Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Olympian Gratitude.

Last week was a blur and I posted something from a few weeks ago to tie you over until I could get my thoughts together for a more recent post. 

My life has changed drastically in one week. 

I think it started with getting sides for a new project and feeling a deep almost electric connection with the text. I read it and immediately thought, "This is mine. No one else could play this." 

This may sound arrogant or cocky, but it truly came out of positive visualization. I have been listening to Darren Hardy's The Compound Effect, in combination with reading The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and both men speak highly about the benefits of visualizing goals. 

Having that magnetic connection to a script was something I had never felt before. I wanted this role with every fiber of my being, and was more than willing to work my butt off for two days and nail the self tape that was required of me. 

Before receiving the sides for said role, I had been prepping for my Book of Mormon audition that was taking place in Toronto on Monday. They were looking for replacements for Broadway and two separate National tours. For the last six weeks this had been my focus, Susan and I had been working diligently on getting my voice to the agile state it needed to be for the role of Elder Cunningham. During our last session Susan brought some brilliant insights into the work for me; She spoke about not going in to audition but to be present with myself and allow the panel to see me live the story that I was telling. She also spoke about focusing on being true to myself and truthfully feel what I was doing. This would result in it not feeling like an audition for anyone, it will feel as though someone came in and was alive, rather than filling a cookie cutter role. 

Throughout our lesson we continually brought up the similarities between an actor and an Olympian; All of us have the ability to run fast, but only a few people have the ability and stamina to run at the speeds and precision that Olympians do. The time and training that they put into those races is truly superhuman. Acting is no different, in my mind, it requires constant physical and mental maintenance, through eating well, exercise and dedicating ones life to developing empathy for the human race. This may seem like an extreme comparison but it makes so much sense to me. To truly play someone different requires my body to become an empty vessel and let their spirit and experiences inhabit me. If I show any doubt, the spirit will be unable to use me effectively. 

An Olympian can make or break a career in milliseconds, so it is imperative to give themselves the preparation and focus time they require to center themselves and visualize the goal. Acting is the same. It's easy to memorize lines and say them in front of people/camera. It's all the work that goes into a complete transformation that makes it truly remarkable. Preparation is key, and I'm slowly establishing my routines. This is my life and I can either use my time wisely by keeping my instrument at competitive levels or simply letting it all fall to the waste-side and waiting for the role that requires no work to come along. 

I have to think long term, not impulsively. 

I want to run the race because I love to run, not because I want first place. That being said, I want to train my body so that I am capable of swooping in and nabbing first place if I so desire.

I read a fantastic article about craftsmanship on one of my favourite websites, The Art of Manliness. It spoke about applying the principles of great craftsmanship to ones daily life. Here are some passages that really rang true for me: 

With any project the craftsman creates twice: first mentally and then physically. Before he sets chisel to stone or hammer to wood, the craftsman has already created the work in his mind. In other words, he plans how to bring the object from the rough materials and tools before him. 

A good craftsman has the patience to stay with frustrating work, even when it takes longer than he originally thought. He avoids frustration by living by the following maxim: When something takes longer than you expect, stop fighting and embrace it.

The Craftsman willingly opens himself up to teaching, criticism, and judgment from his peers and clients because that’s the only way he can improve. He doesn't take criticism personally because the craftsman is more concerned about doing good work than feeling good about his work. A true craftsman understands that nobody cares about how he feels about his work. In the end he knows that the only question that matters is: "Does it work?"

I have started journaling and tracking all of my daily activities, from what I eat and how much to the amount of time I spend on Facebook every day. It has been eye opening to see all that I can accomplish (or not accomplish) in a day. By tracking it, I can see what holds me back or propels me forwards in achieving my goals while also bringing attention to the areas of my life that need improvement. After doing this for a week I have already seen the positive effects on my creative mind as well as my time management. Along with tracking I have been taking time every day to think about all the positive things that happened to me in the last 24 hours. This positivity has made me feel extreme gratitude for all the people in my life who are constantly supporting me and providing me with the connections that I crave. 

When I open my eyes to all the beauty the world has to offer, that is all I see. 

I know at this point some of you may be thinking that I drank too much of the Kool-Aid, but I assure you by changing my view of the world and starting to look inward, my life has begun to shift drastically. It has been wonderful to simply look at random people and see something beautiful about them, it reminds me of how unique and special we all are. 

Cue Louis Armstrong’s version of "What a Wonderful World". 

I have started a new adventure in a new place, surrounded by new people and I cannot wait to take advantage of their knowledge and experience. I want to be the most respectful sponge, outside of Spongebob Squarepants, and take advantage of every opportunity that is given to me. I have worked hard to be where I am and this new phase of my life is an opportunity to put all the aforementioned steps into motion. 

This is my time.  

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