|The Cockney Bastard|
Recently I read Michael Caine’s second memoir. His sequel to the first one he wrote in 1992 thinking his career had gone the way of the dinosaur. I find it marvelous that Michael is one of the few actor’s who was lucky enough to find a resurrection in his career. Just when he thought that the leading man, for which he was famous, was no longer within his grasp, life slapped him on the back and told him to quit whining and get back in front of that camera. Having read both memoirs it’s clear that this is a common theme in his life. Continuance. Just when things look bleak, life slaps you in the face and says continue. I hope life does the same for me.
At just about the same time I resigned the leafs of his book to the abyss that is my shelf collection; I lost my day job. Now this job was nothing special, a banal activity to give me a little mula to pay the landlord for my moldy underground shit box, so it was not an emotional loss at all, but it did cause a kind of crisis. Now I had no excuse to stay in Toronto. You see I had always felt kind of out of place in that city. All the stylish folks with their skinny jeans and handle rim glasses seemed to stab their disdain into my chest every time I walked through the cracked streets of downtown. It was like they could tell that my clothes didn’t fit and the body underneath was somehow wrong. I don’t mean wrong in the sense that a malformed beast is wrong. I just mean out of place like a salt shaker on a gourmet chef’s dinner table. I felt useless in the city and, what is more important, that it had no use for me.
Being cast out from a job I hated and without theatrical prospects; I decided to call it quits. No more was I going to force myself to buy into the ‘Toronto store’. I was going to get rid of the junk I had accumulated through years of stupid struggle and launch into the larger world to find myself, yet again. I have done this many times. Myself seems very tough to find.
Was this a good choice? The jury is still out on that one. I have seen no better theatrical prospect, I have felt even more inadequate in that realm. I know that I am suited for it yet still it feels like French to me. There are moments when the stage feels like second nature and there are moments where it feels like I am a fish swimming up stream. The mantra I have been quoting in my head has been from the example of Michael. Survive.
You see throughout his life, in the acting realm, he was beset by people who pegged him as this or that. Some called him too feminine to play butch, others called him too erudite to play working class; an utterly absurd claim as he comes from one of the most poverty stricken lives I have ever read about and I am an avid reader of Dickens. All through this, though, Caine repeated: Survival is key.
It’s really the only important thing in any artistic life; living with art and not allowing life’s pressures to crush you into a slave. Speaking as someone who suffers the creative journey there are many terrible things that you must contend with. They join conference every night and form demons that haunt you. Demons that sit on a panel that judge you for existing. The key is to survive their nightly trials and just continue marching into that great yonder sunshine; hoping one day to find an oasis that will sustain you.
One sentence that sticks out for me in his long busy life: “Just survive and soon you’ll be the last body in the room and all the jobs will come to you no matter if you are right for them or not.”
Though I am a vehement Atheist as anyone with two eyes, ears and knows me, will tell you, there is one valuable thing to take away from the many legends of the religious. That is the idea of tribulation. A prophet goes through many tests to prove his faith. Sadly, in their existence, this “faith” is in something that is absurd. Never minding that it should be admired in a roundabout way. My faith in coming success, no matter how far, bears striking similarity to these zealots. I know if I remain persistent and send out my cover letters and applications, someone, somewhere, will return and allow me to jump from my life’s motorbike to their minivan.
|A depiction of journey of the artist.|
I blame Michael Caine for causing me such an outlook that keeps me from being satisfied with the mundane. I cant work at a banal job or troll the bars for my future spouse because to me it is my self actualization that needs to be recognized above all else. I cannot feel fulfilled by existing only to exist. I am surviving to create and enrich.
Curse you, Caine! You cockney bastard.