I relaunched this blog in August of 2018, and the last post I made was in…August of 2018. Casting my mind back to see what drove me to such a brief flash of courage, I remember it being an odd time in my life. I’d either just opened — or closed? — (or both since it was one weekend) The Merry Wives of Windsor with my homies in the Evansville Shakespeare Players, and I was starting to set my sights ahead on “professional endeavors” to ride the momentum of my work with Kentucky Shakespeare in Spring 2018. I had plans to offer acting coaching in the area, to pursue regional theatre work, and to try my hand at writing. The world was going to be my oyster! As far as I can tell looking back from where I am now, I’m 0 for 3. Or maybe I’m 1 for 3 considering I’m now an adjunct faculty member at USI? Whatever the score, I launched a future that was very shortly forgotten.
I do that a lot: dedicate myself to some new course of action, some new habit or means of doing things. Then I quickly abandon it for my old ways. Honestly, I think we all do that at different times in our lives. It’s one of the things you become aware of as you meditate. Your mind strays from the path of focus, and you’re taught to gently bring it back to the right place. My wake up call was not that gentle this time.
For centuries, people of various faiths, philosophies, and creeds have carried around “Memento Mori” – Reminders of their Own Coming Death. These aren’t meant as morbid reminders that nothing matters, they’re excuses to celebrate where you are and what you’re capable of doing in the present moment.
–My Memento Mori-
One thing I’ve discovered my Memento Mori doesn’t help me remember is how suddenly the death of others can occur. In the past two weeks, I’ve had two people relatively close to me pass away — both very suddenly. I’ve been to two visitations and seen two previously living human beings that I’ve spent time with lay motionlessly and expressionlessly as I say goodbye to them. That’s not something you can get over quickly, which also means it’s something that changes your relationship with your own existence. I’m now more aware than ever that one day I will be the one laying there while my friends and family say goodbye.
Fortunately, I’m a student of Stoic philosophy, and if I’ve learned one thing since I began practicing Stoicism, it’s that some things are outside of your control while others are totally in your control. In this case, my own death and the time at which it comes are totally outside of my control. What is in my control? What I chose to do with the time I’m fortunate enough to have.
What have I chosen to do with that time?
GET TO FUCKING WORK
Life is far too fucking short to not do what you love every single day. I love acting, reading, writing, and teaching. Life is far too fucking fragile to not share what you love with those you love every single day. You, dear readers, are the people I love. Full disclosure: For too long I’ve been bound to stories about how wonderful graduate school was, and what I could have been had I moved to Chicago. I’m telling stories about myself that keep me trapped in the past — they’ve poisoned me and turned me into some twisted husk of a person that is never fully present with you. As my friends and colleagues, you deserve better than that from me. You deserve the best “me” I can be because you are my people and my purpose on this Earth is to use my talents to serve you in any way that I can.
From this day forward, I vow to share my creativity with you. I pledge to act for you, write for you, record for you, teach for you.
All I ask in return is occasional feedback and a promise that you will do the same for yourself: find what you love and do it every fucking day for the people around you. We all grow together, we’re all made stronger by the ideas and contributions of our friends, and we owe it to the next generation to leave some pretty cool shit for them to play with.
I’ll leave you with a quote from a book I’m currently reading called “Simple Truths” by Kent Nerburn:
- “Find what it is that burns in your heart and do it. Choose a vocation, not a job, and your life will have meaning and your days will have peace.”
See you soon.