Today is the first day of school. I am here, sitting in my office at the Fine Arts Center, getting ready to contribute a small part to the artistic education of these talented Greenville County high school students.
On this first day of school, I thought I would share the greatest lesson I learned in my years of studying theatre. It happened in graduate school. It happened completely by accident.
During Christmas of my second year, one of my classmates, a man named Joe Klinebriel, one of the funniest humans I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, was given a hacky sack. He brought the hacky sack to class and before warm up one day we started kicking this thing around. We were horrible, every single one of us. We were kicking the ball off the mirrors, getting it stuck in the curtains. That first day we made it around the circle one time, and it was like solved global warming.
The next day he brought it to class again.
The third day he didn’t bring it, and we were like, “Where the fuck is our hacky sack, Joe?”
He never made that mistake again.
After a couple of weeks we were getting better. We could keep it in the air for a while. A few of were practicing tricks. We started to get to class early so we could have more time to hacky sack.
Spring rolled around. Occasionally we would have class outside. By this time, we masters at hacky sack. We were like hippies in Central Park. We might as well have had white person dreads and been doused in patchouli. We were catching it on our feet, knocking it off our heads. I used to do this trick where I would catch the ball in the nape of neck and run it up my spine onto onto the foot of a classmate.
One day, after a particularly good round, my buddy John Gardiner commented on how amazing we had become at this.
That’s when it happened.
Thomas Ward, a brilliant actor and writer from Texas, said the profound thing I have ever heard any one say. A statement so seeped in truth that its power is undeniable. The lesson that was the culmination of 12 years of public school, four years of college, 3/4 of graduate school. A statement that has kept me going during dark moments of my career, a pearl of wisdom that has been a guiding light, shining in the darkness.
“It’s weird," he said.
"What is weird," I asked.
"It’s like, the more you do something, the better you get at it.”
He was right. Find something you love to do. Do that thing many times. Eventually, you will get good at it.
Have a great school year every body. Happy learning.