My old Chicago acting teacher and mentor, Kurt Naebig, warned us early on to never complain about the industry. Never, ever moan and groan about jobs or the lack thereof. His words, “The industry didn’t choose you. You chose it.”
He was right.
So why do we stop choosing?
If we chose to be artists, which is the biggest decision we could make, shouldn’t we expect to continue to make choices throughout our entire artistic lives? Choices about the material we’re passionate about. The material we stand behind. The material we absolutely have to manifest and share with others.
Or did we think that all our choices would be made for us?
In his best-seller Start With Why, author Simon Sinek argues that the best companies and organizations, the ones we remember, are those that have a clear sense of purpose. Their “Why” supersedes their “What.” Their products and services exist because of their “Why.” Mission before Action.
What if we did that for ourselves? As artists, what if we really honed in on our “Why” for creating. What if we had our own personal mission statement? Not just cool words on a page. But something we believed to our core.
I’m guessing that we would then get clarity on what projects we wanted to make. And with whom.
And our output, our choices, would reflect that clarity.
And then maybe, just maybe, we’d have a shot at being remembered. By the right people. For the right reasons.
“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do, say and think.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Memento Mori is an ancient practice of reflecting on our own mortality. Reflections manifested in all art forms–paintings (like the image above), songs, writings (the Stoics and others), etc….even Walt Disney made his own personal Memento Mori cartoon.
Rather than scare us, Memento Mori should free us. It should free us into taking that leap. Making that decision. Producing that play.
If you know your days are numbered, why not do it? What do you have to lose? What’s stopping you?