Perseverance

It's fathers day.  I have to admit I am not one for the rituals of these sorts of holidays yet this morning I did find myself pondering what it means to me to have a dad and what it is that I find value in celebrating with relationship to what I have learned from him.  To truly share the whole story would fill a book as the story of my life is not only intrinsically connected to the story of my father but to his father and his fathers father and so forth until the beginning of time.  When I think of my father I cannot help but to think of his father whom I was very close to, and all day my thoughts have been with both of these men who added great value to my life.Yesterday I spent the afternoon in the cool and dark walls of the Metta Theatre where I have been taking a once monthly acting workshop with some lovely and talented actors as well as a fantastic teacher who is doing as all good teachers do, and is asking great questions that push me beyond my comfort zone and into an opportunity to find more skillfulness in my actions as well as know my weaknesses and strengths as an actor acting for film. Acting, like yoga, is a spiritual practice, a request to be in the flow with present moment awareness and what is happening in the now. Like yoga, there are places that are comfortable and easy, and places where all the voices of my inner world scream stop, leave, run while you can. Over the course of my life I have done a reasonable amount of acting and mostly I have felt good about it. I have for much of my life held onto the dream of one day doing it for a living. The thing about that dream is that it's a scary one, one that holds a lot of contention in my mind as being unsafe and unstable, as well as bringing up much fear around am I good enough? Am I good enough has been a question I have asked myself too many times in my life. I like to think I am not alone in the experience of self-doubt and that the feeling of insecurity is something that I share with all other beautiful seeking people of this world. Thinking of the experience as a shared one brings me comfort and helps me to walk through this life with less feelings of shame. Within the framework of my self-doubt rather than continue to treat myself like a failure as I have for the last ten years and never try, I have felt the room in my courageous heart and have made a choice of confident curious willingness in my mind to jump the hurdle of fear and go to this class. In class I have been working on a role that is not within my comfort zones as an actor and I am being invited to do more than what comes easy to me. There is a funny catch 22 to what I am learning about film acting. The work is in not working. The gem, the gold, is in the expression of the real experience, not a state of just acting it out. My efforts yesterday were good, however, afterward I felt like a failure and in the wake of feeling like a failure I felt devastated. The devastation I felt I had not experienced in many years. Again the question of the dream and the value of the dream and the quality of my ability to successfully accomplish the dream came to the forefront of my awareness, and not only left me wondering, but left me flattened in a state of self-pity and self-doubt. Despite my desires to see the experience objectively I could not help but spend a period of time in tears. Luckily for me, I have a wonderful marriage to a wonderful man, Mr. Oswald, who is rational and steady and he provided a listening ear for me to tell my tails of woe to. As I talked it out, which is great medicine for feeling bad about yourself because you hear how silly and mean you may sound, what I found to be more upsetting that the self-doubt, was the challenge I was having with the stage most people call learning. In the wake of my silly childlike self-pity was a realization that I had just fallen down and I had an opportunity to pick myself up, dust myself off, and tell myself to get back on the bike. When I was five my dad got me my first bicycle. At the time we were living with my grandparents in Minnesota and I clearly remember the day that he and G-pa assembled its pieces. It wasn't long before my sister and I insisted the training wheels come off. Within minutes of my training wheels coming off I was out of control headed down hill and lacking the required knowledge of the use of the skills to stop. I hit a curb, went over the handlebars and tore up my face. I left the bike at the end of the cul-de-sac and ran home crying and crying in terrible shock and pain. Dad cleaned up my face, and hugged and loved me up. I said I would never ride my bike again. Dad insisted I would before putting the training wheels back onto the bike. It was over a year before I was ready to take them off again. I remember the spring day in Taos when they did, finally, at long last, come off for good. The lilacs were blooming and dad, Angelica, and I went and got donuts at Micheal's Kitchen, it was a good ride. That was my first lesson in perseverance. Then when I was fourteen, I decided that playing on the first ever Taos High School Girls Soccer Team was the best idea ever. About three weeks into practice I was having a miserable time, though in theory the idea was good, in reality I didn't have the necessary skills to play like the bad ass I thought I was. Not only did I not have the skills, I perceived the coach as not very nice to me, and I was having a hard time learning the dexterity it took to play the sport well. One night I came home from practice and cried and cried to my dad, "I want to quit!" I remember telling him within a cloud of self-pity. He calmly responded "Don't quit, you won't get anything out of it if you quit. Besides it will feel really good to get really good and then if you still don't like your coach, and you don't want to play, quit." That night we started an evening ritual of passing the ball in the street. By the end of my second season on the team, I had actually become a descent player. The team went to state that year and I scored the only two goals of that adventure, one of which was a header, that one I am still really proud of. Within months I was thrown through the windshield of a truck at sixty miles per hour and the first thing I asked when I came to on the side of the road in excruciating pain because of my severely broken back was "Will I ever play soccer again?" No one answered. Perseverance is continuing no matter what adversity you face, and as I layed in that hospital bed with the wordless prognosis I refused to believe I would not walk again. Ten days later I was released from the hospital and demanded they let me out of my wheelchair so I could walk out the front door. I did walk through that door with my dad supporting me, and I walked all the way to the car about forty paces away with perseverance, willfulness, and pride. That first season of soccer after the accident was a definite no as it took three months for dad and I to walk the few short blocks up to the plaza. Dad walked with me every day, and by the next season I was much better. The doctors told me I could play that season though they did not recommend such an activity as there was a potential to re-injure or injure above my spinal fusion. Being the willful and persistent girl I am, no wasn't an answer I was excited to hear, so I went to practice one beautiful fall afternoon. I kicked the ball farther that afternoon than I ever had kicked it before, I'll never forget it. I kicked the ball so far the coach was nicer than he had ever been. As I walked away from practice that night in the sunset in discomfort and pain from the running as well as the knowing my soccer career was over, I also knew my dad was right when he said it would feel better to quit when I had gotten something out of it for myself than it would have way back before, when I was just in a state of self-pity. This morning, after what I like to call "having a big girl talk with myself" last night, I felt over my self-doubt and self-pity, and was back in alignment with my attitude of a willingness to persevere no matter the outcome, I thought of my dad and the valuable things I have learned from him that I wanted to celebrate today. Weather its getting back on the bike, sticking with the soccer team, getting up and walking again, or perusing life-long scary dreams, perseverance is getting up, dusting yourself off, and taking another crack at it, especially when all odds are against you. Because that's when you gain, that's when you get to know what you are made of, and as far as I have experienced in this life, that's where the satisfaction in the feeling of success and accomplishment resides. Thanks dad, dad's dad, dad's dad's dad, Mr. Oswald, Mr. Oswald's dad, and all the men who persevered so I could "stand up on my own two feet" as dad likes to say, with "my shoulders back" as G-pa used to say, proud of who I am, persevering with my courageous heart, willing mind, tenacious spirit, and capable body, free to be me. Happy Sunday, Happy Fathers Day, May you always persevere in the face of adversity and continue to follow you hearts desire. With Love, All Ways, For Giving, Genevieve