The first was named Beth. Beth was a beautiful cheerleader, So beautiful, I was never able to find the courage to speak to her all during senior year. Who knows what direction my life would have taken if I had followed that dream.
Another Pivot Point was also during my senior year. I had transferred to this new school from a really bad situation in another state. My previous life was in a dysfunctional, broken home with much abuse. I was a loner, and didn’t hang out with anyone. Oh, I would spend a few minutes now and again with a chubby guy who had a record player, but that wasn’t often.
I don’t recall attending any sporting events – maybe one when my junior high won a football game. But personally, I didn’t know one end of a football from another, much less ever hold one.
So, as I was walking down the hall of my new high school, two guys started walking beside me, all grins. “Would you like to play football?” asked the coaches.
“Ah, sure, okay.”
I was one of the biggest kids on the block at this small school, weighing in at over 200 pounds,
Pivotal Point: I never studied the playbook. I was never involved in one play on the field during a game.
I was capable of crushing other linemen but I was miserable during practice, and stood no chance of getting into any of our games.
That was a Pivotal Point in my life, and I cursed myself for decades for making the biggest mistake of my life.
Decades later, a shrink asked me to close my eyes and imagine what life would have been like if I HAD played. If I had played, I would have gotten college scholarship in sports, not in drama and debate like I really did. The dream I had on the couch wasn’t all pleasant, though. If I had played football in high school, and then in college, I would have gained courage, self-esteem, and – ego. I would have been a creepy, swaggering, “know-it-all.” A jerk.
Unfortunately in this case, neither selection for that Pivot Point has a happy ending. Reality, or dream.
Our son David talks about parallel universes. We all take different paths, and our alternate images take different paths, while our original self keeps the original path. Each path chosen brings even more Pivot Points (crossroads) along the way, and our images split yet again. None of the paths are wrong – or right. I get lost in this mutl-dimensional world, so I plod along in my own, more simple explanation. In my world, Pivot Points only have a couple of choices, and once the choice is made, that is it.
Another Pivotal Point was in Hollywood. I had a very small role in the last episode of the season for ALL IN THE FAMILY. Everyone was going to the “wrap party,” including me. It was my chance to rub shoulders with the elite in my business. The biggest name in Hollywood was producer Norman Lear, and I could have really furthered my career a million times over if I had the courage to talk to the man. As in football – no guts.
Sally Struthers was a regular on the show, and I had a crush on the part she played – Gloria. Could I talk to Ms. Strruthers? Think ‘Beth from high school,” and you have your answer.
Since that experience, I have taught actors that their first lesson has to be COURAGE. If you can’t have a conversation with Norman Lear and/or Sally Struthers, you have no business pretending to be an actor.
If a casting director asks you, “What do you do?” you MUST answer, “I am an actor” without flinching. NEVER answer, “Well, I wait tables at the Shim Shack I’m just waiting for my big break.” You must FEEL you are an actor – fake it if you have to, but for that moment, you ARE an actor. You are just waiting for you NEXT role. A Pivot Point.
My Pivot Point in Hollywood was to leave town and go back to radio. Oh, I still acted here and there, but it was never my main profession after that. If you can’t talk to Norman Lear, how can you talk to the camera.
I’ve had other Pivot Points since then. Lately, I feel another Pivotal Point coming on. Perhaps a life change. Perhaps a new vista. I don’t know. Destiny? Maybe.
But I feel it coming.
DPO DPO DPO DPO DPO DPO