"May the road rise with you."
All this week, Shane Nickerson is publishing older blog entries that never made the cut for one reason or another. He introduces each entry with a brief comment about it, then shares some wonderful writing that clearly deserved to make it past the internal censor who often paralyzes
writers actors actors/writers guys like us.
This one, in particular, hit me where I live:
If you want the secret, I have it.
It's about the work. Regardless of your chosen profession or station in life, the work is what matters. Skip it and you will be caught. Slack off, and others will catch up to you. Cut corners and you will have to answer to yourself at some point.
Of course, that said, the hardest question to answer once it is assumed that hard work is part of the equation is, "Now, what do I work on?" Whatever you love. Work on whatever you love and don't think about the payoff, but instead the road. If part of your road is a continual hunt for a payoff, so be it, but pick a life and career that makes you happy even in the very pursuit of the thing you've chosen.
A couple of days ago, I had an epiphany: Around the time I came to Exile, I drove right off my Road. I started to take an interesting little side trip, (mostly to Prove To Everyone that I could do it) but I lost my map and couldn't find my way back. I was so thoroughly off my road, I didn't even realize I was driving around in circles and down dead end paths until it was way too late, and I was running out of gas.
Set phasers to Ramble, Mr. Worf:
When I went to the Grand Slam convention last weekend, I kept expecting to feel bad about it. I kept expecting to feel like I was a loser for going without anything new to show off and I really worked myself up about it. I really felt like I was in exactly the same place I was five years ago, and that seriously bummed me out.
But when I got there, that anticipated feeling never arrived. Despite my best initial efforts to really feel like a jerk, I really had a good time. I didn't feel bad; I felt like I was at home. I felt like I was surrounded by like-minded people who all wanted to celebrate this stuff that we all love, and I felt like I had something unique and interesting to share with them. I loved how good and how right that felt, and at some point over the weekend, I realized that even though I was hanging out at a con, I'm not in the same place I was five years ago. I've grown as a writer, I've grown as a husband, and I've grown as a father. I'm smarter and wiser than I was five years ago, even if I haven't accomplished as much as I'd hoped. There is no denying that I haven't done what I'd hoped to do with acting or writing, but in all the other areas that truly matter, I've rolled several critical successes.
You know how everything happens for a reason? If I hadn't gone to that convention and simply enjoyed the celebration of Sci-Fi and Sci-Fi fandom, if I hadn't realized, accepted, and acknowledged that I really have grown and succeeded in the last five years, I wouldn't have found the map back to my Road. Without it, I never would have been in the right place to have so much fun with the hosting audition, and I wouldn't be waiting right now to hopefully hear good news about that job.
I thought about the last line of Just A Geek the other day, which I thought went something like, "I'm finally cool with all the Star Trek and Sci-Fi stuff, and I'm happy about that."
I just looked it up, and that's not what it says. It actually says that I'm doing something that really makes me happy, which at the time was writing. It says a lot about my current state of mind, (and the unvarnished truth about myself at this moment) that I thought it said I was happy about my work on Star Trek and I was cool with all that stuff, though, doesn't it?
When I watch TNG on G4, (and I do, almost every night,) no matter how hard I try to feel sad, or maudlin, or regretful, I just can't do it. I see my friends, and I have fond memories of working with them. I see my work, and I feel proud (when I'm not laughing at the Ugly Grey Spacesuit) of a lot of the things I did with what I was given to work with. As a bonus, watching lots of TNG has brought back happy, lucid memories of of all sosrts of things I did when I was a teenager: I get flashes of painting 40K armies in my dressing room, going to Depeche
Mode concerts with my friends, watching movies like The Hidden and Alien Nation and Prince of Darkness at the AMC in Burbank with Darin when it was just 10 theatres (and 10 was HUGE back then), and going to different conventions all over the country to celebrate Star Trek. Of course, as I described in Just A Geek, there came a time where I didn't have fun at the cons, and I started to resent them, but even those memories are hard to pull up as I watch these shows from the second and third seasons. Is it selective memory? Of course it is, and I'm totally fine with that.
I know I went over this in Just A Geek and Dancing Barefoot, but it's worth it for me to go over it one more time: I don't have to avoid or run away from science fiction because I was a big part of a huge science fiction franchise, and I didn't have the acting success I'd hoped for when I quit. I was a science fiction geek long before I was Wesley Crusher, and I'll be a science fiction geek for the rest of my life. I can't run away from fandom, because I can't run away from myself. I can't run away from who I am. Resistance is futile.
When I read Shane's post earlier this week, I initially responded to what he said about the work. But as I reflected on it, I kept thinking about the Road. When I knew what my Road was, I knew where my Road was, and I knew how to get back on it. I wasn't as far off it as I thought, in fact. I just had to turn the wheel and step on the gas. It also helped to drive with my eyes open for a change.
My Road is paved with d20s and TRON DVDs and Atari 2600 games. It's lit by the glow of TNG and BSG episodes and the soundtrack is by Vangelis. It's patrolled by Rover and they sell Soylent Green in the rest stop vending machines. The speed limit is 42, but if you flash your Bavarian Illuminati card, you can use the FTL drive to make it to Milliways in time for dinner.
I'm back on my Road, and nobody can take the sky from me.