thousand points of light burning away.
The fire inside.
The need.

Inspire me, he said . . .

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Looking Back At Myself

I like my lines.  Those etchings in my visage. Those ephemeral furrows of a life lived.  Of laughs had.  Of laughs made.  I'm proud of those little reminders of years ticked off.  Of experiences had.  Of battles won.  The older I am, the more I've survived.  Battle scars of wind and time.

I don't feel old.  Don't think old.  I feel as young as I ever did.  Just grumpier.  Just more placid.  More satisfied.  More unsatisfied with waiting for life to happen.  Go and live it.  The secrets of life seem less secretive now.  What is important so much more tangible.  Friends get divorced now.  Friends die now.

Each new stage of life comes more quickly now.  Races up to you and is gone again.  Before you saw it.  Before you knew it.  How did we get here?  How long ago?  Familiar refrains now.  Black and white long gone.  Absolutes vaporized into reality.  Seeing the depth beneath the water.  Like a graph turned 3-D.

Seeing the world more simply.  Beyond the politicking.  Beyond the superficiality of man made desire.  The rational reality of fact.  Simplicity at a higher level.  A Universe immune to us.  A world that outlives us.  Every one of us.  Being born to die. The understanding of which lets us live more fully.

Gaze into that glass.  Revel in the evidence of time.  Immemorial.  In memoriam.  Age is a gift denied so many.  Too many.  Live your life vicariously through yourself.  Be a living monument to the passed.  To the past.  But most of all -- relax.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


The tease of inspiration,
Of art held at pen's edge,
Struggling to stay distant,
Begging to be intimate
With the paper.
The pen drifts across the sheet
Willfully aware of its limitations,
Fearful of muddying the waters of inspiration
With so dull an instrument
As its own hand.
Guiding but not grasping
The depth of its own desperate genius.
Letting it happen of its own accord
As all art must for those without the gift
Of conscious talent.
Drifting, dancing,
Reckless but free.
Flitting and teasing
Gently and awkwardly caressing
Like a hand in the dark reaching for a body
Waiting for the electricity
To strike
To heave up and explode
Like the birth of a


Tripping light across the water
Bubbles burbling, gurgling,
Living and dying on the surface -
Scratching at the air
Before retreating to the depths of their own ego.
Existence passing below them as they
Transition willfully
Futile in their hope to move beyond the water's scope
The world they'd know if they could only
Know consciousness.
But alas . . .
Impossible for something that fails to exist
Longer than it does not.