Some random thoughts about when life punches you in the face

Isaiah Stratton

I was listening to an interview with Tim Roth, and he said something I rarely hear successful actors say—he said he knows great actors, actors who do amazing work, who’ve never gotten their break. They’ve never “made it.” He recognized that for whatever reason, their skill was not recognized. He said they should be working, they deserve to be working, but it just hadn’t happened for them.
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That made me think. If you’re like me, you’ve heard the positive attitude stuff, the “want it hard enough and it’ll happen” stuff; shoot, I just finished reading “The Alchemist.” The entire theme of the book is that if you’re in tune with what your heart wants, and if you put that above all else, and you chase it with all the strength you’ve got, then the universe will come to your aid and actualize the realization of what you’re chasing.
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I think there is great strength in identifying your passion and pursuing the thing that God has gifted you to do, but I also believe what I read in another book—that “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Life has punched me in the mouth. And if you live long enough, it’ll do the same to you. The question is: what do you do when your plan doesn’t look like it’s working? like it may never work?
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I was texting with a friend who—if you looked at his work and his online presence you’d think was “making it”—told me he’d hit a breaking point. I could hear the frustration in his words, and I understood. Watching jobs go to people who are “more connected.” Juggling and scrapping and fighting to produce quality work. All while figuring out how to keep your nose above water. It’s hard. The punches keep coming. Your nose gets broken. Your teeth hang loose. Your eyes swell. You wonder if it’s worth it. You wonder why you keep doing it.
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When I did this shoot with Aña, she asked me what I wanted to see from the pictures, and I told her I wanted the truth—I wanted to see what I’m feeling right now. As I looked through what she got, I realized what I was seeing: a guy who’s closed off. The body language in almost every shot was turned away or inward. And that’s where I am now. I feel a little punch drunk. But I’m on my feet.
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Aña asked me point blank if I’d ever give up—give up this career. And my answer was instantaneous—no. I will not. Both of my grandfathers died young. They were both great men, and should have lived longer. Much longer. I have no guarantees in this life. I’ve worked in a job for years that I detested. I wasted too much time during those years. And that’s on me. And it won’t happen again. I know what I love to do, and I don’t think I’ll ever be some “big-time actor,” but I do think I’ll find a way to make a living doing what I love to do. God gifted me for this, and He closed a whole lot of other doors that made way better sense. So here I am.
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This past Sunday at church, we sang one of my favorite songs. The final lyrics say
“Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”
So I’m not gonna stay down. I’m gonna stand. I’m gonna keep getting back in the game. I’m gonna keep slugging back every time life punches me in the face. And I’m gonna grin while I do it.
Onward and upward, my friends.

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