And the Money Will Follow
December 4, 2012
The thing is…sometimes I struggle with the fact that I might be on a very, very stupid career path.
I mean, Dramatic Arts? Theatre? Acting? That’s some pretty shaky ground to stand on. I’m often troubled with thoughts of: “What if I’m not successful?” “What if I fall flat on my face?” “Where will I be then?” “What if going to college to study this is a waste of time?”
But I’m also confident that acting is my passion. When PAC season rolls around, I wake up every day eager to get school over with just so I can go to rehearsal. Just so I can take part in the creation of a play. Just so I can do what I love most.
It’s what I love most in the world…but…if I’m going to be blunt, if I’m going to be honest…the problem is: I most likely won’t make much money that way. I suppose it’s only human (or human in today’s society) to want money. I suppose it might be just human to base a lot of our Life choices on money. But I’m also trying to get over that, I’m trying to see past what monetary tag is attached to my future if I pursue acting.
See, this change in thought kinda started with my Mother. I always thought that my parents wanted me to be successful. They do. But it took me some time to realize in what way they wanted me to be successful. With the coming of Senior Year and countless college visits came talk of what I was going to major in…what I was going to do with my future. And I always told my Mom: “I’m going to try and find something marketable. I’ll find a major that will get me a job…and I’ll do acting on the side…” And that was my belief for a long time.
Fall started creeping closer and in the last weeks of Summer, I went to Cross Country Camp.
The Camp takes place in Northern Michigan and every day usually involves some kind of drive. Whether the drive takes us into town, out to a baseball game, or to some running trails, we often find ourselves in a caravan of Soccer-Mom vans.
It was during one of these drives that I had a really interesting conversation with Mrs. Arnold, the school’s Athletic Secretary. I was telling her my genius plan to “Try and find something marketable…and just do acting on the side.” And she sort of smiled and said (I’m roughly paraphrasing): “Well…there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever get around to that, you know? You might get caught up in whatever it is you’re doing and…you might never get to come back to what you love. A Life in which you live for the weekends isn’t a Life worth Living.”
And I hated that she said that. Because I knew it was the Truth.
I knew she was right.
It was what my Mom had tried to tell me all along…but I guess I wasn’t always ready to hear it and accept it as the Truth that it was.
So, I began to open my mind to the possibility that I would really go study theatre. I would really take that risk.
But there was still this nagging doubt in the back of my mind. It was there whether I liked it or not. It kept saying: “The money…There won’t be any money. Your chances of being successful are too slim…” And then…well, then Mom showed me this YouTube video…(That’s a link to it.)
I hate that I was so swayed by this video, I really do. I mean, it’s just a YouTube video. How could some silly video really change the way I thought? But…it did. I watched it and I felt oddly soothed. Like my worries really weren’t anything to worry about. My worries about money and about success were trivial.
The video depicts various scenes in Manhattan and other cities sped up while Alan Watts gives a speech in the background about what we as humans are forcing ourselves to believe about money, generation to generation.
My favorite moment in the video is right at the end of Alan Watts’ recounting of the advice he gives to the students who come to him for career guidance and say they won’t pursue their true passions because they sometimes pose a threat to monetary stability.
“When we finally got down to something which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him: ‘You do that…and…forget the money.’”
And when I heard him say that the first time I watched the video, I just remember this smile forcing it’s way onto my face. He goes on to say:
“Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your Life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing…in order to go on Living…that is, to go on doing things you don’t like doing! Which is stupid! Better to have a short Life that is full of what you like doing than a long Life spent in a miserable way.”
That’s exactly what I needed to hear. (I won’t go on to recite the rest of the video but I highly recommend you watch it.)
But I’m glad that I was shown that video…because now I’m sure that I’m doing the right thing. I mean, in the end, what is it all about? What is the number one priority on everyone’s list? What is the thing that everyone wants?
Happiness. Not just for themselves, but for the people around them, too. We want to be happy and have happiness surround us. For some, happiness comes in the form of money. But I know it can come in any form.
And that’s why I’m not afraid to major in theatre. That’s why I’m not afraid to go act. Even if I end up at the most run-down, small-town theatre in the entire world…at least I’ll be doing what I love. At least my days will be filled with happiness.
“Do what you love…and the money will follow.”
-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)