when first asked to write this piece i was…hesitant. of the little i remember of my time at school, i regret much. my story is is certainly not one of juilliard's great successes. and yet. it is mine. for all its faults and flaws and that's worth sharing, no?
the white blank page before me disagrees. i've been unable to piece together...anything--about any of it. how does one sum up school or the subsequent three years in a nice and tidy pile of words? if the story is fragmented and messy how does one do it justice on the page?
i lost myself at school. that's the long and the short of it. i came to new york at the tender age of eighteen and while others marveled at skyscrapers and central park i acquainted myself with an unnamable sadness. in fact, sadness became my sole companion. perhaps i was too young. perhaps i should have attended a basic liberal arts college. perhaps, perhaps....truth be told it's remarkable i survived at all. but when graduation day finally came it was not a marker of success but a desperate gasp for air. i had failed. deeply, i had failed. and i had lost that little kernel of faith in my ability to act, and as it turns out, myself.
so i stopped. acting, that is. four years studying the thing and i couldn't stomach it. i know, i know, just what anyone wants to hear as they prepare to leave school or continue on in their education.
but here's the thing failure, as it turns out, proves fertile ground. and in the absence of acting i began to write. i simply meant to document. to put pen to paper to help me remember or preserve a period of my life for the future. but those words became a solace that slowly unfurled me--revealed me to myself. the great roadmap of the journey inward. and i found that all that i had learned at school in terms of sounds and shapes of vowels and the discrepancy between what is thought and what is known leant itself beautifully towards writing.
and writing, as it turns out, gave me back my life. does that sound terribly dramatic? well, it is. and it was.
there are moments i wish i could go back and do school all over again. as the person i am now. perhaps this time i'd be ready. perhaps this time i'd get it right. perhaps, perhaps. but i have to remind myself that few stories are truly linear. we twist around, circle back on ourselves, and when we're lucky, move forward. and that's okay. my story is not done. i left acting but whether or not i will return is a part of the story i've yet to write.
what i mean to say is this. if things don't go as planned, that's okay. (i know, i know, everyone says that.) how to tell you--to make you understand.
how about this: failure is essential. fail as much and as gloriously as you can. fail in little, seemingly inconsequential ways when no one is looking. or fail on a stage under the lights. the thing is, others might not see it as such. and given enough time, it might actually reveal itself as something else. because when the failure fades or passes or wears another mask it gives way to a joy so profound, it lies beyond imagination--even that special brand of imagination that juilliard encourages.
and joy, more than anything else i've ever known, is essential to art. (yes, joy).
sometimes i wonder how i'll look back on this period in my life--as a pause in the story? as a precursor to the next great plot twist? a time when i was tied to nothing, living anonymously in a small, sunlit apartment, way high north on the island of manhattan next to the train tracks and nestled against the river--and i think i'll be a better actor because of these days, a better person, if nothing else.