Zen and the Art of Archery
I want to go to the Oscars. When I say I want to go to the Oscars I mean that I want to be nominated for an Oscar someday. When I say someday I mean that I want to be nominated for an Oscar and win one in the next 10 years. A pipe dream? Maybe. Impossible? No. The idea of holding that statuette in my hands fills me with hope, with a sense of accomplishment, with a sense of pride and amazement, an idea that all the hard work I've been putting into my craft and career might someday be worth it. I want to be able to thank my family, my loved ones, my friends, colleagues, & my team for helping me achieve my dreams. I want to give hope to all the young girls out in the world who dream of someday standing on the same stage. I want to be a part of the community of actors and entertainment professionals I admire.
Here's the problem...
I have no control over whether or not I get nominated for an Oscar. And what is an Oscar anyway but a superficial marker of excellence or, a lot of the times, a token of popularity. Where it's ok to visualize and dream about walking that red carpet someday it's not ok to become fixated on seeking an external reward for my work. I have to let that go. Such a trap might blind me from seeing real opportunities along the way. I musn't forget what's really important and what ultimately an Oscar might represent--becoming the best artist I can be. So how does one do that? With such vivid dreams and goals, how can I just let them go?
Last night I was lucky to get the last TKTS ticket to see A View From the Bridge before it closes. I really enjoyed the show. It made me proud to be a part of the theater community. It made me want to be more a part of the community of actors who's work I seek to emulate. I was very moved, especially by Liev Schreiber and Corey Stoll's performances. Watching their performances reinforced my desire to dig deep inside myself to help illuminate those aspects of the human condition that people are scared to face. Isn't that why we get into acting to begin with? To communicate? To shed light on what's beneath the surface? To challenge people and help them understand themselves?
Ultimately, then, the idea of an Oscar, or a Tony for that matter becomes irrelevant--an afterthought. What's really important is the work. The artistry is not in the reward but (not to sound cliche) in the moment. Maybe I will stand on the stage at the Kodak Theater with a statuette in my hand and maybe I won't. I will still allow myself to dream but I will not allow myself to become attached to such meaningless things. To quote Eugen Herrigel, "For access to the art--and the master archers of all times are agreed in this--is only granted to those who are 'pure' in heart, untroubled by subsidiary aims."