Updated: Apr 18, 2021
It was hard to do. But not as hard as not doing it.
What creates the impetus for action? When not doing something gradually possesses less weight than doing something. The scales tip to one side and then we act. The appeal of taking the plunge overtakes the gravitational pull of inaction.
It is so funny that the profession of acting uses such a general verb - to take action. So what does it mean to quit acting - to stop being a verb, to take an action towards inaction.
Good acting is much like the analogy I gave in the first paragraph: don't do something until you have to do something. Do not do something just to do something - do nothing until the need to do something bubbles up out of you almost involuntarily. When we receive bad news, we do not immediately burst into tears. We hold back, restrain reaction, question what we heard until the tears escape us at an inopportune moment when we simply can no longer not cry.
I simply could no longer not quit. Quitting is seen as such a bad word, equated with giving up and accepting defeat. But we also quit smoking (I have), toxic relationships (you bet) and procrastination (feels great). So what about when you quit something you still love a little, something that was once good to you and for which you possess a talent?
In a Self Healing Consult yesterday, my client told me "I shared something you said that really struck me with my therapist" (yes, most of my one-on-one clients are also in therapy - heterogeneous styles of healing, people). "What was that?" I asked. "You said you don't have to hate something to leave it." Ah, yes.
I love Montreal, but I would like to move to another country. I have seen many people in romantic relationships with someone who has become a dear friend, but should no longer be their lover. I have possessed passion for nearly every job I've had, but was grateful when it was time to walk out the door one final time. So why do we depart one thing for another?
To make space. We have a limited amount of energy in an unlimited universe. It's the same reason we commit in a relationship. I forego the opportunity to date endless people so I can devote more energy to our primary partnership. To release one thing in favour of another is the basic foundational principle behind making a choice.
So when I called my dear acting agent and announced it was time to leave the business, I was not feeling disdain for that profession, for the people in it nor for my time as an actor. I was choosing another life for myself. I was making space to honour the career I was building, the person I was becoming and the lifestyle I was co-creating. And it required a removal.
In my first post, Getting Unstuck, I said one has to write to be a writer. But this gets complicated with acting. One can not simply wake up and go act in one's living room. You can create communal groups and work on scenes, you can record a monologue for Instagram or write your own material with the hopes of getting it produced (I got very close with the latter). With all arts, one essentially needs an audience to complete the experience of creation. A musician needs ears, a painter needs viewership and a writer needs readers. But an actor needs to be chosen in order to do what they do. So they need to audition.
Boy, have I auditioned. When I was eight years old, I auditioned for two years without booking. My first role was that of a hand double in a film where I got to meet Bob Hoskins from Hook in the waiting room (career highlight?). Then at ten years old, I booked a lead role in a feature film and got every role I auditioned for after that until my first "retirement" at the age of fifteen. At that time, I just wanted to be a high school student. I loved acting, the thrill of auditioning and the zen focus of being on set with the pressure of the film's budget weighing on the number of takes required to nail it. I loved every second of the acting bits. But I was sad those Friday nights that I waited in my trailer to be wrapped and missed a school dance. Or that I wasn't allowed to dye my hair or do adrenaline sports.