The Dangeryak Manifesto: Being Useful
I’ve been in recovery for a few years now and one of the things that I hear overwhelmingly from others in the community when they share their story is about an emptiness inside. A void, that needed to be filled. A hole (although, when people share their story and go on and on about filling the hole, lot’s of giggles start happening from the dirtier minded folks…ie. Me.) But back to the point, I think that maybe this is a feeling that we all on some level have. That emptiness that needs to be filled with something. Alcohol, drugs, sex, love, social media, whatever. I know that as an actor, there have been times, many times, that craving comes in the form of seeking validation. Please like me, please hire me, please, please, please give me a good review.
Ok, so here’s the thing then. If everyone feels this way, maybe, just maybe, we’re supposed to.
In the 11th chapter of the Tao te Ching it says:
We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.
So, what if that emptiness that we all feel inside is supposed to be put to use and not just filled. At the end of a long day of doing something that we consider valid, don’t we often feel spent? But the emptiness is a good one because we have been useful. In the recovery community they talk about being of service and I often thought this meant that I had to humble myself and/or prostrate myself for the mistakes I had made, but what if they are just talking about doing something useful, something that only I can do. Ever since I got sober, the best days that I have had are the ones where I feel like I have accomplished something, something that only I could do. That I am in the right place, doing the right thing, that only I can do. That I have a purpose.
So, how does this translate into acting. This is my thought and it has helped immensely in my work and especially in the auditioning process. I ask myself, How can I be of use? What do I have to bring to the table? The nice thing is that what I bring to the table is unique and only I can bring it. And if I am honest (more about this another day), about who and what I am, then I can bring something special. And if the people on the other side of the table do not cast me in an audition, then I do not need to take it personally, because I am not bringing something that is of use to them and why would I want to work on a project where I was not needed? That doesn’t mean that I was bad, just not what they need. It also means that I can be more useful somewhere else. I have the unique qualities of being me and if I bring that with me and do my best, then I will always end up in the right place, doing the right thing, that only I can do. If I am honest and offer myself to be useful, then I have a purpose.
So, here is my thought and wish for the day. “Please, help me to be useful”