Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Only Thing That Trickles Down is Attitude

I was talking with S.O. the other night about my failed acting career - a subject that comes up way to often for his taste no doubt. It is a subject that bothers me, a lot. Some psychologists/therapist/counselors or Dr. Phil promote dissecting and event in one's life in order to come to some conclusion or closure perhaps. I'm sure there are some out there that think one ought to just drop it and move on (I would guess that would be the therapist S.O. would send me to) but they don't get TV shows so...

And then driving to work it occured to me that my (relative, i.e. not being able to make a living at it, NOT a qualitative judgement) failure as an artist is a family legacy. It seems there has always been a struggle between intellectual pursuits and artistic ones. Intellectual have thus far won out not necessarily to the good either.

My Grandmother told me several times when she was alive that she dearly wanted to be a ballet dancer but that was "just not something her father was going to let her do". My Grandfather was a jazz musician in his teens and twenties, playing both piano and stand up bass. I always wanted their baby grand in my house, but alas, when they died I did not own a house and even now that I do it would have taken up the entire living room!

My uncles too have experienced the push pull of income vs. art. My youngest uncle was a painter and a musician and gave it a go in his early years. At some point he moved to my grandparents' neck of the woods and all his artistic pursuits slid away until he was at the very end of his life. His very last painting, which he did shortly before he died hangs in my foyer. It is a painting of three cups. Any of your who know anything about tarot cards know that three of cups means celebration. I look at that painting and always think the message he is sending is "Celebrate the life you have"... It is sad to think that he left off his art and music until the very end... maybe instead the message is "celebrate your art".

We all have some 'art' whether it be writing or performing, dancing, singing, knitting, gardening. Don't we just get wrapped up in how unsuccessful our art is? And why is that?

My oldest uncle struggled with intellectual pursuits - he is IQ wise a genius and went to Berkeley where he left off intellectual pursuits for more personal ones.

Ironically, my Grandfather, who was by all estimations outside himself a successful professor. He taught at UC Berkeley, San Francisco State and finished his career at USC. His emphasis was the Middle East and something akin to a chaos theory applied to international relations. He was consulted by presidents, sultans and CEOs. He made a handsome living, had a nice house, a vacation home, a wife, three kids. But he never felt successful or appreciated in his career. It is a sad irony to have left off a pursuit you love in order to do what is 'right' or expedient and then end with such a feeling of dissatisfaction.

Although I continue to pursue art at several angles it is the acting that always feels like a let down. I always felt as if I were trying in a vacuum, as if everyone else out there knew just what to do to 'make it'. And I always felt there was a lack of support from my family - not that they weren't obstensively enthusiastic (families mostly tell you what you want to hear), they were. But there was something under the surface - skepticism, perhaps. I am entirely too sensitive not to have absorbed this and taken it to heart. Which leads me to my title, the only thing that really trickles down is attitude. We are all willing to share our opinions and energy with each other, no matter how destructive they may be. I guess there was not much support in my family for me to become a 'crazy actress' as I remember my Grandfather once saying.


demondoll said...

My question is why must the two pursuits be mutually exclusive? Are not some of the great artists also intellectuals?

Yella said...

Oh sure, but if you distain art in favor of intellectualizm because you feel others would 'approve of it more' or accept you more, as my grandfather did then you end up with untenable conflict that indeed trickles down to the rest of the family.

demondoll said...

That's an awful legacy- you come from a mighty gifted family, and you're a big talent yourself. I hope you find your path. (And when you do, drop a few phosphorous stones to light my way- your post hits close to home)