The Spark of Flame

“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion.   You must set yourself on fire.”    ~Arnold H. Glasow

I worked with a friend recently that I hadn’t seen in almost 2 years.   He’s one of those people you meet that you find a quick resonance with, and you seem to skip ahead of the acquaintance phase, directly into friendship.   He and I are both from the same city in Texas, we are around the same age, we both are striving towards making a living as actors, and on this night, we were working together as bartenders.

During the course of the evening, we had plenty of time to trade stories of where our individual journeys have taken us, since last we saw each other.   Mine has been well-documented here, and his has been spectacular in its own right.   Around a year ago, he booked a prominent speaking role in a major “tent-pole” summer blockbuster, directed by one of the handful of directors who are nearly as well-known as the A-list stars their films help create. Getting a role like this is the kind of game-changing event every actor dreams about – and a good-hearted guy like this deserves nothing less.   Knowing the immense gravity of this career accomplishment, an obvious question floats to the surface: what the hell is he still doing here?

Don’t get me wrong: there is value to be found in any job, and I understand the strong desire we all share to get our bills paid.   And there is no higher, more noble profession one could ask for than that of being a bartender 😉 .   But I know his love of acting as I know my own.   It’s his calling as it is mine. And after reaching a very significant milestone in the pursuit of doing what he loves, something seemed a bit out of place – something was missing.

He went on to share more details of his acting pursuits, how he currently had an agent and a manager on his team, and how he was now auditioning every day for one thing or another.   Now that alone is an amazing position to be in as an actor.   Even with a motivated team at your disposal, it is the rare actor that can say they are auditioning – that is, requested to come in and audition – on a daily basis.   In fact, he’s the only actor I’ve spoken with to find themselves in this spot.

But it gets better.   He routinely gets called back (the second tier of auditions) and often is put “on avail,” meaning he is essentially one of a handful or less of finalists for that particular role.   But he hasn’t been booking those roles.   Over time, after a year of this, he had begun to look for reasons and patterns for why the other people were regularly being chosen instead of him.   His morale was being negatively impacted by the reality he found himself in. He had lost sight of the joy in his calling – our calling, and he was currently struggling with the challenges of finding and holding a new bartending job.

And I get that. I really, really do.   My previous decade in LA was practically based on my own disillusionment in the same pursuit of a stable acting career – and I had not been even close to the position he is currently in.   But that was then.

I’ve begun paying attention to how much I may be struggling in any given endeavor, in my continuing pursuit of refining my thoughts and vibration.   Our emotional guidance system is there for us all of the time, so why not really make the most of it?

I find that anything that is a struggle feels frustrating – seems obvious right?   And it doesn’t matter whether this struggle is in trying to make certain relationships work, pushing ourselves to get something done, or motivating ourselves to do something we don’t feel like doing, it all feels bad; it all feels draining.   At the same time, I’ve noticed that when ever we are doing something in line with our passions, that we are energized in the doing of them, and that hours can pass without our realizing it.

I have only begun to pay attention to my feelings with this heightened degree of focused awareness, and I’ve found that the intuitive guidance we are constantly receiving is astounding: “This is too much work – try something else.   This feels bad – focus elsewhere.   This feels fantastic – more of this please!”

So now, rather than push my way through a frustrating task like I used to do in the past, now I use that feeling as my indicator to stop and redirect elsewhere.   Frequently, I find the solution I was looking for very soon after.   And if I find myself feeling passionate in the midst of doing something, I will frequently let go of all other concerns for the time being to savor every bit of that passionate-feeling moment.

This friend of mine in particular has been riding a massive wave of opportunity but had taken his eyes off of the joy of surfing it to worry about all the other surfers out there with him.   So consequently, they were the ones  that were catching the big waves.

I can’t blame him.   The odds and statistics of establishing a successful acting career are daunting.   The realities of the business can be very harsh, especially in the early stages.   But no one decides they want to be an actor because of odds or statistics.   Some are drawn to it in hopes of what it might allow them to have, be it fame, fortune, or all the things that come with these. But for people like my friend and I, it is being an actor – the joy of doing all the things that acting allows us to experience – that far outweighs the things we can buy afterwards.   We do it for the love of doing it.   We do it because we have been called to do it.

From my experience, I know that our rendezvous at this particular moment in time was exactly as it should be: I am asking for greater knowing of the career conditions he is currently experiencing, and he is in a place of missing that last piece of the puzzle to launch himself into the stratosphere – the willingness to focus only on the joy of every moment of acting he comes across, and to filter out anything and everything that distracts from that.

In wanting to help him get back on track, I further strengthen what I know for myself, and can see from his experience that I can bring much more clarity and specificity as to the details of my day-to-day career happenings.   Seeing what is possible from a friend’s experiences makes asking for it for ourselves easier.   It becomes that much easier to see ourselves in that picture, and in that process, tune our own vibration to begin attracting that as well.   As Abraham Hicks puts it,

“Once your focused attention has sufficiently activated a dominant vibration within you, things – wanted or unwanted –will begin to make their way into your personal experience.   It is law. “

I’ve come to realize that to say my perspective puts me in the minority is somewhat of an understatement.   But I take comfort in the fact that the truths that I live by are there in all of us – and we can choose to embrace them fully by living the joy of each moment, or we can allow ourselves to be distracted by the negative side of “reality.”   It’s entirely up to us; no one else can choose for us.   And we can change our minds any time, and start from where we are, right now.

Nothing gives me greater happiness in my personal relationships than to see the light of the joy-based perspective I have embraced beaming forth from the eyes of a friend who “gets it,” and has begun to see their own lives profoundly shift for the better as I have mine.   It is my hope for my friend (as it is for all who come to this message) that he lets go of the distractions and finds that spark, whether here or elsewhere, that re-ignites his passions, and sets his own life ablaze once again.