Have you ever come across a saying that just struck you like a bolt of lightning? One that you knew you couldn’t get out of your head no matter what? Well, one of the best expressions I’ve ever come across was a in a small artsy gift shop in Provincetown, Massachusetts over a decade ago. It resonated with me so much that I’ve carried it carefully with me in the form of a magnet on my fridge through chaotic moves to Canada and back again to the US as well as with multiple moves within my home state of Florida. It is simply Marta Kagan’s “Listen to your heart above all other voices”.
I guess I chose this because, as creatives, there are many voices inside our hearts at any given moment, both positive and negative (e.g., the imposter voice, the ‘I can’t keep doing this’ voice, or the ‘I’ve got this’ voice). The voice we listen to can change depending upon the day, the environment, or our personal interactions. No one told me when I was younger and dreamt about being an actress and singer that it was normal for these voices to come and go and that you should learn to trust yourself as you rode the waves of inconsistency and fickleness that can be part of any creative endeavor.
It was because of this lack of trust and faith in myself and the frequent feelings of doubt and inadequacy that I, too often, chose what I thought was stability and security over the urge to just ‘go for it’. I thought that others knew better than me and that I should learn and wait for when I was ready—whenever that would be. I played at the corners of my dream with some on-camera and theater auditions as well as many classes, but I never felt brave enough to jump into the deep end. I also looked on with envy over the years as I heard or saw others persevere through disappointments and non-happenings to break through and achieve their dreams.
Fast forward many years. Because, you know, time marches on even if you stay in one place. I don’t know why it takes some of us so long to realize that there is NO stability or security in life. That, in itself, is a mirage of the mind. I’ve come full circle to the simple truth that I love acting, and I want to pursue it. I accept that whether I achieve success or not depends on me and my unwillingness to settle or give up. I know I am worthy of having my dream. If I fail, I will learn and I will have no regrets.
I still work at a day job, but I also pursue my dream of acting. I smile as I go through the Meisner exercise of repetition and the research of finding a suitable monologue. I relish the text as I stand in my vocal booth and interpret the script for the appropriate genre. I even manage to get satisfaction from the sometimes frustrating audio editing process
I keep a picture of my younger self above my desk in my studio, and as I work, I frequently talk to her. I remind myself that the only real negative in life is the regret of never trying for what you want. I wish I had had my present self to tell me back then that the best joy in life was to take that chance, shrug off the cloak of insecurity, and listen to your heart. In my interactions today with people and conversations about dreams and careers, I reiterate that saying, knowing that each time I say it cements it further into my own heart and mind. I am writing this because I hope everyone will treat time as precious and their heart’s passion as the ultimate treasure.
May we all have the wisdom and courage to know we are worthy to chase and catch our dreams.