I am rapidly approaching the age of 30. Round abouts June of this year, I was stunned that I became very concerned about this milestone. Not so much in the physical sense. I know lots of women dread aging. I’m actually mildly concerned I will forever have the face of a toddler. No, 30 worries me in the accomplishment sense of things. Shouldn’t I have done MORE by now? Visions of Gwyneth Paltrow winning an Oscar at 25 haunt my periphery. My grandfather was a veteran at my age. People I know have masters degrees and law degrees and, well, you know…direction.
CHER: I have direction.
JOSH: Yeah, towards the mall.
I should save you the suspense and tell you that my mini-crisis is over. I’m not freaking anymore. But it’s important to know that I spent much of 2010 freaking the f*&# out. Right out. Plain old freaking right out. It was both a manic and yet static time for me. I was panicked but I couldn’t seem to move.
Backing up a bit, looking back…my twenties were a damn mess. Some really wonderful things happened in the past ten years of my life, absolutely. However some really earth-shatteringly awful things happened too. Life happened, really. And many of my naive plans were not just thrown to the wayside, but rather burned, exploded, and obliterated. Sometimes the ashes would blow back in my face just to tease me. The point here, however, is not to rehash the what occurred. Let’s just say I’m a hurdler of sorts, without fully bringing a sports metaphor into this thing.
The best advice that one can ever get or receive is this, “Blaze your own trail.” I don’t think I ever really understood what that actually meant until today. Why it smacked me upside the head today of all worn-out Tuesdays, I don’t know. I will just say a reverent “thank you” to that head smack, and go on about my business. Still, it’s the visual that is astounding to me. Trailblazing is hard work, generally. I mean, I’ve hiked a very small percentage of the Appalachian Trail and that thing is already blazed and it’s tough going. Blazing a new one is hard work indeed. And scary and thrilling, too. Funny thing about the Appalachian Trail, though, it doesn’t necessarily stop at the most grandiose places along the way. Sometimes the ground it covers doesn’t make the most sense. It meanders and wanders and doesn’t really follow a distinct sense of direction, and yet, all tolled, it’s one of the grandest paths a person can undertake.
One of my favorite cartoons is called “Lonesome Ghosts” and it stars Mickey, Donald and Goofy as ghostbusters hired to rid an old mansion of ghosts. What they don’t know is that it was the lonesome ghosts themselves who placed the call because they were bored. As Goofy goes about his business searching for the ghosts he announces, “I’m brave….but I’m careful.” That is me to a t. I have courage when I need it, but I am one shaky chicken in the meantime. So as I wrap up 29, I just have to rest assured that I did what I could at the time and now I will blaze a trail through my 30’s. Should anyone make the mistake of following the goofy trail I blazed in my 20’s, you should know it ain’t just the first step that’s a loo-loo.
Look, I know Robert Frost has undertaken this theme and said it a hell of a lot better than I ever could. Still, I’m not just talking about the road less traveled– I’m talking about the road not even paved yet.
I feel like my 20’s were about establishing what I’m not. Now my 30’s just might be about what I am. And now I know what to bring along for the ride. Sometimes I’m a foolish contrarian and make my life much more difficult than it needs to be. Sometimes I just very naturally do things my own way. But I never really thought of each move I make as a purposeful clearing of brush and thorns. That’s not to say every step will occur in the wilderness, that is to say, a vaccuum. I’m fine with my trail converging with others. When you join a cast, for example, for a few months at least, your evening path is that of the others in the show in a way. My path converges with the cast of Circle Theatre’s Kiss Me Kate for awhile. But how I approach performing in a show, how I rehearse, how I organize my time…these are all my footprints. And I want them to be as deliberate and definitive and have as much integrity as I can give them.
Blaze your own trail. It’s another way to say Follow your bliss. Or, in the words of Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
I want the rest of 29 to be about closing my 20’s with gratitude and love. I’m thankful for the volumes of lessons I learned and the wonderful people along the way.
“Gratitude is always the best place to begin.” Danielle LaPorte
Blaze Your Own Trail.