I’ve noticed that having something as pressing as cancer has made being upset about other things difficult. Like the other day, someone cut me off in traffic, and I wanted to honk at them but remembered their bad driving was the least of my problems. So, I just took a deep breath and smiled.
Therefore, I think the key to being positive is having no other options.
I say this as a positive person. But maybe the reason I spend so much time looking at the bright side is because the alternative is just too depressing. Now maybe this is due to my socioeconomic status. I’ve never had a shit ton of money and don’t know how awesome that must feel. You don’t hear a ton of rich people saying, “Life is all about perspective.” But for those of us clinging to the lower rungs of the ladder we need to look around and think, “We might be barely hanging on but look at the view! Yay perspective!!!!”
Not that I don’t completely lose perspective from time to time. Last week, as a matter of fact, I ended up at the bottom of a deep, dark rabbit hole. And I got there through the oldest trap door in an actor’s world.
I went to the dark side because of an audition.
As everyone knows, auditions are how actors get jobs. But it’s not just a normal job interview. For an audition we prepare for the job, fall in love with the job, dream of a life where the job is ours and all our problems solved and insecurities are washed away. Did I mention those dreams are dashed roughly 98% of the time? I wouldn't recommend this lifestyle for mental health, but if you were considering dabbling in alcoholism for about 20 years it might be just the thing.
Now normally, when you audition a lot, you gain a little perspective. You want the job but protect a small part of yourself.
Occasionally, however, you forget to do that. And that was the case this past Thursday.
I went in there and read the first scene. Then the second one. Then I heard the two harshest words in the English language. I heard, “Thank you.” Period at the end.
On its surface that ‘thank you’ with a period at the end, is much like any other thank you. It’s polite, it’s courteous. To the highly trained actor, however, that “thank you” with the period at the end, is instantly recognizable as the kiss of death. It’s more of a good bye than a thank you. More of a, “It’s not me, it’s you.”
I walked out in a haze, trying to convince myself that the “thank you” I heard wasn’t the “thank you.” I knew it to be. “She laughed at that one line,” I told myself. “And she made an audible sign of approval on the other one. Remember that? It’s fine. It’s all fine. Everything is fine. I’m talking to myself in an elevator. Yeah, everything is fine.”
I got into my car and tried to leave. The garage, however, was cash only, and since I haven’t had cash on me since 2012, I had to go find an ATM. As I was backed away from the gate, I hit a concrete column. A swarm of maintenance workers came over to look at it while I sat there in my audition suit, in my ’97 Mercury Sable, full of cancer, waiting for them to look at the damage. They had mercy on me and said everything was ok, so I walked to Publix, got cash, and left the audition unsure about not only my acting but my driving as well.
The rest of the day I checked my email every 7 minutes, waiting for a call back I knew wasn’t coming. Just checking and checking and refreshing and checking again.
A year or two ago, that could very well have ruined my whole week. Certainly my weekend. But then I remembered, I don’t have that option anymore. I can’t get down in the dumps. I can’t give over to the sweet sounds of self pity. Not because I’m some advanced being, but because there is currently real shit on that road. And those real reasons to be afraid and depressed and the exact things that are keeping looking squarely on the bright side.
And now, four days later, I have another audition I’m obsessing about. And some woman from Pennsylvania almost ran me down as I was crossing the road. But I took a breath and let that shit slide. As I hopefully will with next week’s audition.
Thank’s for the perspective cancer!
Davey and Cancer high five.
End of play.