Here’s one version of our many conversations regarding success (or lack thereof) where one of us would play devil’s advocate to exorcise our holding-back demons.
“Why don’t you want to be an actor?”
“No, you don’t.”
“Yes, I do. There’s nothing I want more than to be an actor. Acting and movies help people open their hearts and give them something to think about that they wouldn’t have thought about otherwise. It’s my calling. It’s what I want to do. It’s in my soul.”
“You’d be there if you really wanted to be.”
“I want to be!”
“No, you don’t.”
“Yes, I do.”
“No, you don’t. Otherwise you’d be there.”
That conversation happened on many occasions, with each of us taking a turn on each side. Sometimes it helped. Here’s another one, which had taken place just a few weeks before she died:
“What’d make it come in for a landing?” I asked her referring to the ever-elusive, circling success, while asking myself at the same time.
“Dunno. Right timing? A better me?”
“Nah. There couldn’t be a better you.” I was in one of those moods—beneficent, which might’ve annoyed the bejesus out of her if she hadn’t been slightly tipsy already. “You’re the best you you are. Besides, it’s not about deserving. Nasty, abusive drunks make it big all the time.”
She took another sip of wine. And two. And three. Wait a minute—why didn’t I see this at the time?
“Invite it in,” I continued. “Make it welcome. Serve it tea and crumpets.”
She nearly spit out her wine. “Tea and crumpets?”
“Well, if not that, what does it want? Beer and brats? Champagne and caviar?”
The wine was starting to make itself known in her system and speech. “Maybe it’s an agreement I made before I came in to this lifetime—that success will weasel away from me this time around. This one isn’t my lifetime to be successful because I’m here to experience what trying and trying and trying feels like.”
“I can’t imagine making that kind of agreement.”
“Maybe I’m just supposed to light things up no matter what I do.”
“What about people who never, ever find the ‘one’—or the two or three if they’re into that kind of thing. Some people are lonely their whole, entire lives.”
“And some people are lonelier inside a sad marriage than some people are on their own. But wouldn’t folks be married if they really, really wanted to be?”
“Wouldn’t I be a star if I really wanted to be?”
“Maybe you don’t have to be a star—be a starburst! Light up the world everywhere you go.”
She downed the rest of her wine.
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