Sunday, May 03, 2009

Moving On vs. Pushing Through

Sometimes life is about moving on. Sometimes it is about pushing through. I find it incredibly difficult to know the difference.

Let's take your favorite high school sport. Most kids start little league or pee wee football thinking that they could possibly grow up to play in the pros. The vast majority of them will not make it. Many of them will be good. They may be the star of their high school team or even get a college scholarship. Very few will completely fulfill their professional dreams though. That's OK. It is hard to see someone who was the starting quarterback in high school still trying to recapture their glory days a few decades later. We want to scream, "move on!"

Then, of course, there are those great American stories of perseverance. The Reds have a new third basement this week, Adam Rosales. He's a classic old-timey charlie hustle kind of player. His minor league teammates even gave him the nickname, "Pete Rose-alas" because he sprints to first on walks and plays with Pete's inspiring passion. He was told countless times by his own coaches that he would never make it to the majors, but he kept at it and here he is. He persevered instead of moving on. That's inspiring.

The problem is that we never hear the stories (there are millions) of people who chased a dream and failed miserably. For instance, no matter how much I may want to play for the Reds, I never will. They make Disney movies about thirty-somethings quitting their jobs and becoming professional athletes, but that isn't real life. (OK, those movies are based on real life, but that even underscores the point. Every time an old guy does the impossible they get Mark Wahlberg or Dennis Quaid signed on and throw millions at a film to inspire us all again...and to sell tickets and popcorn.)

The point is this...if guys like Adam Rosales or the real guys those movies were based on (Vince Papale and Jim Morris) gave up, how lame would their story have been? On the flip side, you still want to shake your neighbor to death when he starts to tell you that he'd be starting for the Yankees if they'd just give him a chance. These are extreme examples of real life dilemmas that we all face: when do you move on? when do you push through?

I thought I had moved on once. I really believed that I had given the vocational pastor thing a solid run. I was finished. I took a new career and started chasing the next dream. Then I found out five years later that I was only really taking a break. Here I am again. Now many of my new dilemmas stem from that second career that was left somewhat unfinished. I'm a member of the Screen Actor's Guild, but I had stopped paying my dues when I moved here. There aren't a lot of SAG jobs in Cincinnati anyway. Plus, I have to turn down most of the real auditions I get here because I have a real job now and they don't work well with my schedule. I'm not a working actor anymore. That's OK. But I had to do some soul searching this week. SAG sent me a friendly letter telling me to pay up by May 1 or kiss my membership goodbye. It's very difficult to get into SAG and even harder to get back in when they dispose of you. "Moving on" would mean no more SAG roles in my future, or possibly paying thousands of dollars to get back in someday.

I had decided to "move on" and not be that guy who lives in the past. I have no desire to move back to LA and do that drill again. I want to do my job here for a long time. I'm happy here and it feels right. But I just couldn't do it. I paid up at the last minute. Now I'm officially a professional actor who makes no money acting - at least for another year. Maybe it's just too hard to let something that was such a part of me die. Maybe it says something about me that I couldn't turn in my card. Maybe I am that guy. Crap.

Or maybe it will all integrate. Maybe I'll produce my own SAG movies here in Cincinnati and it will all make sense. Maybe I'll get to play Middle Age Guy #4 in the next blockbuster movie that comes to town. Maybe I need to hold onto it because that part of my story informs and shapes this part of my story. Maybe.

I'm just saying it's complicated. My hunch is that we all have something that complicated in our lives.

Gonna go watch the Reds beat the Pirates now. Adam Rosales just popped up to center. Poor kid. He'll never make it.


Helen Ann said...

And Jesus loves you whether you are SAG or not. I think you did what was in your heart to do. And that's OK. :) Blessings, brother!

photogr said...

Isn't it amazing the things you dream about making a career of only to dissapate in smoke by fate.

I am sure many can attest to that. The one thing I have learned in life for every ball player or race car driver that makes it to the big time, there are hundreds of thousands that are good but never make it. For every photographer that dreams of becoming the next worlds renouned photographer and is a good one, Millions never make it.

However fate plays a part in their life to lead them in another direction best suited for their abilities. That is where true success can be measured.

anjoo said...

Not to make light of what's obviously a heavy deal for you, but maybe sometimes these "symbolic" decisions aren't as much about whether we're choosing "right or wrong," but about the process. Maybe it's not about whether we're totally surrendered or not, but about what God is teaching about our own hearts, and the richness of the journey He calls us to. And if God is outside of time, present in all times. I wonder what it means to Him when we "move on" from our past. Anyway, I get a kick out of your screen credits. : )

Dan said...

If it makes you feel any better, I just bought a new hair brush...

tommy said...

I would have paid it too.

Alex Green said...

Food for thought. And it's chewy!

Jon said...

To quote on of my favorite musicals "Children of Eden" by S. Schwartz: "The hardest part of love is the letting go."

When are we going to those Reds games?

Jim said...

I had this career change from being electrical prints to a programmer. It was a big scary switch, to take the dive into a new career. It was a lot to learn too.

I have these dreams sometimes where i walk out the dream. It happened at that job interview, where I knew what the guy was going to say and he said and i knew what my response was going to be.

When I look back on it I see God all over it. I was struggling with the whole idea of God watching over the details of my life. But now I know that he wants to know my struggles the details everything about me. God is my dad, I know it.

Sallquist said...

good call!

sandra2u said...

Don't give up on your dream, Joe. I was thinking of asking you to be the voice of the lead character in my animated movie. Maybe Dave Workman can be one of the voices too. This could be fun. Maybe we'll need to recruit some SAG people. (I really don't know what SAG is...just trying to keep the hope alive.)

I just don't know how long it will be until my movie happens, since I've only just begun to learn to create 3D animation. Hopefully you both won't be old guys before it happens, because the characters are young...or middle aged.

Hmmm. Maybe I need to move on? Or perhaps press through? Good question! I vote that we press on through! Let's pray and believe for awesome things to come. Why not? God can work ALL things together for good! I'm glad to be part of the Vineyard.