Yesterday some friends and I (all dudes — this detail will matter later) were discussing the art of acting. None of us are actors, but we all like movies, and we were wondering where a layman might go to figure out what acting is about, what “good” acting is, etc.
One of my pals brought up my drawings of Jeffrey Tambor’s acting workshops. We attended them together at SXSW 2010 and SXSW 2012. Two of my favorite events to draw. Tambor was funny and wise and I found myself reciting some of his lines for years after. (One piece of advice in particular has stuck with me: “Worrying is not preparation.”)
In 2014, my pal @mattthomas attended one of his lectures and tweeted out his notes. I copied notes from his notes:
Tambor’s morning routine: – wakes up and drinks a cold cup of coffee that’s next to the bed from the night before – reads for a half hour
Tambor: “You wanna have a good life? Work, love, and thrive with people who get you.”
Tambor: “If you’re any good, you’re going to be fired.”
Tambor talking about how he used to, in his darker moments, destroy his projects with worry.
I think about this old, old problem all the time now: What happens to the good teachings of men when those men do bad things?
I don’t care about the men themselves. They may or may not get what they deserve. (I’m getting too old for heroes, anyways, and celebrities, actors, comedians, they’re people, yes, but they’re also projections.) I am, selfishly, yes, thinking about what I have taken from them. How perhaps-not-so-good-in-hindsight men have helped me become a better man. What does one do with that knowledge?
“Worrying is not preparation” has long become a mantra in our house — it’s helped us through some bad, bad days. (It is not lost on me that this wisdom was gathering in an acting workshop — a place where you go to learn about pretending to be something, performing a role.) What do we do with it now?
Different people have different answers. And I have mine: “Worrying is not preparation” belongs to me now. As a phrase or a unit of meaning, a meme, or whatever, it has, by being used by me and my partner, become ours. Its usefulness has made it ours.
It’s like they say in A.A. and Levon sang in The Band: “Take what you need and leave the rest.”
The need I will take is the teaching. The rest I will leave is the teacher.
In the meantime, I will keep looking for and learning from better men, or better yet, better women.