I get this question asked a lot. The short answer is; acting is all there is for me. The longer answer is as follows.
Note: This is what I feel now, I may feel different on a future day.
When I identified myself as a programmer, I found it to be too one dimensional at one point. So, got into improv. And Improv got me into acting. I became a programmer because it was the easiest for me, I got into improv because it was an escape from my one dimensional life, but I got into acting because it called to me.
As a programmer, I knew a clear definition of “success” in my work; that is if the application performed as expected. And once you know how to achieve that success over and over again, it becomes a grind to “succeed” over and over again. Sure, at one point “programming” became an art in itself, and it was fulfilling to be recognized for it. Sure, programming gave me the ability to follow logic and result, consequences of choices and understanding systems as standalone as well as part of a whole. And the more and more I saw everything with that perspective, it felt good to know where I stand but it also limited where I can stand. I was in a cage of my own making. I was so comfortable in my cage that I did not want to do anything to rattle that cage. After all, it was my cage; mine.
I still got out of my comfort zone, got into improv (at Second City Toronto) just to challenge myself (and satisfy my ego to see if I can do it). Programming became boring. And I was a programmer. I became boring. See my logic there? I had become one dimensional. So, do something totally different. So, Improv.
I also started being coached at self defense class, with Adam Sutherland at Toronto British JiuJitsu.
Improv helped me to spice up life again, I became a Programmer and an Improvisor. It played a part in getting me out of anxiety and depression. Now why I was depressed and had anxieties has an answer which might be answered in a different post. For now, accept that I was going through rough spots.
Improv helped me to spice up programing as well. I was a programmer who enjoyed improv. But I was still a programmer. Until one day, in one of my improv class, I was given the emotion of sadness and had to incorporate sadness in my performance. The instructor pushed me to bring up sadness to a “10/10” and it was amazing. I genuinely enjoyed crying in front of everyone. I felt free for a few moments. And I that’s when I got a calling. I am meant to be doing this for the rest of my life.
So, I asked around and a few suggested “acting”. Now, I had never considered of being an “Actor” in my life. I was far too intellectual for it. I considered other career such as IT engineer, doctor, physicist, etc but never an “Actor”. Even Improv was supposed to be a side-thing. And I was asked to consider EVN Studios with Earl Nanhu. So I took the opportunity when he offered me a place in his beginners class. Let’s see what happens.
While I was learning how to be an actor, I realized that what I was, wasn’t enough of what I could be. I went through a lot of changes. I had to improve myself, take care of myself in ways that I never thought I should. I took Voice coaching with Lopa Sircar. I started to eat healthier, sleep better (mostly), joined Fuzion MMA and HPC with Yassin Youssef to get bigger. I gave up coffee, gave up junk food. I started to read a lot more, pay attention to events in the world (as much as I can), and research the state of the world. I got started in writing and stand up comedy. There is so much intellectual growth in the smallest of the things, that I am not going to recall. I also started on the path of spirituality (which I later realized that it was always part of us but, that’s for another post). I started to meditate, ask questions of myself and the universe that were far too deep for me, and eventually started to live in that deeper place all the time. Acting also helped me to become emotionally open and intellectually curious. I gained a lot of wisdom and intelligence, let go of my ego (still working on it) and understood myself in this universe.
Acting made me a far better person of me than me. Acting has a lot to offer, if I take it seriously. And I am taking it seriously. I am a far more intelligent and intellectual person than I ever was; have a lot more clarity. There is a a red pill blue pill analogy here, and somehow I managed to take the red pill. Though this has also alienated me from others. Very few people want to interact at the depth that has become my constant abode.
It becomes infuriating when you have clarity and others refuse to see it clearly. Instead, your clarity gets questioned; and becomes even more infuriating. I have been living with a repressed anger for a long time, but that anger has also pushed me to become a better actor. I have become an actor who hasn’t acted in anything substantial; and I am no longer a programmer who has (at the time of writing this) about 12 years of experience programming. What I am getting at is, I am an actor. Anger isn’t good, and to remove my anger I have to ask scary questions of myself, and get over them. I had to let go of who I was, what my ego told me who I was. It felt like losing myself and going to that limbo where I don’t know what I am becoming and it’s scary not knowing who I am. But the only way is forward. Acting forced me to keep going forward.
While going through the journey of becoming an actor, I went through a myriad of reasons of why I need to continue on this path and not give up becoming an actor. I wanted a world stage where I can spread my message of peace and harmony, I wanted to be famous to prove to someone, I saw it as a challenge, I wanted a spotlight for my ego, etc etc etc. But today the reason is simple; I cannot be anything else. Everything else is not enough for me, so I gotta be everything; an actor.
Also, even though I took the red pill and I cannot go back to living blissfully ignorant; I do sometimes hope that I wish I didn’t know enough and lived like an idiot. Ignorance really really feels so blissful. Acting gives me that outlet as well. All characters in stories struggle to find themselves in their fabricated world, in a fabricated set of circumstances and with fabricated set of character traits. This is what makes characters relatable; the struggle to find themselves. You can see character holes in all characters. All characters struggle because they lack the total clarity. Characters are ignorant, and it’s a bliss to watch them; mostly. And I get to express myself fully because in real life we are seldom encouraged to act out all our emotional outbursts. I get to be free, in a fantasy world. It is my escape from the real life make belief nightmarish prison of greed and stupidity.
I also have a lot to grow, and acting gives me that medium to do so. I have to be like water, take the shape of whatever character I am to become. This trait is really essential to life, as a living being. And I am fully committed to becoming the better me, and at this moment it’s through acting. When I say acting, it’s not just what is done in front of the camera, it’s all about what I have to do to get ready for the work in front of the camera.
My other option than acting is to become nothing; a monk. Go an live in seclusion as much as I can, or go a temple or live in a cave somewhere in the Himalayas and meditate. As enticing as it sounds to me, that option calls me less than acting. May be one day it might, but not day.
Acting is all I’ve got. Acting is all there is for me. It is it.