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8:47 pm - Thurs 1.01.2009
How May I Be Of Service?

How May I Be Of Service?

I hope you all had a happy and safe New Year's Eve.

I spent the bulk of the evening with my friend Pat.

At the Sunset 5, we saw a great Swedish vampire movie called Let The Right One In (I highly recommend it), and had dinner afterwards at a place called Basix in West Hollywood.

We talked at some length at the restaurant, but it was still before midnight when Pat dropped me off at my apartment.

(Even though I remember thinking it was very depressing last year, to watch post-stroke Dick Clark ring in the new year, I still tuned in to "New Year's Rockin' Eve", just before midnight, to watch the ball drop - clearly, force-of-habit is a powerful force indeed.)

Anyway, it was a very nice evening, just about perfect for "where I'm at" right now (Complete with Pat generously picking up the dinner tab, since I've recently been wrestling with a new wave of financial anxiety every since I looked over the past year's career "stats") - I wanted to have something to do, but don't think I would have enjoyed a party even if I'd been invited to one.

Talking with Pat at the restaurant kind of "primed the pump" for writing about the coming year - Pat's a recovering alcoholic and AA member, so our conversations often center around spiritual/self-help topics (When we're not talking specifically about our careers - his as a writer for LA Weekly, and me doing...whatever it is I do).

And of course, it being New Year's Eve, we talked quite a bit about the coming year, and what we wanted to have happen.

And as it turned out, what we both want from ourselves in the new year, in large part, is to be less fearful, or at least to make more courageous decisions - To take more chances, to not worry so much about failure, or what other people might think.

For me, something I resolve for 2009 is to "trust myself more".

I am tremendously fearful - I perceive myself as being much more fearful than the norm, whatever that may be (I'm much more fearful, as a rule, than I typically let on in here) - and a big component of that fear is "I won't be able to handle it".

For example: I feel anxious when someone from Weight Watchers calls asking me to take a receptionist shift, even though I need the money.

(Likewise, even though I need more regular meetings - I've got one regular meeting at this point, and barring big success on the acting front, that's just not enough - the idea of having a full-time slate of Weight Watchers meetings makes me very nervous, over and above the fact that I just don't want a full-time job that isn't acting).

Basically, I'm afraid I'll commit to a shift, or a schedule, then run into conflicts when JS or Brett or someone from LA Actors calls about an audition (Like that's my problem right now...).

I'm afraid of how "stressed" I'll feel, I'm afraid of putting my job at risk, and I'm afraid of potential confrontation (If I have to call Sherry G., the "territory manager", for example, to tell her I couldn't find anyone to take my shift, but I have an audition that I'm not going to miss).

Clearly, I can't keep my schedule open 24-7 for fear of "conflicts" - there's a little something called "paying the bills" to consider - and it's not as if I'm the first actor who's ever had to deal with this stuff.

The position I'm in right now is that I need to take every single "fill" request I get at Weight Watchers, and every regular shift that comes my way, and not "book out" with JS and Brett to accommodate it (Which I did a few times early on when I started), cause that's really wrong (I can not put WW, or any "subsistence job", ahead of acting).

There's a procedure in place for getting people to work for you, which is easy enough. Beyond that, Lynn K. (The leader for my Sunday morning meeting) suggests having a half-dozen or so strong possibilities "in your pocket" for just such an occasion (An audition, or a gig).

In any case, I can't avoid potential conflicts or tensions because I'm afraid "I can't handle it", or I'm worried about the possible outcome - I have to trust that I'm a smart, capable guy, do my best to do right by everyone (But most of all, to do right for myself), and do what I need to do, what I know in my heart is the right thing to do, trusting that I can roll with whatever happens.

Fear permeates everything I do, every decision I make, so I'm going to work hard this year to tell myself, often and loudly, "You can handle it, Jim".

I'm guessing if I add even a little more courage to my day-to-day existence this year, it'll make a huge difference in my life.

Something else Pat talked about last night resonated with me in a way similar sentiments haven't before - I guess it's an AA thing to "get outside of yourself" by asking "How can I be of service?", and Pat has found asking himself that question to be very helpful.

I don't think of myself as the most generous, giving soul, and it's hard to imagine giving up acting and going to help the homeless in India or something along those lines.

But I don't think that's necessary in order to "be of service" to others.

I thought about what Pat had said afterwards, and it struck me that asking myself "How can I be of service?" could be a helpful way of thinking about what I want to do out here, and getting past my fear.

I don't think my being fearful and afraid to move - afraid of conflict, of failure, of not being able do deal with the repercussions of my actions - makes me of much "service" to anyone (Certainly not to myself).

On the contrary, if I get myself "out in the world" more, and work to immerse myself more in the world I claim I want to be part of, that I want to succeed in, I can see where I might provide "service" to lots of people, by entertaining audiences, by helping people to realize their visions, by making new friends, by sharing my knowledge and experiences with others, etc.

I hope the year will provide many opportunities and happy experiences, and that I'll have a lot of career and financial success, and a lot of fun along the way.

But I can't control what happens outside of myself.

So what I want most of all for the coming year is to trust myself, to believe in my own strength, to find the courage to take chances, to live the way I want to live (Which involves something more than just not working a 9-5 job).

And I want to be more loving.

I think that has to start with loving myself, but I do also mean looking toward other people with a kinder, more loving heart.

I think it'll make a difference.

I certainly think it'll make me a happier person.

Well, there's more to say about 2009, but at this point, I think I'm going to take a shower and clean myself up - I'm working three WW meetings tomorrow morning, meaning I have a very early wake-up call, so I think I'm going to cleanse myself now so I can just get up tomorrow, eat, and hop in the car.

Have a great year, everyone...


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