Monday, July 11, 2011

courage is the first virtue, without it you can't practice the others (samuel johnson)


i've carried this aphorism around for years. tough to practice, as by nature i'm a wimp, non-confrontational, get along, don't make waves kind of guy. i can only think of three times in my adult life where i may have practiced it.

the first shouldn't count. i joined the coast guard reserve to avoid being a foot soldier in vietnam. arriving at bootcamp on government island , alameda, california i had no idea what i was getting in for, not until i reported to the duty desk, lowering my arms to rest them, when the second mate yelled, "get up against that wall, face it! stand at attention and don't move until told to do so."  during the next three months i learned what it was like to be a convict and a slave. a very valuable lesson, and maybe a bit of courage did help me get thru it.

the second rather tame by comparison. the first time i landed some unemployment compensation, my girlfriend said, "get some therapy." i didn't have to ask why, i already knew. okay, i picked a name out of the phonebook, and as i stepped across the threshold, i said to myself, "my god, i'm actually asking for help." that first session disappeared into limbo, but not the feeling in my chest when i exited. i realized i was experiencing fear and that it more than likely had been with me my whole life.

the third example also a false one, perhaps. in 1995 i felt isolated and at loose ends. what could i do to get out of myself and rejoin humanity? theater, of course, came to mind, my second great love, yet i hadn't practiced it in a very long time. CITY OF ANGELS, PREVIEW TO AUDITIONS. that notice at the university kindled a bit of a spark. so i went, listened to the director and his assistants outline the musical and the process to be.  INTERMISSION. i walked out on campus, under the moon and trees, and thought, "i can't do this." but for whatever reason i re-entered. actors practiced the songs around the piano, and a miracle happened. bill johnson, the director, strode up to ask who i was and struck up a conversation. little did i know, of course, he wanted some old guy to lie in an iron lung on a big stage in a 1200 seat theater, which i ended up doing. this led to another bout of theater for twelve years.

i just watched this video: