Good morning and happy Sunday to you!
What are grateful for on this beautiful morning? Take a moment and really answer that question because the answer is a gift – an amazing gift, and it’s free!
I had the most blessed weekend being a dreamer and actor, and that’s what I’m grateful for.
You see, on Friday and Saturday evening I had the honor of performing Vincent, my one-man show written by Leonard Nimoy, at my studio in San Francisco. The theater was packed full of students, alumni, friends, family, and complete strangers.
It was an extremely nostalgic experience for me because twenty years earlier, almost to the day, I walked onto a stage in Kona, Hawaii and performed Vincent for the very first time.
What a night that was!
I’d like to tell you it was one of the most beautiful, incredible evenings in my life, but it wasn’t. My opening night was THE worst show that I ever did in my twenty years of doing touring Vincent.
I should have quit. It was that bad.
Thank god I didn’t.
I’ll never forget how I felt in my dressing room prior the show. I was so excited, exhilarated, and happy.
Then I walked on stage, and it was all downhill from there.
In the first twenty minutes everything that could go wrong, technically, went wrong. And just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, a fire broke out across the street in an old building, and every fire truck on the Big Island of Hawaii arrived with their sirens wailing to put it out.
The WAAAAAIIIILLLLING went on and on, and it soon became the play about the fire trucks because it didn’t stop until the end of the first act.
Unfortunately, this was the good news.
I crawled into my dressing room for intermission to regroup. All of “my people” came back to assure me it was not as bad as it seemed.
Sweet liars. Every single one of them.
I wanted to quit right then and there, but instead I went out for round two.
The second act was actually a beautiful comeback, and I could tell the audience was finally into it and no longer distracted.
And then it happened – the bad news.
Right near the end of the play, at the most dramatic section of the show, where I’m talking about how Vincent died in my arms, a tropical storm showed up and began to hammer down rain on the tin roof of this 100-year-old theater.
At first I tried to talk over it. Impossible.
Then I actually tried to shout over it. Pathetic.
I finally did the only thing I could do: wait until it stopped. I literally just sat there on the stage, by myself, staring out at 388 people as they stared back at me.
Several people got up and left because they didn’t know when this pounding, torrential rain was ever going to stop.
Me neither. And believe me, if I could have left, I would have too.
But I waited.
And waited (I’m told it was for twenty minutes. I swear it was a week and a half).
To say it killed the moment would be an understatement. It annihilated it.
Fiiiiiiiiinally the rain stopped. I finished the show, walked off the stage and into my dressing room where I sat and cried until no more tears would fall. They were tears of frustration, exhaustion, and humiliation.
I wanted to quit. I wanted to cancel the rest of the run and never do this play again.
Instead I walked back onto that stage the next night, finished the run, and twenty years later I have the most beautiful life because of this show. In fact, my life and career have been forever changed because of Vincent.
As I drove home I thought about that opening night twenty years before and thought, “Man, what if I had quit? What if I didn’t have the mental toughness to keep going when it all sucked so badly? When it was so difficult and horrible and shitty?”
And then I thought of where I am right now with my film, which is in the process of raising $700,000 by July 1st. It has been a really difficult week and ALL I want to do is quit.
But I won’t. And I have my opening night of Vincent-hell to thank for that.
What do you want to quit that you swore you’d never quit?
Your dream? A relationship? What?
Sanford Meisner once said, “When you’re ready to quit something you swore you’d never quit, wait one day. If you feel that way tomorrow, then ok, but wait one day.”
If you’re struggling right now with something that is important to you, my hope is that something I’ve shared here helps you.
I believe in you, and this world needs you. So keep going.
My love and best, Jim