Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fidelity is the Key to Success

Mickey Rooney showing us what a Frustrated Actor looks like.

He was the brother of a friend of mine and he lived in Chicago.  He had moved there to pursue his career in show business.  He discovered that while there may be more opportunities for actors in Chicago than there were in St. Louis, there are also a lot more frustrations.  In St. Louis, in any given week, there might be five auditions - four of them for jobs that pay nothing, and one for a job that will pay maybe $20 for a six-show run.  In Chicago, in any given week, there might be 25 auditions - but 20 will be for jobs that pay nothing and 5 will be for jobs that pay maybe $20 for a six-show run.

And he was frustrated.  He was angry.  He was bitter.  And he was a comic improv actor - and there's nothing uglier and sadder in show business (next to stage mothers) than a frustrated, bitter comic improv actor.

For years he had been plugging away.  He somehow managed to get his troupe on a Local Access Cable channel.  Well, you can imagine how successful that was - even in the 1980's when some people might have (accidentally) watched Local Access Cable TV channels.

He was convinced that this was the move that would launch his career and get him noticed.  And of course he was miserable and angry when that didn't happen.

I have lost touch with him over the years.  He may, like many actors, have given up and gotten a day job.  Or maybe he made it big in some way.  But if he did, I can't help imagining that he's still miserable and angry because he has not made it bigger.

I have been very blessed in that I have supported myself and my family all of my life by working in show business - except for a brief stint of delivering flyers door-to-door (I referred to myself back then as an advertising distribution specialist).  But my goal has never been to be noticed.  

My goal has always been to do good work.  And once I realized I could (if I were clever enough and worked hard enough) make good money by doing good work, then that became the goal: do good work that people desire to see, so that they'll pay you what you're worth.  That's it.  Of course this meant I had to stop auditioning for others and begin producing and marketing my own material, but that was just part of the package.

And the funny thing is that while I have not made it big (as has my former Upstage Productions actress Jenna Fischer) and while my EWTN work is sometimes only noticed by people who are convinced that Pope Paul VI was kidnapped and replaced by an evil surrogate who looked exactly like him except for his ear lobes (an EWTN fan once sent me a long and detailed letter "proving" that), somehow this modicum of fidelity that I've given my vocation has led to a career in which I am doing exactly the thing I was made to do and which apparently no one else in the entire universe is doing: touring the country playing all the parts in comedy shows I write and getting paid well for it, while writing an unusual blog about Faith and Acting on the side.

And so, frustrated single Catholic friends, keep this in mind.  Don't focus on the outcome; focus on being true to the moment that is right in front of you.  That's the key not only to fidelity to both kinds of vocation (the vocation of marriage-priesthood and the vocation of one's career), but also the key to success.


Anonymous said...

Thank you. As a middle-aged single Catholic (never married; never even dated seriously), it sometimes gets frustrating for me. But my job is to pay attention right now to God; not wish God did something for me. It's hard, but I'm trying.


Christie Gregor said...

Exactly! I always keep that in mind when dating. I try to be really present in the moment and savor the blessing of life and a possible connection. Nothing more. Just pure gratitude and awareness of the here and now.

Christie G