I have a penchant for the dramatic. A flare for searching for the worst. I believe by acknowledging the worst, I can deal with anything. I know this is flawed thinking. And yet, somehow saying out loud, “Well, the worst that could happen is…” But I don’t live in this maudlin place. It’s a springboard for me to jump over the fear. I’m told more often than not, “Ann, I love your laugh. It’s infectious.” Infections aren’t funny, unless you’re a mad scientist. Actors are usually the ones who tell me this, which weirdly makes sense. Actors are like a tribe of mad scientists.
I took a 10 year break from my tribe. At that time I believed the voices of other tribes. The “to be successful you must…” voices who say things like a) get a real job; b) buy a house; c) get married; d) have children. What they don’t tell you is the meaning: a) real job = supporting the dreams of someone/something else; b) house = debt (so you’ll have to stay in real job); c) marriage = a lot of work and compromise; d) children = sleep deprivation, a lot of work and compromise. When my son was a baby I would whisper in his ear, “You will be a compassionate man.” Stories of crazy young men somehow always involve their mother…
And with my family, I have found happiness, and stability, and love. But my well of joy dried up. (I told you at the beginning I have a penchant for the dramatic.) Money can buy you comfort, but not joy. As the Beatles said, “Money can’t buy you love.”
Ten years ago, I stopped acting. Seven months ago, I made the choice to join my tribe again. And like flipping a switch, I found my joy. Oh, I’ve stumbled. And I’ve questioned my choice (because of money – or the current lack there of). And the other voices balked. But my joy, the core of my true happiness is back. Acting & improv classes, writing my play about the year I lived in China, auditioning, and recently getting ever so close to booking a high paying job (which would SHUT the other voices). I’m so lucky I’ve had the chance to rejoin my tribe. And since I’m not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, I’ve gotten a “day job” that allows me to support my dreams. Even in Hollywood, the city of dreams, I’ve met many people over the past 16 years who chose a “real job” over a “day job.” They left their tribe for wealth, and even fame. But joy? Could that be why it seems there are so many unsatisfied people in the movie/tv business?
I’m so grateful my son’s old enough now to have conversations about his dreams, about the tribes he may one day want to join. I want him to grow up hearing his voice. That’s my job as his mother: to be brave enough to live in my own joy, so he will be brave enough to live in his.
Now when I put him to bed, I whisper in his ear: “You’ll grow up to be a successful person if you’re true to what’s inside your heart and brave enough to live your dreams.” He answers, “Yeah, yeah, mommy. The Jedis are planning a massive attack. Build the AP-A Attack Ship for battle. Load the Clone Troopers. Prepare the missiles…”
He’s giggling. I’m smiling. Joy.