The brotherhood

Thursday, March 2

I had an acting job yesterday which was shot at an old-fashioned diner near a high school in midtown. One of the other actors was B, a man with whom I studied acting two years ago when I was just getting into the business.

Since we were both extras, we spent much of the morning sitting in plastic chairs in the parking lot waiting to be called to the set while steam from the dry cleaners next door blew past like fast-moving clouds.

B is a wonderful actor and teacher, and a director of real promise. But as the classes ended and I began seeing him at auditions, it troubled me to realize that he regarded me primarily as a competitor.

Yes, we were competing in a market and an age-group where opportunity seemed somewhat limited. And yet as I saw the same faces again and again, what I felt was not rivalry but kinship. Only one of us was going to get any particular part. Everyone else would be rejected, and therein lies our commonality, a willingness to face rejection again and again and keep coming back.  

It may be stretching it a bit, but we are not unlike the gladiators who hailed Caesar with, "We who are about to die salute you!"

And as we chatted, B and I discovered what it was beyond acting that had pulled us together. We had both gone through a period of intense spiritual experimentation, including doing a firewalk weekend with Tony Robbins. But we no longer have those remarkable mystical experiences, and we agreed that it must have been a kind of spiritual puberty.

We are older now and more grounded, and yet life is not without magic. 

B and his wife, also an actor and teacher, had hunted in vain for months for a new home for their school. The rent was going up, and they needed more space. Finally, he said, amazement creeping into his voice, they found a building just a mile away from their current site that is bigger and far better suited to their needs, and they got the landlord to drop the rent by $1100 a month. They’ll be paying just $50 a month more for a place more than double the size of their old building.

B also said something wonderfully affirming about a spiritual syndome I call "in-time abundance."  "Funny," he said, "I go out and spend money on something I’ve got to have, and somehow checks show up in time to pay for it."

As we left the job that afternoon, I could feel the distance between us again. The curtain had closed. But for a while there, we were brothers.

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