SOMETHING I’M FINDING interesting is how much like my normal, everyday life this quarantine-like existence has been so far. I never realized how much time I actually spend by myself. Turns out, I spend a great deal of time working alone, hardly seeing anyone but Watson and my wife (whenever she’s home from work) for semi-long stretches at a time.
I’m certain this isn’t true of all introverts, but maybe some feel, as I do, that they wish they weren’t so introverted. I know I don’t want the anxiety and worry that comes with feeling perpetually out of place. I want to be comfortable around people. I want to strike up a conversation without feeling like Super Dork (one of the less well-known members of the Marvel Universe).
I think I’ve actually become more introverted as I’ve gotten older, to tell you the truth. I also think I might understand people a little differently now than I did half my life ago.
I bet a lot of people can say they understand people differently when they get to the point where they have more years behind them than in front of them. Because math.
Because of experience, too. There’s just no substitute for it. You live, you learn, you grow. That’s how I understand the game to be played.
The most anxiety-ridden moments of my life involve interacting with strangers. And yet, I crave human connection. I need it like I need air and water. I desire it. I long for it. I don’t know how I would live in a world where we don’t touch each other anymore. I don’t like to think about things like that. I’d rather be working.
When someone asks me what I do for a living, I usually just say “I’m an actor” (sometimes I throw *writer* in there, too. It depends on what type of project I’m working on at the time). The conversation usually goes in a different direction after that.
“Do you know anyone famous?”
“I met Kevin Hart once.’”
“That’s so cool! What’s he like?”
“He’s really nice. He took selfies with everyone.”
“Did you get a picture with him?”
“I don’t know.”
That’s about the gist of it. My point is, nobody’s ever really asked me to explain what I actually do in my job.
“Oh, you’re an actor? So, what do you DO, exactly?”
“Well, I try my best to become somebody else who’s going through something significant in his life while a bunch of people watch…I see you’re confused…Let me put it this way: To the best of my ability, I practice being someone else until I’m prepared to go in front of a group of strangers and be that person instead of the one you see before you. Does that make sense?”
That’s basically how it goes. Not those exact words, though. People usually aren’t that interested in me, if I’m honest. They’re just interested in their idea of what I do.
I spend a good portion of my working life trying to be someone I’m not, and while that all might have started out years and years ago as a means of escape for a boy with an imagination and a love for stories, it has become an indispensable practice for a middle-aged man trying to figure out who he is and how he might belong in the world.
I work in “Make Believe,” and in the acting of another person’s life—no matter how small or large the role— I have learned more and more about what it means to be human.
The theater is where we plant seeds in the garden that is the hearts of every human being. Those seeds are ideas and questions about who we are and who we want to be.
When the seeds take (and you can feel it happen; sometimes you can even see it and hear it happening), it is a miracle to be a part of.
It is in this very ground, the soil where we plant for others to experience, that I continue to learn about the human I want to become.
I’ve learned that listening is often more important than talking; that taking chances is imperative and requires guts; that failing isn’t just a part of the process, it IS the process. You absolutely cannot succeed without failing first.
Nothing is ever perfect, but at some point, it has to be finished (I definitely have more to learn when it comes to knowing when something is finished).
In the midst of this disruption we’re all experiencing (because we’re all in this together, if I’m picking up the subtle social media messages correctly), I’ve still been driving for Lyft.
Not much. Just some in the afternoon/early evenings. I feel like it’s something I have to do; I don’t know why. I’m only out a couple of hours a day, but I somehow feel compelled to be available.
I take a lot of folks to work or to the grocery store or home from work after restocking everyone else’s essentials.
I dropped a young man off at his home after a long shift as a nurse at a local hospital yesterday afternoon. He lived on Merlin Street. We could use some magic right about now, I thought, as I pulled up to the curb in front of his house.
“Thank you, so much, my friend,” I said. “Be well.”
“Thank you. Have a good night! Be safe!” he answered, closing the door and stepping onto the sidewalk.
I watched him walk up to his front door. He put the key in and walked right in like it was any old Saturday.
But, it wasn’t.