Yesterday morning I was doing a zoom session with a parent and a 10-year-old boy. The agent told the parent and the kid that “when Lewis says you're ready. I'll take you on.” (I've done this for a few agents over the years, so it wasn't like it came out of the blue.) I told them halfway through the session that I'm not taking on too many new clients and he just said, “Mr. Baumander I will try so hard…please help me”. What are you going to say to a 10-year-old who is pleading with you as if his life depended on it? On one level if I didn't take him on, (obviously) he's only 10, so next week it might be the bike he wants, but might not get, so it wasn't that big of a deal. But, you know, it stuck with me and I thought about it on and off most of the day.
I ended the day, with an 85-year-old man who had been out of the business for a while. He had been in the industry but left to work for a major multinational company as a salesperson for a number of years. He got back into the business after retiring and was doing a bit of extra work to avoid going crazy with boredom. He was going up for a decent role and came for some coaching. I felt weirdly embarrassed. I felt really uneasy. I mean we had a great time, and we had a good laugh and stuff. It turns out we actually knew somebody from years ago: a mutual acquaintance. However, I realized that I was looking at him like he was an old man and was having a hard time getting past that. He just looked old and that embarrassed me because it dawned on me that if I'm almost 70, and he's 85, and if I'm looking at him like he's an old man.
Hmm… let's subtract 15 from 70, and damn! Does this mean, everybody 55 and younger are looking at me the way I'm looking at him? So, I got hung up and spun out on this series of thoughts. Do you see how easy it is to tumble down the rabbit hole of time? I also realized, of course, that this was not the first time I had experienced this phenomenon. This occurred at each transition point in my life. It was time for a quick course correction in my thinking or it was self-medicating time. I realized (as I did at each of life’s transitional moments) that it’s my attachment to being younger or older that has screwed me up. It was by not evolving and accepting and coming to terms with who I am now that was the source of my anxiety. This is the danger of ego and the pitfall of seeing yourself through other people's eyes: of measuring yourself by self-limiting criteria at every stage of your life. If you are not vigilant this is exactly what you will do.
This got me thinking about all the transitions we all go through over the years of our lives. How we go from kids to teens, from teens to our early 20’s and then pray you to survive the black hole of “27”…(you get the picture.) As you move through these various life transitions, you discover that they each have their own challenges.
This becomes particularly acute when you apply it to your career as an actor. You’re “too young” to play the young lawyer, but “too old” to be in high school. You are “too young” to be the mother of three, but “too old” to be the intern. Each age category has its black hole and its sweet spot. Each stage requires a recalibration of our place in the world. So, becoming more aware of your own life passages and how they run parallel to your life as an actor is essential. One needs to be willing to let go of the past and become more curious about the future. This is a critical part of life’s growth. It seems to me we are always lagging behind in our awareness of the transition we are in. Maybe there is a way of becoming more observant and cognizant sooner to mitigate the upheaval. I will explore each decade and how this impacts our lives and our careers.
This will be the subject of the next series of blogs. Stay tuned.
Let’s work through this together. Next week's focus: