11.30.2010

Yearly Checkup

Henry says, "Go be famous, Dad."
December marks my one-year anniversary of living in Chicago. After a quarter century living in Reno, Nevada, I chased a nebulous fantasy of being a creative juggernaut to the doughy Midwest. Either as a writer, actor, musician, or improviser, I wanted a life spent making things with my friends; I wanted to build sandcastle monuments.

Having just been offered a job in Seattle doing computer programming, I was set to build a regular life: career, family, wrestling the most handsome dog on the planet. But I knew it wouldn't make me happy. The parts of my life I've spent creatively latent were miserable. Making things keeps me sane. I need it. I figured this would be the last time I'd ever be young enough, foolish enough, and willing to scrape by working a part-time job to fund my idiot dreams.

So I left. I sold worldly possessions, left the big stuff in my Dad's attic, and drove out to the home of long-form improvisation, the iO Theater. If this were a movie, the camera would take a long pan of me in my car chasing my future. Elliot Smith would follow my car into the wild unknown.  Sadly, this is not Good Will Hunting.  

Turns out you actually have to do work. Chicago is an enormous city where talented people are common as North Face jackets. Everyone in classes at iO is a performer, actor, singer or unfairly handsome. They're all here for the same reasons I am.  There was no grand dream, no expectation to be on SNL or become famous. At the time I had no idea what Second City even was. I used Napoleon's plan. First I'd show up, then I'd see what happened.*

I'm here, with no earthly attachments, financially secure, and of sound body and mind. There are only two things that will stop me from succeeding: lack of talent and fear. Right now I'm concerned about the latter. The ugly four-letter word manifests itself through self-doubt. It is a tiny voice that sneaks into my ear at the end of a bad show. Shows become a thing of dread. My stomach gets twisted in knots and I get sucked into a vortex of insecurity that causes me to do perform poorly, which in turn causes more crushing self-doubt.

Fuck fear. Moving here was the opening gambit in my war on fear. It's trench warfare. My troops are weary and tired, but in good spirits. A war report has been commissioned and the debriefing should be available as early as tomorrow. Come back for the carnage report card.

*Sports Night and Napoleon

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