Question number two on my questions to open my eyes.
I actually set down to write this blog earlier and couldn't quite find the words today. It was out during my jog that I found the words.
To me, that question is a no brainer. Up until I thought about it, I thought it was a no brainer to everyone. How could anyone even compare the two? But then I thought about how many people there are out there who never even though about trying.
How may people have written stories or poems and thought "well that was fun, but i'm not really a writer" and put it away. Or the weekend football players who never ever considered trying out for fear of not making the cut. Or the community theatre actor who says, "I like acting" but never considered going big time because they might fall on their faces. Some people are happy to settle. Some people are just born that way. Some people want to never see their limitations that way they can continue believing that they don't have any.
I am in no way saying this is wrong. Not at all...it's just not for me. Maybe those people think that failing is worse. Safer. Easier.
Once, I was applying for a writing school. I had to gather three pieces of my best work. I had to put together a packet and send it by August 1st of that year. Now the stakes were high because this was the best of the best of the musical theatre writing schools. People all over the country would be aiming for very few spaces in this workshop. Well at least those who believed in trying in the first place...
So I gathered all my work, made my cuts, and to be safe decided to send it overnight express, even though I had weeks to spare.
I got to the post office and was met with a huge line. Having little time before needing to be at work, I went to the automated mailer and followed the instructions on the screen. Got my stamps, applied them, and put my packet into the machine and went on my merry way.
The next few weeks were weeks of insane waiting. Starting august first I began checking my voice mail, my email, my house mail...everything. I couldn't wait to hear either way whether or not I made the first cut. But then something interesting happened....nothing. No word. Nothing...Then I got a nice little letter in the mail from the post office on August 7th. Turns out I had filled out the information wrong, in my rush to get it in the mail. The packet had never left my post office. It had never made it to the school by the deadline. It was dead in the water.
I went home that night and, honestly cried. And to be even more honest, I went out to a bar alone. I got drunk, plastered, tore up. Basically 5 hours of long islands then somehow stumbling home. Hung over, I went to work the next day and cried. My coworker asked what was wrong and I told her the story. She didn't get it. "Maybe you wouldnt have made it anyways. This saves you the heartache."
"But I at least want the OPPORTUNITY to fail!" I cried.
The story has an epilogue. I managed to get a hold of someone in the school offices. I managed to plead my case. She told me if I got the packet in by 6pm that night (it was 2pm when we spoke) I could get it in the system. I think she was convinced when i said that same line. "I want the opportunity to fail."
I left work early and picked up the packet and got it in by 4 pm. and you know what? I failed. I did. I didn't even make the first cut. And yeah, it hurt a little. But no where near as much as when I thought I wasn't even going to be seen and heard. Furthermore, I learned a few lessons. First. Never trust the automatic post office machines. Two: Breathe. Take my time. Make sure things are perfect before taking a step. Rush jobs never work. And Three: I learned something about my values. I value opportunity. I value chances. I believe that if you fail, and learn something, then you aren't really failing at all.
So bring it on, failure, at least I got up the nerve to take you on the first time. And I'll get up again...and again...and again....
That one guy from ENCORE! on ABC. NYC based Writer/Actor/Storyteller. Theatre Maker. Husband. Bad Hombre. Cat Taunter.