“Burn the boats!” -Hernan Cortez
The idea of burning the boats was a strategic military tactic used by the likes of Cortez and Alexander the Great before him. This removed the option of retreat and left their men with only the options of victory or defeat. With an escape plan out of the question these men committed themselves fully to the goal of victory. This “burn the boat” tactic produced some of the most remarkable victories in history. Against all odds, victory is sure
4 years ago today my best friend Justin and I arrived in Hollywood full of dreams and aspirations. Knowing how daunting a task tackling the entertainment industry would be and how lofty a goal our successes were, we made a resolution. We were here to stay. No matter how difficult or bleak it looks, there was no retreat. We burned our boats that day. Defeat is not an option. Over the past 4 years there have been miraculous victories and terrifying defeats but we are still here. We are still hopeful. When I look back on how excited I was when we arrived I have realized I am more excited now than I was then. This is because I can look back and clearly see how far we have come. I am proud of the strides I have made both as and actor and as a resident of Los Angeles. I have learned a lot and grown in amazing and unexpected ways. So while the goals are still lofty and to some impractical, I am closer than I was when I arrived and assured I am exactly where I belong.
This life is a journey and I am thoroughly enjoying this odyssey God has and continues to go before me and there is profound peace in that. I am excited about what the next 4 years have in store.
“The journey’s the thing.” -Homer’s The Odyssey
“Art can never exists without naked beauty displayed.”-William Blake
Growing up I was pretty vocal about my desire to be in entertainment. I wanted to be an actor and a singer…I wanted to do it all. I would frequently get asked the question, “Would you ever do nudity?” With a self righteous indignation, my answer was always be a resounding “NO!” As a child I thought it was the worst possible thing an actor could do. I had a lot of hang ups human expression back then but as I got older I found myself becoming increasingly comfortable with who I was both internally and externally. I still couldn’t see myself being naked on film.
About 2 weeks ago I was given the opportunity to appear completely naked on an episode of a new HBO series. Without hesitation I accepted the job. Now I would like to say it had nothing to do with the money but, in truth, the money was really good. However, the biggest reason I said yes was because I realized in that moment that I strongly desired to present my naked self for the sake of art. I have gone streaking and skinny dipping back in high school and college but it was usually under the guise of camaraderie or drunken fun. In recent months I have begun to see myself as ART, not perfectly sculpted or flawless but ART nonetheless and I wanted the opportunity to express this perspective.
I spent most of the night before the shoot unable to sleep. Apprehension and excitement riddled my body. I had a very early call time and when I arrived on set I was quickly given a robe and all my clothing removed. I was whisked away to the makeup trailer where 4 other naked bodies were being oiled and airbrushed. My makeup artist was a middle aged Hispanic woman who proceeded to disrobe me like she had done it a million times. Awkward conversation ensued. “You do a lot of nude modeling? Because you should.” As she vigorously rubbed some kind of makeup on my ass and thighs. She moved things around to give my entire body an even skin tone. The whole time I was thinking “what have I gotten myself into.” After the initial discomfort I realized I wasn’t all that uncomfortable. In fact I was invigorated. By shooting time all of my apprehension had dissipated.
I sat in a chair and in front of me were the camera crew, director and AD, and the lighting guys. The Director yells “DISROBE and ACTION!” The camera pans to me as I sat there in all my naked glory. I have never felt that kind of liberation in my life. It took all of me not to laugh because I just felt so free. Before I knew it the first take was done. After that I spent the next 6 hours doing different scenes with different angles and lenses. I was having the time of my life.
Now I am not saying we should run around butt naked in the streets. I do, however, believe our bodies should be celebrated and our nakedness expressed as the art it is. After all we are the Creator’s workmanship. At the end of the day, this life is about loving yourself and being comfortable enough to express yourself, flaws and all. I look forward to the next time I get to be naked on film.
“To see you naked is to recall the Earth.” -Frederico Garcia Lorca
Today I am afraid that I am lost. I am afraid I will never achieve the dreams and goals I set for myself. I am afraid that I will never make enough money to sustain myself. I am afraid of an unsure future. I am afraid I have ruined my life. I am afraid I have wasted so much time and money chasing a dream to big to catch. I am afraid that I should give up. I am afraid of being without. I am afraid of my lofty ideas and ambitions leaving me stranded. I am afraid of not being taken seriously. I am afraid I am doing it all wrong. I am afraid I am not good enough. I am afraid my time will never come. I am afraid this road less traveled leads to a dead end. I am afraid it is to costly. I am afraid that my plan is not a plan.
BUT TODAY I CAN SAY…
I haven’t given up. Today I can say I am further along than I was 4 months ago. Today I can say I am resilient. Today I can say God must have gone before me. Today I can say my purpose is greater than my understanding. Today I can say I am an actor. Today I can say I am a singer. I can say I am hopeful. Today I can say being lost is an adventure. I can say I genuinely enjoy my life. Today I can say I have done things that many people will never do. Today I can say that I have plenty. Today I can say my needs are met. Today I can say I believe that God and the universe conspires for my good. Today I can say there is enough light to take another step. Today I can say my fear has not paralyzed me…and that is enough to hold on for one more day.
It has been 14 years since the attack on the twin towers. I don’t think we could have guessed how much our society would change after that day. Our brutal expulsion from an age of innocence…at least for me. I remember staring at the TV in disbelief as the second plane hit. I thought “this has to be a movie or something.” But it wasn’t. I called everyone I knew who would be directly or indirectly affected. With each emotional phone call, the reality set in that EVERYONE was affected. Many men and women were lost that day and the American sense of safety and security that we convinced ourselves was impenetrable, was obliterated.
But as they say, The more things change the more they stay the same.
Since that day the whole world’s deeds and exploits have been a veritable scorecard of victories and defeats. It is only recently that I have realized this has been the way of things long before 9/11. I think what changed most for me that day was the realization that in each moment there is found a victory or a defeat. I hear people say all the time “Let’s make America great again!” This is usually encompassed in a political or socioeconomic rant. A nostalgic attack against the passage of time. I also hear people zealously quote 2 Chronicles 7:14
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.“
This is usually in reference to some former glory of religious dominance. When I hear these statements though, I wonder what people are really longing for? Do we ache to return to the 90’s with the Persian Gulf War and the terror of Saddam Hussein? Or maybe its the 80’s we desire with the emergence of AIDS, which at that time was completely un-treatable and 100% fatal. Is the healing of our land we picture in our minds reminiscent of the 60’s and 70’s full of segregation, Civil Rights battles, the Vietnam War, and political leader assassinations. The 30’s and 40’s fared no better with The Great Depression, World War 1 and World War 2, the Holocaust, and daily racial lynchings. Perhaps we want the 1800’s, slavery, Civil War Native American genocide…
My point is this: Life has always been a balance of good and evil. Humanity’s ugliness is present in every decade. There is no point in longing and hoping for the past. Devastation and tragedy is found there too. We have to choose to move forward. Look ahead and decide, everyday, to be the good in the world. Strive to be the beauty in tomorrow. I believe that is how we keep the darkness at bay in our own hearts and the world around us. Let us never forget!