Moons ago, my friend Bryan and I wrote a screenplay together and even cooked up a reading at AFI.
While the script found its way to the
file, we learned a ton.
And I look back now and I think, “Dang – crazy what happens when you show up every day and call a bunch of folks.”
On one of our meet-up, procrastinate, and keep microwaving the same cup of coffee seshes, Bryan got an urgent blip blip on his Blackberry.
A friend from his Yale MFA days was in SOS distress.
Bryan called him back, and a carpet-pacing, brow-furrowed intervention ensued.
I heard his friend’s voice rising and falling, saying things like, “But you don’t underSTAND!”
Bryan listened, offering “I hear you,” and “Focus on your lane,” and “What’s the next thing you can do? What can you control?”
Then there was an extended-cut, multi-pitch closing argument.
My eavesdropping skills detected complaints about studio decisions, agent comments, and actors who got ALLL the opportunities.
Finally, a vein popped out over Bryan’s aforementioned brow. He stopped his classmate:
“Channing Tatum ain’t thinking about you! Why you thinking about Channing Tatum?!”
Bryan’s friend got trapped in the comparey dispairey thornbush. An invasive species, and once you get all up in it, you’re gonna need BandAids.
I’ve Neosporined many an encounter with this prickly customer.
And before you’re like, “Oh, Dan, I know. I know. Don’t compare myself to other people blah blahhh. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to… wait.”
Nope. That’s not what I’m gon’ say.
What I’m gon’ say is this:
Go ahead – think about Channing.
I said his name three times, so, like Beetlejuice, he appears.
And just like there’s no way you’ll ever “just get out of your head,” your brain’s always gonna put things side by side and notice differences.
This avocado is a lil softer than that one. Guacamole is tomorrow, so Avocado A.
This friend tells you you’ve got Charmin on your shoe, and that one regularly says, “I’m sorry you think I did something wrong.” Smart brain: spend more time with friend #1.
That Dodge truck driver in my rear view mirror is getting real close. They’re driving faster than anyone should on the Mass Pike. I’ll just proceed at equal speed to this person next to me in the right lane for a spell before I scoot over.
(I’m a New Englander now – the closer you tailgate, the slower I drive.)
Your brain’s a compare specialist; it could pundit on PBS Newshour weighing oat milk prices in one segment with a tight segue to Rotten Tomatoes ratings of Channing’s oeuvre.
But Dan, “Comparison is the THIEF of joy!”
Can be, yes.
All depends on what exit you take off the Pike once you’ve thwarted Dodge’s speed agenda for an acceptable distance.
One exit we jerk the wheel toward is Envytown (cue “Funkytown” hook.)
🎵 Gotta make a move to a town with spite for me.
This is the strip mall-hedged boulevard where your brain indeed heists your joy – you couldn’t resist this exit. No one could.
There was a Sheetz AND a Wawa – you could grab a 1200 calorie Fluffer Nutter shake followed by your pick of TastyKakes.
Envy is wanting what someone else has —
Their job, their fitness, their singing skill, their travel, their recognition, their success.
I’ve envied all of these.
Just the memory of my innumerable I-want-what-you-gots squeezes my under-ribs. Oof.
Not my favorite zone.
It’s the Sheetz Shake and the TastyKake diminishing returns binge, a sugar crash, and what-chemicals-did-I-just-ingest? film on your tongue.
Envy leaves you similarly empty-full and ill-nourished.
The good news? Comparison has other roads you can take. See? You even need comparison to choose your route.
There’s the turn-off to Admiration-ham (I’m in Mass now. So many ‘hams.)
That looks like, “Wow, Lin Manuel, you wrote “Dos Orugitas” AND all that music in Vivo? I can’t get that outa my head. And we don’t talk about Bruno no no no…. Ah! Stop!”
There’s also the road to Reverence-cester – (pronounced Roostah).
When you revere something or someone, you show deep respect.
That’s like this:
And speaking of names of German origin, there’s the village of Freudenfreude.
Joy-joy (as opposed to schadenfreude which we learned from Avenue Q means harm-joy, or what I’d feel if that Dodge got pulled over.)
Freudenfreude is when you find joy in other people’s good fortune.
I’m remembering a jig I did in a voice lesson last year when our collaborative pianist got her doctoral tuition fully funded. 🎹 Go Katie! We miss you.
But wait. We’re not done thinking about Mr. Tatum just yet.
What about the times when you in fact want the thing the other person has? Maybe even want them not to have it. We’re all humans here.
🗺️ Here’s a map to another town. 🧭
Ask yourself —
What will having this thing do for me?
Can I be sure that if I had their thing it’d yield the result I think?
See what answers bubble up for you.
You might see yourself possessing that shiny doo-dad and notice you’re looking ahead for a shinier one. Hmmmm.
you notice living your own version of the thing would be terrific and satisfying. Then you have some crucial information.
You have an exciting thing you can work backward from, make a system, and start showing up.
And it’s when you start showing up every day — singing the exercises, writing the story, getting melody ideas down, calling your friends for the thing – that’s when you can follow Bryan’s advice and start thinking about YOU.
Because it’s then that you’ll be able to give the one and only you – and folks need to hear the story only you can sing.
ps here’s another video from the BoCo vault — a vocal exercise framework that you can use for yourself. It’s set up so you can take the principles and make up your own stuff. 15 minutes. You can pair it with the silly and effective voice and body warmup I shared with you last week.
If these are effective for you, go head and download for yourself in case the Google Drive does weird stuff or I change the videos.
pps I’ll keep you posted about how my fruitless Channing Tatum GIF searches affect my social and ads algorithms :).
ppps and my friend Bryan (Terrell Clark) does great things. Check him out.