Writing

Every Story Starts With Some Version Of “What If … “

I don’t know how actors do it. How does one so convincingly “become” someone else? And then, how do they shift right back into their own authentic alignment?

We were enjoying a drink, live music and the sunshine in the parking lot of the Blues Can (apparently, COVID doesn’t frequent parking lots …). The guitar engaged and the lead singer asked if anyone knew the song. “Put up your hand if you know the first line of this song.”

My hand shot up.

He pointed at me. “What is it?”

I yelled it out.

“What?”

I yelled it out louder.

“Do you want to come up here and sing it?”

“NO!”

Several days later I’m going Hmmm …

That’s how fast fear is. There was no time for conscious consideration of the generous offer—one, had I been honest in that split millisecond, an alternate “me” would have jumped on.

I remember sitting in the car with my mom in front of Woolco (remember Woolco? …). I was eleven. I shyly told her I wanted to be a singer when I grew up. “But don’t tell Dad.” I was so insecure about it I didn’t even want my father to know my desired profession. For goodness sake … he would have likely encouraged me!

I wanted to be a rock star. Of course I did! Who among us hasn’t had that dream? If you have a mental image of a youngster prancing passionately about the bedroom playing an air guitar, that was me—sans guitar. Tom Jones, Simon and Garfunkel—I had the words and the onstage presence down pat.

Yet, later, if you would have asked me what my greatest fear was, I would have told you it was singing in public.

Somewhere along the maturation cycle, I became super shy and insecure. It took a LOT of work to dig myself out of that hole. I became able to conquer speaking in front of a group. I starred in a small stage play. My partner and I danced a tango for others. On many occasions, I recited my own (very personal) poetry in public. I’ve taught classes and facilitated groups. I’ve even posed nude for figure drawing classes.

I sing all the time, even in groups of friends or strangers. I have no trouble keeping a tune and I’ve been told I have a nice voice.

What I’m saying is that I’ve gotten REALLY close to actualizing that original dream. And yet, although I’ve had numerous opportunities to get up on stage at a safe open mic night or karaoke, I haven’t. And, when invited to get up and belt out a tune with the band at the pub, I declined. I think it’s too late for me to be a rock star …

So, I’m thinking of becoming an actor. I mean, I could just switch into that role that is “not me” and do whatever “that which is me” is too afraid or otherwise unable to do. That way, I could do everything. How cool would that be?

That’s sort of along the theme of (one of) my next book(s). What if … What if you didn’t have to choose? (Ah, yes, you say, but making choices is the very essence of character development. That’s quite the quandary for a novel then isn’t it?) What if you could live one life in one dimension and another life in another dimension, simultaneously? In your alternate life, you could just kick fear to the curb and do all the things you’re unable to do or have in your … real life.

Hmmm … Not only do I not write fiction, I, for sure, don’t write science fiction, or metaphysical fiction, or whatever genre that might fit into.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had many other dreams and goals and fulfilled lots of them. I’m just beginning to think that life is really too short for all the things I want to do, see and have. As I age, choices become more limited and more difficult to make. Since I haven’t figured out how to cross dimensions, or time travel, or clone myself, nor have the patience to wait for and remember reincarnation, … my only option might be to write about those things left undone.

How close have you gotten to your dream(s)? What’s stopping you?

Want to talk about it?

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