©1998 Allen Wayne
“I don’t have a creative bone in my body“. Those are the words uttered to my art teachers when asked to draw, paint, or write for a class assignment. I excelled at sports. I preferred sports, the competition and instantaneous gratification of winning. Because of sports, I have been driven and focused all my life, it’s a gift that I didn’t know I had or how to use.
I grew up in a Midwestern city. I say this only for reference as I sit here typing away in my New York City Greenwich Village apartment. To quote a New York lover, “You’ve come a long way baby”.
Upon reflection it really all began when I was born. It makes perfect sense. All of the experiences I’ve had led me to my “Birthquake” seven years ago. That was the big one. I’ve experienced a number of “aftershocks” since then.
Seven years ago I had the “Life”. I called it the “American Dream” minus the wife and kids. I had a good paying job, drove a nice car, even had leather furniture to go with my condo. A single guy who had it all. But there was a nagging unhappiness, an emptiness that followed me everywhere. I kept trying to buy it off somehow. I’d buy a real nice stereo or a real nice suit to go with my other real nice suits that hung in closet in my condo. Or I’d buy artwork from a local artist. Somehow to be associated with an artist by purchasing his paintings, in a funny way satiated my unhappiness. Meanwhile life went on. I wanted to expand beyond my little world somehow. So I went and saw a play called “Death of a Salesman” with some friends. Did I mention that I was in sales.? I quite enjoyed the experience and proceeded to go to other theatrical events. On this one occasion, we saw an improv troupe. I was amazed by their talent.. After the show, someone was handing out flyers offering classes. I took one of the flyers and stuck it in my pocket. About a week later, on a beautiful clear summer day, I was standing on a street corner waiting for the traffic light to change when out of the blue I got this image of a bullhorn and heard this voice that said, “acting, acting, acting”. It came deep within in from a place that I’d never heard a voice before. I mean my head has many voices, many more now I might add, but this was loud, clear and new to me. I rushed home, found the flyer in my pant pocket called the number and left a message on the answering machine saying, “I’d like to take the class and I don’t know what I’m doing, I’ve never done this”, etc. A month later I was in class on stage doing warm-ups, exercises and scenes. I enjoyed it so much that I went on to study with a prominent regional theater company. It was there that my life was to really change.
At this point I was still successful at my job. My life continued down that “American Dream” path. I was a bit happier. I had gotten a taste of creativity. But it was like being at the best restaurant and only sampling the food. It was okay, but I knew there was more. But how, where and when? Then it happened. I started another acting class. On the first night, for an acting exercise, the teacher paired me up with a woman. We were to rehearse throughout the week for the next class. We got to know each other and became friends. After class we would hang out, go to a coffee shop, a bar or watch movies. About a month into our friendship, something began to stir deep within. I was getting images in my mind’s eye of a blossoming rose. I had no idea what was going on. Then one day after class, we went to our usual bar and ordered food and drinks. The usual talk of acting and class. I knew at this point that I was having feelings for her. In fact I remember saying to myself, “there is no way that I am going to water this rose, I do not have feelings for her”. I have since found out that I am not in control. That night I looked at her a certain way and it happened! I gave over to it, I fell in love with her. For me, that was the “Birthquake”. It started with a crack in my foundation, an image of a clam. When a clam is shut, it is really shut, you can’t open it. But when a clam opens, it’s in the form of a heart. The moment I fell in love with her, my heart cracked opened with a flood of blinding light emanating from that “place”. The very place I heard the calling to follow acting. I had no idea what to do, I’d never felt this way about someone. I couldn’t tell her how I felt, she was only in town for a few months and had a boyfriend back home. And my concept of love was shattered. I had always thought I was in control of who or when I could love. Love to me was, I do something for you, you do something for me. After the shock wore off, I started asking my close friends what to do. Their response was, “I didn’t know you were taking acting classes” and “really that’s nice”. So I called a former girlfriend of mine. We’d remained friends and I thought she might know what to do. We met for dinner one night and I told her my dilemma. She told me I had to tell this woman how I felt. I had to do it for myself regardless of how she felt and I had to do it soon or I would never do it. She was right. But it felt like jumping off a cliff in the dark. When I was younger, I had excelled at ski jumping. I used to soar 200 plus feet in the air. Needless to say, I’ve experienced fear. That did not compare to the fear I felt having to tell someone that I am in love with them. That same night I called her and we met at our usual bar and I told her. It was like a weight had lifted. She was surprised. She was very matter of fact, explaining that she had a boyfriend and that she was leaving. The very same rational reasons I had for not pursuing it. Well two days later I got a call late in the night from her. She had been crying all day and night. Apparently, when the words “I am in love with you” sank in, she felt the same way. We spent three incredible days and nights together before she left. We ended up having a long distance relationship lasting six months. After the breakup, I never experienced so much pain in all of my life. It was never ending. They say that pain is a teacher. Well I learned a lot from this teacher.
Two years after the breakup, I sold everything I owned, quit my job and moved to New York City. The impact of that relationship which happened over five years ago has had such profound effects today. The healing process was not necessarily about the relationship but my life. See I had all of these facts about life that I was taught early on by my parents, friends and society. The calling, relationship and experiences I’ve since have helped me see that life is not about facts. Life is a living organism. Life is shaped by our experiences and environment, and we are free to choose how to shape it. We can go with the “herd”, or we can follow our own path. You know what I mean when I say herd. You see it everyday all around you. You can see it in people’s eyes. The settling in for the long haul soulless look. I recognize it because I’ve been there. Your own path takes more work but is more rewarding. Following this path you never really get there.
For me each day is an adventure. Sure I live in New York City and that helps. New York is a difficult city to live in. I call it the training ground for spirituality. Why? Because reality is in your face everywhere you go. Everything from materialism, to poverty. I’ve simplified my life in order to survive. Five years ago, my spirit was in a coma. It’s been revived by people and experiences. I am revived daily. To me that’s what life is all about. Today I do many things. I act, write, play guitar, meditate. I am a friend, lover and worker among workers. But more importantly, I am a human being on this planet. And I want to do my part to help others realize that there is more out there than the “American Dream”. Find out for yourself. We all have the calling at a number of times in our lives. Listen for the voice, it may be a whisper at first but when you slow down and pay attention it gets louder.
What will become of my life? Just when I have a handle on it, it slips between my fingers so I’ve given up pretending to know. I do know that I will continue to take actions daily. I want to do great things. I want to help change the world. I will in my own way. I have a vision but how I get there is a mystery that I live one day at a time.
The beauty of the internet is that we can form a worldwide community. I am here for anyone wishing to follow their path. Stepping out into the unknown is a difficult undertaking and it takes support. I applaud anyone with the courage to do so. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will end with this given to me by one of my many supporters. “In a dream you saw a way to survive and you were full of joy”.
Allen Wayne is a native Minnesotan, now residing in New York City. He is a film, commcercial and theater actor. Allen just finished his first screenplay and is currently collaborating on the rewrites and edits.