The Long Game

I am a Blue White Stripe Belt in Tae Kwon Do. This week I will be testing for my Green Belt and if I pass my test I will move one step closer to Black Belt, but it’s still a long road, I have to advance 5 more belts which will take me at least another few years before I get there.

I’ve been practicing the discipline of Tae Kwon Do for several years now. I came to Tae Kwon Do in my forties and at my age this is a challenge even on the best of days and yet it feels like I’ve been a disciple all my life. It’s like I can’t imagine my life without it. Which is exactly how I feel about the craft of acting.

What Tae Kwon Do has taught me and what I didn’t have the patience for or an appreciation of as a young actor was the long game. I am in no hurry to get my Black Belt because I know I will get there. I train at least three times a week with amazing master instructors and when I am not training I am feeling my life through it. Just as I do as an actor and artist.

For me, life is a full experience no matter where I find myself, I am far from perfect, but I truly feel the life I am living. I made a conscious choice to be an artist and to be true to who I am, and no matter where my path leads I will make an effort to experience my life through a creative lens.

And yet as a young actor I felt if I didn’t reach certain plateaus and platitudes (markers that now seem arbitrary and self-defeating) then I was failing. I was in such a hurry that I couldn’t allow myself time to examine and re-examine my experiences and my personal connection to the world around me.

If I had a magic wand I would wave it in front of all the wonderfully talented and exceptional actors that study at Krater Studios and grant them the career they want and deserve overnight!

But the truth is that though some people are lucky and win the lotto most careers take time to develop professionally and creatively. And the two go hand in hand.

As a process the craft of acting takes time to develop (even for the most naturally talented people). An artist’s voice takes time to develop. I believe everyone who comes to the profession of acting has talent. But by no means does this mean that because we feel talented and destined for something that we can forgo the work. If talent isn’t honed and developed it just becomes a personality quirk, and creatively speaking, that will only take your work so far.

Actors develop their craft in two specific ways: on set as working actors or in a classroom with challenging material in an environment that is conducive to connecting you with your artistic voice and who you are as a person and an artist.

If all your plans and goals do not fall into place exactly as you wish this is by no means a measure or a verdict on your talent. The truth is sometimes there is no rhyme or reason as to how things happen. And there are some things that we have absolutely no control over. But, what does belong to us is our creative voice and our talent and as we patiently wait for things to fall into place we continue to grow and move forward as artists. And if you stay the course you will get there. You have to to be committed to the long game. And acting is a long game. Look at how far you’ve come already!

As you are growing, seek out the projects and jobs you know you are right for. Develop projects that speak to your soul and challenge you creatively.

What I love about arriving at the DOJO where I train is that there is a community of martial artists who support one another and help each other attain the goals we are all after.

I also love the fact that today I get to go in and practice my craft, hone my skills, get stronger and more confident in my sparring and really perfect the technical aspects of my Tae Kwon Do training.

Not long ago I was at a tournament and got my ass kicked. It wasn’t pretty. My first impulse after the tournament was over was “Screw this!”, “I’m done!”, as I walked away with my tail between my legs. Did I quit? No! I walk back into my DOJO and was excited for all things I’ve yet to learn and allow myself to grow into. I couldn’t wait to get back in. And I’ll tell you what, I can’t wait to get my ass kicked again and learn more and grow more.

There are many things that we want to say as artist, with time, we will also arrive at not only what we want to say but what needs to be said.

Beckett said “Ever tried. Ever Failed. No matter. Try again. Fail better.”

If you’re in it. … then you have to be in for the long game. Some days you succeed, some days you fail and some days you fail better. But if your are committed to the long game failing better is the secret to long term success!

Paolo
March 18, 2019