There's a vision you have on the outside of the thing you want.
That vision features you, well-lit and peaceful, in the perfect clothing, with perfect teeth and perfect health, enjoying your perfect Perfection as you achieve that thing before a perfectly adoring audience.
The clothing varies, depending on the pursuit of the visionary, and whether or not the Peak Vision involves a red carpet and a televised awards ceremony; the audience may or may not be directly visible, depending on the thing (but always, if we are honest, an adoring public is involved, preferably one chastened by their own shortsightedness in recognizing such genius so late in the game).
In other words, details may change from person to person, dream to dream, but one thing remains constant: on the outside, you see the finished product, not the hours and days and weeks and years of tedium, of toil, of pushing the c@#ksucking boulder up the motherf%@king hill, and especially not the particularly craptacular scenes of you loosing your footing and having the c@#ksucking boulder roll back down the motherf%@king hill, over your goddam toes.
For me, there is a lot of tedium around anything that requires me to leave my comfortable home, including fun things. It was not always thus; when I lived the luxurious life of a working actor (don't laugh, it WAS luxurious!), I looked forward to leaving the house. Reveled in it! And when I was in the last stages of recuperation from my Crohn's onset, well, I was like the proverbial B-movie publicity whore: I would get dolled up to go to the opening of a door.
Now that I am working on a new thing, however, one that demands ferocious quantities of brain juice, with a lot of tedious but necessary grunt work thrown in for good measure, going out is the last thing on my mind. Sorry, second-to-last thing: sex is probably last. Good thing The BF is up to his very own eyeballs in boulder-pushing these days.
I go, I go. And usually, after the excruciating effort of overcoming inertia has passed, it ends up being tolerable, or even pleasurable. Today, for instance, I hauled my middle-aged carcass out of bed and drove it to one of Jeff Pulver's legendary breakfasts, at one of my favorite delis (Nate'n'Al's) in one of my least favorite neighborhoods (Beverly Hills) to meet a bunch of other Internet nerds, one of whom rather oddly and stubbornly refused to self-identify as such. No matter. The rest of the gang turned out to be fun and interesting; a few, I suspect, may go on the short list of Fine & Excellent Acquaintances Worth a Trip to Visit in Person. (And breakfast itself, it goes without saying, was superb. I mean, come on, Nate'n' fucking Al's, for chrissakes!)
The rest of the day was pleasant enough, if not clips-reel-worthy: a trip to the post office, a visit from a new acquaintance, some work, some emails. Mundane. Unexceptional.
Except if you unpack those simple, humble events, some rather more noteworthy things bubble up to the surface. Gently, most of them, because really, what kind of big thing is it to mail a small gift to a book editor in New York City? Not much, until you think that a year and a half ago, you didn't know any book editors in New York City, much less one who'd become friend and champion enough that you felt a small gift upon the occasion of a new and better job would be an appropriate gesture.
Nothing unusual, either, about a visit from a new acquaintance, except that this person happens to be a fellow traveler whom you met randomly at a friend's holiday party, someone who gave up a monied career for the life of an itinerant guitar player (and not at 20, and not at 30), and that he's coming over to try on the tuxedo which belonged to your beloved paternal grandfather, which tuxedo you've been carting from place to place since his death over 10 years ago, never quite able to put it in the pile for the consignment shop or Goodwill, and of course, it fits perfectly, which is a strange and wonderful sort of omen, in a way.
The work is just monkey work you've done a million times now, but you do it so easily and it makes the person on the other end so grateful, you almost forget that you are completely self-taught in it, that you didn't know how to open Photoshop or Illustrator 10 years ago, much less do anything with them, and now they are part of the odd but sturdy net that holds you up to do the rest of it.
And email? You get email everyday. But one of them this day is an invitation to sit on a panel of experts, the rest of whom actually look like experts, and talk about this crazy thing you love, that again, you were just Wasting Time on 10 years ago, the Internet.
There is a saying one of my old acting teachers used to use that confounded me for years: "the root of the thing is never the thing itself." Which, in acting terms, means that two people arguing about a misplaced sock aren't really arguing about a misplaced sock.
I like to look at this saying another way, though, and in a more forwardly direction. And that is that the thing you think you are going after is not the thing you're really after. After all, after that thing, there is always another Thing. Ask Meryl Streep. Ask Warren Buffett. Hell, ask any of your Internet-famous types, for that matter. What you are going after is the going and the doing, and guess what, cowboy? That includes all that crap you hate. The overcoming inertia. The hours of tedium. That's what they mean by it being about the journey; it's about living every second of that journey, tedious and hateful parts included, full out and 100% there. Huzzah!
I realize that sometimes, it sounds like I hate what I'm doing, or am tired of what I'm doing, or am frustrated by the Doing not getting me to the Thing fast enough, whatever the Thing of the moment is. And in those moments, that is the absolute truth. Which sucks, but there it is.
And then (glory be) in the next moment, all is right again. Tedious, perhaps. Fun sometimes. Occasionally? It even matches the vision.
But I will tell you this. I had a vision more in my heart than my head some 20 years ago, long before I thought moving to L.A. was in my future, and an eternity away from any clue about what a life here might look like. That's the best I can describe it: a vision in my heart, walking around Westwood on my own during a production trip, and smelling L.A. air in January. It's a unique smell, the mix of Santa Ana wind and dry heat and whatever nearby brush is blooming. It smells like possibility to me and always has.
And today, walking around, time collapsed in on itself as I smelled that smell again. In that moment, I remembered that whatever else happens in the next moment, I am living the part of my life that I dreamed of, and I love it every bit as much as I felt in my heart I would.
I was not wearing anything special. My eyes and teeth and health are all a bit dodgier than they were when I had the vision. Believe me, there was no audience, adoring or otherwise, anywhere in sight.
Best. Moment. Ever.
Until the next one...