As an artist, I was always taught that the job of an actor is to find and maintain a state of truthfulness on the stage. To experience stage life for the first time, moment to moment, night after night.
Off stage, I live out my real life as a mother everyday. Most of my moment to moment realities consist of worrying how to pay the bills on time, making the groceries stretch, researching middle schools, basketball games, cheerleading practice and keeping my head over water in efforts to preserve my artistic self in the process.
Once you are born an artist, you are always an artist. I took a pregnancy pause from acting that has turned into a five-year hiatus. Now that Soleil is in school I have space and opportunity to pursue the craft, yet I never seem to move forward. Why haven’t I taken any action in getting a new headshot or return to class. My mind has convinced me that I am waiting to lose more weight, but my spirit confides that I am plagued with my own inner insecurities. Was the hiatus too long? Am I too old? Do I still have “It”.
I have dreamed of becoming a well established writer. Writing was my muse as early as second grade. Although I enjoy writing blogs, I often find myself reading through manuscripts of unfinished literary pieces, waiting to collaborate into a book of memoirs. I am the beautiful run on sentence in desperate need of a period so that one chapter doesn’t flow into another.
As a mother and an artist I often feel like a hamster on a wheel, always ending up in the same place. I start comparing my life to those whom I went to school with, their accomplishments and prestige. In the process I dig myself deep in a dark hole. They say it’s always darkest before the dawn. My morning light crept through the crevices one September weekend.
It was a weekend planned with the usual itinerary, a basketball scrimmage and AAU tryout for Vaughn and open house for the YMCA for Soleil.
The best part of being a parent is watching your child reach higher levels of greatness in pursuit of their dreams. That day, I watched Vaughn in awe, as he played an exemplary game in basketball. He embodied the grit and grim, the urban flair of street ball I grew up on, in the concrete basketball courts of my neighborhood.
Earlier that morning, his father had a last-minute coaching session with him over the phone. He told Vaughn that he needed to work on being a scorer. He stepped into the gym with his game face on and by the end of the day scored twelve points, five assists and a team victory. It was such a defining moment for him. His dad wasn’t privy to see the game due to work, so I felt honored to see him play. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like if I wasn’t there to see it. He was like my acting teacher’s instructions. His mind, body and soul was invested in the game, moment to moment.
After the victory, we took Soleil to get her face painted. She sat patiently as the artist’s brush created pink lines across her cinnamon skin. When she rose from the chair, she was the epitome of happiness. Such a small gesture meant the world to her. Face painting was followed by a hip hop class where Soleil promptly kicked off her shoes and eagerly learned choreography. I video taped the moment of course, like the proud momma I am! Soleil was dance, from her head down to her tiny bare feet.
On Sunday, Vaughn played phenomenally and earned himself a spot on a AAU team, this time the whole family was there to support him. He mastered crossing over and made a tear drop left hand lay up to the basket.
We spent the remainder of the day in Brooklyn connecting with my spiritual sister. Being back in New York, the place I was born and breed grounded me. In route, Soleil began blending sounds into words, a major break through moment!
Underneath the Brooklyn bridge I sat and reflected on the weekend. Snuggled in my jacket from the unusual chilly weather, I was in a state of complete happiness and felt whole. Being present in my children’s lives that weekend had filled up every crevice and empty space. It was then that I gained clarity. I realized, there would be always be bills as long as there would be credit cards. There would be always be doses of mayhem in the midst of the joys of raising two children.
In regards to artistry, it is a gift. It is selfish to measure or define it by the outcome, the prestige or accolades. Artistry is measured by the process, the journey. My life is my own personal journey with roads distinct for everyone. When I experience bumps in the road I will acknowledge that everything has a season. Most importantly, I will lend my creative talents and vision throughout my everyday life and circumstances, when I guide my son through the creative process of writing or when I teach in public schools. In my determination to never give up on my artistic goals and pursuits one thing is clear.
I will never see any of dreams come into fruition if I continue to live in the lack.
Living in the lack takes away from the value of the moment to moment realities of the beautiful things in life. There will be bouts of self-doubt, fear and inadequacies but the key to it all, is not being consumed by it.
Living in the lack takes away from the value of the moment to moment realities of the beautiful things in life, the most important, are my children. That weekend all my children needed was me. My presence didn’t cost me anything or accrue any debt, instead it filled a void. My biggest lesson was to stop living in the lack, and live in the now. Soleil’s first hip hop class, Vaughn’s scrimmage victory, hearing my daughter read for the first time. Those are beautiful precious things, the now, that I can never get back.
The living moment is everything.
– D.H. Lawrence
What seeds have you reaped today?