This morning I woke with my usual weekday alarm, at 6:00, but pressed the snooze for a luxuriant nine-minute extension. I think I had a little too much salt in my dinner last night, and it made me especially dehydrated and imbalanced. Once I was up, I dallied in my rituals, adding little preparations for the weekend until I felt capable of safely getting out the free weights and plugging into my headphones. I'm back on a schedule of each morning alternating between upper body and lower, and today was upper. The advantage of a lower-body morning is that I can stretch, check in a little and then just get out and start jogging; my mind will clear eventually in the course of the run. On an upper day, I have to rally my mental facilities in other ways. If I dived straight in to push-ups and curls in a fugue state I would undoubtedly succeed admirably at hurting myself, either by exacerbating old injury(ies) or collecting a new one by dropping a lump of iron onto my person. Either way, it's best to be alert before beginning.
As I shook out, and rallied (with admittedly pitiful momentum) my resources, I had this thought: Life is pretty difficult.
Not my life, mind you: Life. As in, living. It occurred to me this morning that just getting by, living a life that one doesn't hate, is in itself a pretty big accomplishment. I think this is true to varying degrees for everyone. Some obviously have more difficult lives than others. I wouldn't want to compare my struggles to save enough money to move into a bigger apartment to, say, the efforts of any given Sudanese refugee to avoid a death full of indignity and suffering. No contest: New York real estate wins every time. But in the strange and ambiguous state between sleeping and waking this morning I had this kind of clear, unexpected insight. Living is tricky business.
I sometimes think the major reason I continue acting is because otherwise I would feel stifled and bored. I believe that is entirely possible, but I also believe that it's an irrational fear, because life itself, the day-to-day efforts, are endlessly complex and engaging. They ought to be, anyway. Ask yourself, is there any activity in the world that I can't be improving myself in, that can't lead to something more, that won't at any given moment surprise me completely? Cooking, for instance. For the past few evenings, in the interests of banishing Fiancee Megan's lingering cold and using more of our extant groceries, I've been making soup for dinner. The past three times we've had it, I've made it three different ways, according to what was at hand and what I felt might improve the balance of flavors and the health effects. Last night, upon tasting it, I thought I'd nailed it pretty good. It tasted appetizing, strong and rather complex. I congratulated myself. Then, this morning, I was forced into the realization that it didn't work. I could probably work on my basic vegetable-broth soup for the rest of my life and always be surprised and, since I enjoy cooking, I just might. Which, I suppose, is the key: enjoying oneself. It makes for being alert, observant, emotionally invested -- all things that help the appreciation of the complexities of a given activity come far more naturally. At the start of college, my then-girlfriend and I went to dinner with a fellow freshman acting major and he asked us why we were there, studying theatre. I labored over a personal and meaningful answer. She simply said, "I suppose because it's one of the few things in life that makes me genuinely happy."
I try to exercise every morning for two basic reasons; I'm vain and mildly masochistic. No really: I am. No, really, I (try to) exercise every morning because I want to be ready to perform acrobalance and other physical feats whenever they're called for, and because good habits breed themselves. I've learned to enjoy it, at that (though I'd much rather be lifting a flyer than weights). I try to make it a part of my regular ol' life. Even if I gave up acting tomorrow, I'd want to keep it up. It's a choice not just for my Third Life(TM) but for my first life. It makes for a slightly trickier life, of course. Time must be made, bedtimes must be adhered to, diet must be balanced, injury must be courted, etc. But, then again, everything we choose for ourselves makes for a slightly trickier life, doesn't it? It's always one more thing. The simplest life would be about just getting by, and even that life is usually fraught with struggle and surprise.
I have on occasion been accused of taking too much on, especially in the way of theatre work. At such accusations I generally scoff with a scoffing scoffation. I can get spread thinner than is good for me, of course, but I work because it makes me happy. I like work. Of a certain variety. Theatre work most of all. Acting in general next. Wedding planning ... mmm ... somewhere in the middle. Day job, not so much. But in a certain sense, it's all good stuff. I thought that during this time of so much change and planning I would have nothing to report on the acting work front. I've been intentionally avoiding travel and long-term commitments in the interests of keeping things as simple as possible for the next month or so. Yet today I updated Loki's Apiary and noticed that I had more entries for this month than any other yet this year. There are any number of explanations for this, but at least one of them is that life is tricky. And I like tricky.