Sometimes, it’s okay to pull off the masks and just be, right? It’s perfectly OK to just live in the moment and be who you are, right then and there–in the seat that you’re sitting in, in the line in which you’re standing; with the potato chip in your hand, the bar you’re leaning against, the toilet you’re sitting on, the towel that you’re folding or the gum stuck to your shoe.
It’s OK to be mad, sad, frustrated, scared, happy, orgasmic, stupid, senile, distracted, confused, tired, driven, withdrawn, outgoing, closeted, loose, enraptured, self-deluding, smug, or damned.
Masks off and removed; unguarded, shields down. Pretense discarded.
The hardest pretense is letting go of expectations–not of what we expect from others, but what we expect of ourselves–what my mom used to call the “Iffa Coulda Woulda Shouldas.” We try so hard to steer our ship to what we want to happen in our life, what we planned to happen in our life; we match our course to where we thought we wanted to go, and not to where we’re going.
I’m guilty of it. And you probably are too, to some extent.
I had been planning to write something well put together about my personal history being a dog owner (and I still might) (Yes, I sometimes plan what I’m writing. It’s not all from the hip… I do in fact have some that brew for a couple of days…sometimes), but I ended up distracted with chores, life and then (of course) the internet.
I ended up discovering an amazing youtube channel about character actors and bit parts called No Small Parts. It’s created by an actor who has taken many small parts, and has managed to steadily work. It’s a passion project, to say the least, but if you have any love of film of TV (like me), then it’s worth a look. You’ll grok it, I’m sure.
So, rather than visiting the dryer in the washroom (sorry, wife), I’m devouring the videos there–20 minute documentaries on faces that you probably know, but–with a couple of exceptions–probably don’t know or remember their names. It’s compelling, and to be honest, in one case at least, beautiful.
Mask off, being in the moment.
I sifted through videos and came across a short “mini-sode” from the spring last year about the late character actor Taylor Negron. Taylor was the epitome of “That Guy.” You know:
“Don’t I know you?”
“Maybe, did you ever watch those Savage Steve Holland movies during the 80s?”
“HOLY CRAP! You’re THAT GUY! In that movie with…YEAH! Hey, Beverly! Tom! It’s THAT GUY! from that movie we saw over at your mom’s house!”
I sat watching the video trying to figure out where exactly I remembered him from, and I *did* remember him–and then it hit me as they flashed a clip–“YEAH! He was the Mailman from Better Off Dead!” (Yes, “That Guy.”) With each clip from the video, I recalled him again and again and again, and I thought “Man, this guy was everywhere.”
But, in his own words, from the article in which the video takes its voice, he was never famous. Never really sought fame. He had changed his expectations early on, to just ride where he was, what he was, and enjoy that ride.
The end of the video and article forced me to share this; brought tears to my big stupid mug, like a waitress bringing coffee to that guy who’s obviously been up all night. For some reason (many storied reasons that I’m just going to keep to myself, OK?), it touched home, resonated and invited me to remove my own mask for a moment. To just be in this moment, of a guy sitting, procrastinating and watching YouTube like a procrastinating jerk.
“By letting go of what you thought was going to happen in your life, you can enjoy what is actually happening.”
We’ve heard it before. It’s not new, or original; you probably know the quote from Yoda or the other one from Doc Holiday, that one Jesus Jones song; but it is insightful. It’s insight from a man who lived (at least his career) in such a way.
It’s food for thought. It’s food for thought that hit me, sitting here, now. And I wanted to share it with you.
We have to evolve to this–at least I need to. It’s easy to forget that we are here, on a big planet spinning ’round, and orbiting Sol. We are infinite monkeys, typing on infinite typewriters attempting to write the story of us; but instead of evolving to just write what comes, we’re trying to write our histories as we would design them.
Sometimes history happens. Sometimes it’s better to stop, watch and be in the moment. Take the picture and post it to instagram without a filter; tweet raw without editing, or counting characters; typing up a blog without thinking about it at all; writing the directions down and following a sheet of paper without google maps telling us which way to go.
Listening to the wind without documenting it. Looking at your child without a camera in your hand. Spending an afternoon with your family without a phone in your pocket.
Sharing your thoughts without pretense, or design, as it comes, stream of conscious, here and now.
Evolving to be proud, here in what we are, where we are; not denying ourselves the desire to be greater, or more, but to sometimes–from time to time–to look around and appreciate what we are and what we have.
Trying to be That Guy.