Stop Checking the Same Box
Over the years, I developed an interest in being on stage. I didn’t want to star in a play or have a big solo in a musical, I just thought it would be interesting to be a background actor or have a bit part in a major production. I was intrigued by the idea of staring out into a captive audience of 3000 people.
Two years ago I got cast as a live model for the Pageant of the Masters, a world famous production that reproduces classic masterpieces using live models. For 30 shows that summer, I would hold a pose for 90 seconds before an audience of 2600 people each night. I didn’t have to talk, sing or move. It was perfect! No talent required. And I got the exact experience I was looking for.
Time to pull out that bucket list and check that box… Done!
I enjoyed the show so much that I auditioned again this year. I got cast again, this time as a bronze Erte statue. Awesome. I would be spending 30 nights of my summer holding a glamorous pose for 90 seconds, staring out into an audience of 2600 people each show.
Three weeks into the show, I realized something. The show wasn’t having quite the same appeal as it did the year prior. I didn’t get that familiar “high” when the spotlight illuminated my piece for the audience.
Then I got it. The first year the show was exciting because I was checking the box of a dream I had.
What was I doing the second year? I was checking a box that had already been checked. It was like placing an order for something I had already received. I got my fill the first time. It was an experience I wanted to have, nothing more than that.
Now that I had checked that box, I felt nudged to move on to checking other boxes. Time to do bigger things, time to devote my time to new experiences instead of reliving the same experience over and over again.
That made me consider something else. Where else in my life was I checking the same box over and over again? Where was I restricting my own life by staying in a sandbox I already knew well? Those nudges gave me an epiphany.
The pageant experience was a stepping stone to nudge me toward something bigger. I now know what it is like to see 2600 people staring at me on stage. So what’s next? Dancing on a TV show? Speaking professionally? Maybe this is a stepping stone to doing a TED Talk or performing before millions of viewers.
The sandbox was a stepping stone to get me ready for the beach. And that beach gently nudges me toward the ocean. The ocean may be a daunting expanse of unknown, but it is where the richness of all possibility and fortune lies. I can’t keep playing in the sandbox if I want to get to the ocean. And those nudges I’m getting are clearly telling me one thing: It’s time to head for the ocean.
Posted on October 3, 2013, in Life and tagged "pageant of the masters", audience, bucket list, comfort zone, experience, new experiences, performing, professional speaking, rut, sandbox, stepping stones, TED talk. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.