approx 5 minute read...and totes worth every second.
Only in Los Angeles are coffee shops packed mid day.
In other cities, coffee shops are full in the morning as people go off to work, then again at 3pm when they get afternoon coffee. But in LA, actors, writers, and other creatives turn coffee shops into offices and meeting rooms through out the day. And, if you listen closely, you might hear someone discussing the next big film they're writing or someone complaining about their career.
Thats what I heard.
As I sipped my $5 pour-over, I overheard two young ladies discussing (complaining about) their career.
"Things just aren't working for me. I haven't been on an audition in 2 months, and I haven't booked a job 5 months. I'm not sure what I'm going to do."
"I know. Me too. I've been here for a year already, I'm 24 years old, and I'm not getting any younger. My agent says I should give it another year, and if I don't book enough jobs, I'll probably just move back home."
"Yea. Well, I've been here for 2 years...so...I'm totally ready to do something else."
Literally. That's what they said.
Actors, we live in an industry that is in a hurry, and it's trying to convince you to be in a hurry. When 24 is too old, when 2 years is too long, and when 140 characters is all you need, you're in a hurry.
Hurry is a myth, a lie, and will never lead to an artistic and meaningful life or career. Nothing created in a hurry actually lasts. Hurry tells you to "book a job" instead of "build a career". Hurry tells you that you're old, you don't have time, and you better do what it takes to get what you want because you're running out of time.
Don't believe it.
It ain't true.
Never has been.
The following fable is an excerpt from my recent book, You, the Career: a Holistic Guide to Acting, Life, and the Biz.
In this short fable, you see the ONE THING you need to go from a "hurried-book-the-job" mentality, to a strong "build-the-career" mentality.
The Hurried Farmer and The Man with The Scar
One day, there was a young farmer who planted an orange seed. For weeks, he waited but the seed never grew.
As he waited he grew frustrated.
So, the young farmer stood above the seed and yelled down into the earth, “Hurry up!! Grow! Grow!! Grow! I want an orange.”
An old farmer with a scar across his face heard the young man shouting and came to see what was going on.
As he approached, the young farmer said to the old man, “I planted a seed, and nothing is happening. I’ve waited for weeks, but now I’m frustrated, so I’m yelling at it, but it still won’t grow. Tell me what to do.”
The old farmer with the scar looked at the young man and smiled and said, “Stop yelling. You can’t rush a seed. Be patient. Water it, till the soil, give it sunlight. Be patient.”
The old man’s scar made his face look cavernous, dangerous, and a little frightening. But, the young man was too frustrated to notice.
So, he responded, “But, I want the fruit now. I need it now. I’m tired of waiting.”
“If you do not have the patience to grow the seed, then you are undeserving of its fruit.”
At this, the young man grew quiet. The old man continued.
“The seed grows in the dark and never asks, ‘how much further until I reach the light’, it just grows. The seed grows through rocks and roots, and never complains, ‘it’s too hard’. The seed never worries whether you will like its fruit, or think its flower is beautiful, the seed just grows. It gives you the fruit of its effort, and you must offer the same. You must choose the right soil, collect the right water, and find the right light. You must tend to it every day, wake up early, and work hard to protect it. A seed will never give to you what you are unwilling to give to it. If you want what is inside the seed, you must give it what is inside of you. And you must never rush it. You must always be patient.”
The young man protested, “But I have been patient. I’ve been waiting for weeks. I wait and wait, and nothing happens.”
“Young man, waiting is not the same as being patient. Patience is active caring. Waiting is passive worry. Patience looks forward to the future; waiting only remembers the past. Patience gives time; waiting takes it away. Patience requires the discipline to care. Patience without discipline leads to waiting. You have been waiting, but you are not patient. If you want to wait, set a trap. If you have patience, plant a seed.”
The young man opened his eyes wide as a new idea hit him. Then, with a powerful voice, he said, “I will! I will set traps, and I will catch anything that walks into them. And I will catch it quickly.”
Then, like water washing through clay, a sideways smile grew across the old man’s mouth, stretching the scar on his face.
He looked at the boy and said, “I, too, have set traps. I hid them in the dark where no one could see them, and I waited and waited. Then suddenly, I heard the trap SNAP! I ran to the woods, uncovered my trap, and found waiting for me, a rat. Dead, and bleeding. I cannot eat a rat, so I threw him back and set the trap again. When I heard the next SNAP, I ran to the woods and discovered I’d caught an eagle. But, eagles should not be trapped, so I set him free. The third time I heard the trap, I ran to the woods to find I had trapped a bear. But, I was not ready to catch a bear, so he escaped and gave me this scar.”
The young man began to breathe quickly as he finally noticed the scar.
“When you set traps, you never know what you will catch. Many things, like rats, are not worth catching. Other things, like eagles, should not be caught. But, most dangerous of all, you may catch things like bears, that you are not ready to catch. Do not set traps, young man. Plant seeds.”
The old man’s scar created a shadow over his face as he turned and walked away, leaving the young man alone with his seed.
Patience is the difference between booking a job and building a career.
It is the root of perseverance, the fruit of presence, and the perspective of every great artist.
Too many actors want the benefits of a fully invested career without having the patience it takes to fully invest in it.
Hurry ends careers; age does not.
Are you planting seeds, or setting traps? Are you waiting or being patient?
A career as an actor is a life long endeavor. You are never too old and you are not running out of time.
It takes more time to build a cathedral than a strip mall.
Stop hurrying to book a job.
Be patient and build a career.
To purchase the book, "You, the Career", click here.