One of the keys to my state of relative happiness or at least contentment in the last several years is that I gave up my lifelong dream of becoming famous. Yes, that's an oversimplification, but it's pretty much true. I didn't just realize that; it's been a mostly conscious process. Well, I guess I should say that it was conscious once it started, but it was instigated by events I had no, or little, control over. Which is to say, failure.
There's some kind of equation I'm sure to calculate the tipping point, where that dream stops being a sustaining, energizing force in one's life and turns into more of a frantic, unreasonable need. I reached that point around the age of 40. And, though it sounds very sad when I state it like this and yes it is very sad in some meaningful way, it's a paradoxical sadness because I have been happier by far in the last eight years than I was before that. Not that I didn't have some incredible highs, but they were, in hindsight, too costly.
But ... I've been thinking recently about my feelings regarding this revival of Lizzie Borden and realizing, to my consternation, that I have not completely let go of that dream of fame. In fact, I must be honest and admit that a great part of my excitement about this new production is that it means, for me, that there is still a chance for a big hit. Of course, I'm also just thrilled to have a chance to do the work. There's always that, and I don't mean to minimize how important that is to me. It's huge, and, in any practical sense, it's really all. I feel lucky beyond measure that I've had the chance to do good work in my life. But there's still that itching need for recognition.
(Maybe that need is never satisfied. After all, I did have a certain level of reknown with Y'all, and with Life in a Box, and even, looking back, with all the downtown theater I did in New York in the eighties and nineties.)
When I think about it, when I'm honest with myself, that little bit of surviving dream is also key to my contentment. So, giving it up and holding on to it are both necessary. There's a puzzler.