I took my family to Universal Studios this Spring.  We were especially looking forward to the Harry Potter parks.  When I got there, I was hoping to feel the magic.

 

But at fifty years old I can no longer submit to make-believe the way I used to.  I don’t have the need to live in a fantasy anymore, because I like my life.  And so the park just seemed like a park, and I was feeling very down.

 

I heard a story about Robert de Niro that fascinates me.  He came into an audition one time and read for a part.  The producer remarked that he was astounded by De Niro because while all he seemed to be doing was reading the lines, it was utterly convincing.

 

I find it interesting that De Niro ’s performances are always “him.”  He doesn’t seem to be “acting” that differently in each movie.  And yet the characters he plays could never be mistaken for one another.

 

How does he do that? 

Every once in a while someone will give me a very nice compliment about my abilities, tell me I’m great.  But the truth is that such compliments are very confusing to me.  What’s confusing about being called “great” at something?

My favorite scene in Saving Private Ryan is where the Nazi soldier is fighting Mellish, the Jewish soldier.  The Nazi subdues Mellish by literally quieting him with soothing words so that Mellish will no longer resist the knife being stabbed into his heart. Obviously I’m not rooting for the Nazi, but I found an important lesson in the scene.

 

Prodigies are fun because you think, “Wow, if they can play like that now, what are they going to be like when they’re adults?”  But prodigies aren’t fun because a lot of them burn out.  Child actors, child musicians, only a very few end up staying the person they were at a young age.

 

It’s nice to be able to predict a winner.  Everyone tries.  Marshall Crenshaw was touted as the next big thing in the early 80’s (He’s actually amazing, but have you ever heard of him?)

 

From my end, as much as I’ve done, and done well, almost no one ever told me I was going anywhere.  In high school my English teachers loved me, but that’s 9 million nerdy kids.  Only one guy ever said he thought I had real potential:

 

There’s a silly proverb that says a broken clock is right two times a day.  Not too profound.  However, if you compare the broken clocks to clocks that supposedly work, you’d be surprised at how the broken clocks come out!

 

Recently I stood up to someone that has been damaging me.  I don’t usually do that.  Once I had, I was essentially free of the damage, because there was nothing this person could do to hurt me anymore.

 

And yet I still feel like attacking them.  I still find myself fighting them in my head.  I still think of them as the enemy even though they are defeated.

I had the “pleasure” of watching The Stanford Prison Experiment.  It’s a gruesome film about a grisly six days spent by two groups of students who had volunteered to take part in an experiment.  While the movie presents a very disturbing series of events, its ultimate lesson is very useful for performers and creatives.

 

I always advise people to do what scares them.  I don’t always take my own advice.  I’m calling myself out publicly today so that I do.

 

My wife tells me that I express my desire to do something and then come up with a million reasons why I can’t do it.  I have a burning desire to perform, and I talk myself out of it a lot.  I’m reassessing that now.

Kira Martin describes how irresistible she found the urge to protect her deeply troubled son in her compelling article called “What He Left Behind,” https://longreads.com/2019/01/24/what-he-left-behind/?fbclid=IwAR0S6s464ryMvtF2ac4BY7VbJlASN6g43fnlLv9cayzDDkFkf0mm2ZZguGs .  She writes about the bond between mother and child in terms I’d never heard before:

 

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