One Strong Belief by Buster Benson

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

(Author: Buster Benson)

My one strong belief is in the power of the stage.Caelan and his masks

My family, and most of my closest friends, do not share this belief. The lifestyle of a performer is hectic, erratic, and extraordinary. The unpredictable schedule of an actors life – six weeks of intense devotion to a project, including nights and weekends, followed by a brief respite of recovery, which is punctuated by itches to get back into a period of intense devotion – leads to many actors marrying their own kind.

The community of performers is a small world, because when you are in it, you are in it all the time, 24-7. I got out of it, primarily, because I married a non-performer.

My wife does not like going to bad theater shows, that just happen to star someone we know. This is an essential component of entrenching yourself in the theatrical community, seeing the shows of your friends, good and bad. They reciprocate by coming to see your bad shows, ad your good ones. Then, one day, when someone has a line on a good opportunity, they recommend their closest performer friends to the director, and you climb up the ladder.

Instead, we spent our time, as a couple, doing non-performance things, and my relationship to the performance community waned, and ultimately stagnated.

I miss being on stage, almost as much as I miss seeing bad shows. Even during bad productions, I can learn, and puzzle out why what I am watching is not working.

And then, occasionally, after you have gone to a few bad shows, the numbers pay off, and you are treated with the extraordinary experience of watching an amazing piece of live theatre.

If my family and closest friends shared this belief, in the power of the stage, the magnetism of it, I would likely still be in the performance community. If I had more reliance in myself, as Mr. Emerson encourages, I would fight against the tendencies of my family and friends, and demand that I spend the time and effort to be a part of the theatrical community. I may be able to make more friends that share this interest, but I may pay for that by losing the closeness I have gained with those I love.

It is a balancing act, weighing our own predispositions against the tastes of those closest to us. I regret that my intimates do not share my love for the theatre, but I cannot blame them for it.

I look back at my stunted theatrical life with longing, and bite my lip as we decide what to do together.