Strange Passions

image via NYT

I re-read this piece from the New York Times whenever I start thinking about what it is I want to do with my life. I'm certainly doing things, but I'm always reassessing, wondering if what I'm is what I want.

And if I'm honest, sometimes I wonder if what I want to do is enough.
Soon after settling on the Upper East Side, I came upon the Fifth Avenue book fair and impulse-bought a copy of “Hirschfeld On Line” — a wonderful collection of Al Hirschfeld’s theater drawings. The next morning, I flipped open the book for the first time to find not a drawing, but a photograph of Hirschfeld sitting in a theater seat, sketching.

An hour after seeing that photograph, I was at a diner with an acquaintance, who asked me, “What are you going to do now that you live in New York?”

“I’ve been thinking of sitting in theater rehearsals and drawing,” I replied.

This response was not considered and the process of thinking about it lasted as long as the train ride from 86th Street to Bleecker Street, but the man to whom I was talking, David Fuller, had just become head of the Jean Cocteau Repertory Theater and he suggested I try it with a production of Goldoni’s “Servant of Two Masters” they were to begin rehearsing the next week.

Sometimes we find our passion by chance, by simply trusting a gut feeling. And to me, sometimes that feels like cheating. But it's the most honest way, I think.

I love this interview with the artist who drew the sketch on this post and wrote the post I linked to earlier.

Question: You use no pencils, nor make any rough drafts. There's a metaphor in there somewhere. Do you plan your drawings or have a preconceived structure before you begin?

Michael: OK--here's the metaphor as I see it. First, I don't really think of myself as an artist: like I said, I was trained as an actor. So drawing to me is like acting in general and specifically improv acting. I don't plan them; I just make a line and it suggests the next line and when I screw that up, I try and save it by making another line until I'm done and there's some art. Or not.It's about presence and being in the moment. I'm not worried about the drawing when I'm making the drawing. I have no idea what the drawing is. I'm only trying to figure out the next line. It's like being on stage without a script and having to make "something wonderful right away" as they used to say at Second City. And, as we all know, theatre is a metaphor for life and all the world's a stage . . . We have no clue what's coming up next; the best we can do is live in the moment and trust that if we're good and do our best, the next moment will take care of itself. I firmly believe this and live in constant fear that it is not true. I live at this neurotic intersection of confidence and fear, and becoming comfortable with that is the secret, if there is one.

I am terrified. I am a fraud. I do not know what I am doing. I have no clue how this will turn out. And there is no way out of the situation except to keep drawing . . .

I guess none of us know how this will turn out. The only way is to keep drawing (or writing, or dancing, or working).