I just finished a week-long acting intensive with the Tom Todoroff Conservatory in New York City and there are literally no words for how amazing it was. However... I feel more directionally challenged than ever; the guilt-laden question coming at me from all sides: “So…what now?”
And I'm sure I’ll find some clarity in stillness, now that I'm home. No surprise, my mindfulness practice went right out the back passenger window of my Lyft from the airport on day one. Instead, the name of my game in New York was speed, endurance and rapid-fire absorption of the city, our classes, dinner with friends, studio scene work, Broadway.
Nope. No time for quiet reflection. Instead, I kept stretching into the experience - arms and legs up and out, head high, eyes wide - reveling in the whole thing. I am in New York City studying acting!
But the question is there, and I know it’s my Ego doing the asking. “Alright,” it says, “so you did the New York class. Great. What’s next? I mean, we spent an awful long time away from the family, spent (ahem…) quite a bit of dough, went to all of those classes day in and day out. It was intense for sure. And amazing. But what was it all for? What are we going to do with all that?”
I know it’s my Ego because the inquiry is so clearly steeped in fear; so unabashedly rooted in its need for resolve. It is demanding that we need proof the trip was a solid, unwavering stepping stone toward something big and meaningful. That it’s time I start making something of myself already! “My god, we’ve been unemployed for five months now. Where is all this going?”
Now, if my Heart was leading the interrogation, I’d approach all of this with more wonderment and exploration. I’d treat myself to the allowance of time and thoughtful consideration. I’d be graced with more truthful discovery and room for putting all the puzzle pieces together. All with a lot less Facebook-ing and Google searches into other peoples’ stories of achievement: What are they doing that I’m not? How do they define success and how do I fit their mould?
My coach wisely reminds me to unpack my experience slowly, savoring all the moments without action; to take some time. Yep, we're back to finding that ol' intersection where Being meets Doing. But man, that intersection is lined with red lights and confusing road signs with arrows pointing in all four directions. It's too easy to find myself at a standstill here, every time I return.
Sometimes I run swiftly back toward Doing, relying on plans and lists and web browsers to find my path. Get things done, hurry! Check some boxes and brag to family we're accomplishing stuff!
Other, more humbling times, I saunter back to Being and we breathe and write and drink too much wine together. Let's just be here, man. We got time, baby. Plenty of time... Namaste.
Do: Review my notes from the intensive, sign on to the actors' audition database suggested by my on-camera teacher, keep up with my acting/improv/voiceover classes.
Be: Revel in the nuances of what I learned and the overall experience of my New York extravaganza, write, recommit to my meditation practice, sit in quiet reflection and allow some time.
So "What's next?" you ask, my dear Ego. Don't you worry about it. It will all become clear, with a little time.
I need a minute to untangle myself from the whole experience a bit; pause and reflect. Wrap my head around the whole thing. (Not to mention time to unpack my literal baggage too, by the way. That suitcase is still sitting in the middle of our bedroom, busting at its seems with dirty laundry and wrinkled jumpsuits!)
Next steps will come. They always do. No need to rush into them just yet.
All of this reminds me of a Mark Twain quote I have saved as my mobile phone screensaver right now. It goes like this:
"If you can see your path laid out in front of you, step by step, you know it's not your path.
Your own path you make with every step you take.
That's why it's your path."
Yes, my path will unfold one step at a time and there will be intersections, indeed. The place where Doing meets Being. I've been here before and will undoubtably return here again. And again.