“Sometimes…I miss performing.”
I was having lunch recently with an old friend, an actor currently onstage in an off-Broadway musical. We had performed community theatre shows together decades ago, and it’s wonderful to see him doing what he loves—on Broadway, regionally, and in national tours. I suddenly found myself wistful for the days I used to do plays and musicals, and I told him as much.
“You can still perform,” he replied. “There’s always something out there to do. It doesn’t have to be on Broadway.”
“Maybe one day,” I said, and sheepishly backed away from my original statement.
Sure, there was the ukulele showcase and the impromptu one-off. But these moments have been few and far between. Life gets in the way. There’s commuting to the office, walking dogs, making dinner, running to Costco, doing laundry, catching up on Outlander—all what the kids today call “adulting.” It’s hard to head out to a rehearsal on a weeknight when you can barely stay awake past 9:30.
Plus, in this era of celebrity and competition shows, it can feel like there’s an infinite number of people trying to gain access to a finite number of opportunities or that any of those people are better than you. It’s easy to forget the only requirement to do something is to simply, well, do it. Don’t wait to be an actor, act. Don’t wait to be a singer, sing. Don’t wait to be a writer, just write.
I took my friend’s philosophy with me to our local watering hole recently when my guitar-playing friend, Alan Brace, and I played our first gig as AB,CD.
A half-hour and eight songs later, we’d made our North American debut. That we were even there was part-fluke. Sure, Alan and I had met up a few times and worked on some tunes over the past year. But when my neighbor mentioned she was looking for someone to fill the early slot for a local gig she was organizing in a month, Hubs piped up, “Camille sings with her friend!” Opportunity knocked—or blurted—and I answered. Our “band” was booked on the spot, and the rest, as they say, became a blog post.
The audience was extremely supportive—it helps that it was filled with mostly awesome friends and neighbors—but, best of all, I had my moment where I stopped longing to do something and simply did it. Sure, I could relay a thorough critique of performance jitters—where I was out of breath, where I was a little flat or sharp—but if you were in the audience, you probably didn’t notice or care.
Days later, I found myself onstage again (man, Opportunity sure is knocky!). This time as a reader for the Creative Writing Awards ceremony at Symphony Space in Manhattan (technically, on Broadway), which celebrated the writing of New York City public high school seniors. My company, which sponsors the event, put out the call for actors and I signed up without even thinking. In a quartet of seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds, I read No, a poignant piece by high schooler Keitha Clemon Duhaney that deals with the aftermath of sexual abuse. It was a true honor to interpret her words, and, for another moment, to feel back in my element.
My actor pal was right: It doesn’t have to be big. You don’t have to be on The Voice to find validation. Your passion doesn’t need to be a make-or-break endeavor, (unless you want it to be). Do what gives you joy, what fills up your tank. Don’t wait around for “one day”—a lot of days pass while waiting for “one day” to show up. Invite friends over to read a Shakespeare play. Sign up for an open mike night in your town. Show off your juggling skills for your dogs.
Or you can even get together with your girlfriends for three-part harmony right in your own backyard.
What do you want to do? What are you waiting for?