I am on a Megabus heading out of the city for a much needed week of repose. It’s funny how once you begin a vacation, you can’t imagine your life without one. I am thinking now that if I didn’t have this chance to leave the city and recharge I simply wouldn’t survive. The fact is, I surely would survive and if I wasn’t on this bus I’d be gearing up for another audition or heading to the restaurant like any other day. The opportunities to relax and enjoy life which I am lucky enough to afford should not be taken for granted, and at this moment I feel lucky.
Yesterday, before working my last shift of the week at the restaurant, I was trying to remind myself of the connection between being a server and being an actor — how serving someone a meal can be the same as serving someone a story. At 4:45 p.m. I got off the subway at Union Square and walked north to 18th street, all the while promising myself I’d make tonight an experiment in finding the art in fine dining service.
Fast forward to 11:00 pm. Final seating was a half hour ago and I was just handed 5 more tables in my already crowded section. My co-workers were being cut left and right around me and my workload, rather than dwindling as you hope it will at this time of night, seemed ever expanding. I had been hustling all night and it had taken its toll on my body and my resolve. My promise to connect my work and my art seemed a faded memory, like the dream I had as a kid of being a pro basketball player — it simply wasn’t going to happen. The mental preparation I did on the walk to work was like practicing my lay-ups on the shaky, free standing hoop my father set up in the driveway of our Indiana home. I used to dread anyone I know driving by and seeing me bank the ball sloppily off the backboard in a vain attempt at emulating Scotty Pippen. Standing at dish pit, scraping half eaten halibut into a bowl of now soupy ice cream sundae, I dreaded anyone knowing that I was foolish enough to think I could find an artistic outlet in such activity.
This much I’ve learned in the past few months: I have to find a way to channel the stimuli around me into an artistic framework or I lose all sense of purpose. I have to make art all the time, otherwise the weeks will pass and a morning will come when I wake and realize I’ve gained nothing. Money in my bank account allows me to eat and pay rent and occasionally buy the jeans I like. That’s all well and good, but I have to get more than that from my job, I just have to. I’m needy that way. I’m not gonna last long doing this restaurant thing for money unless I can find a way to turn the dream of finding artistic fulfillment in the throwing away of uneaten halibut into a reality.
The easy things in life make shitty art. When you have an “easy” time rehearsing a play, it’s probably going to suck. Art is made in the struggle. The hardest things strived against in useful ways will always make significant art. There are only a few things I’ve done in my life harder than this. That’s a good sign.