LOS ANGELES v NEW YORK

February 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

It hit me a couple of days ago. What I miss about New York.

I’ve spent a lot of time (too much, in fact) looking back on my years in New York. What am I, an old man?? Reflection is a dangerous cocktail to drink; it only ever serves us when it helps us to clear the brush preventing us from moving forward. Most of my reflection has itself been the obstacle for me, so I have largely abandoned the practice.

However, one thing I discovered about my time in New York has opened the way for me these last two days.

I’ve often wondered why discipline has been more of a challenge out here. Not even discipline- just simple self-care. One often hears of actors coming to LA and disappearing into a morass of depression and inaction. Speaking for myself, I have to say that the one thing that was a constant for me in New York, often provided simply by the city itself, is:

stimulation.

Not entertainment, mind you. That’s passive. We all get more than enough ‘entertainment’ in our lives. I remember my acting teacher in New York saying to us all, ‘from now on, there is no more entertainment for you.’ That was excessive, but I see her point. Creative stimulation is what feeds and nourishes us as artists, whether we call ourselves artists or not.

For me personally, it’s about being in the creative arena. We may complain about working with people who annoy us or with whom we fundamentally disagree, but finding a way to solve problems in concert with those people is enormously stimulating. We may find our hopes dashed or feel rejected in offering our work to the world, but the process of putting ourselves out there on a daily basis brings its own reward. I am a sound sleeper as a rule, but when I find myself awake at 5 am, thinking about all the things I could be doing, I know that I’m not spending enough time ‘going to the volcano’ as someone once said.

It was reassuring to know that New York, magnificent as it is, didn’t hold some special creative elixir that was no longer available to me here in Los Angeles. Maybe the more challenging (and possibly more rewarding) lesson right now is that as artists, we need to be creating our own
volcanic arenas in which to take flight.

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