Cartoon Physics

fortunately, I never studied law

[September 2000]
The Road Runner stands suspended over the abyss near a sign which reads “Bridge Out.” He is immune to plummeting by virtue of the simple fact that Road Runners can’t read. Bugs Bunny, likewise, is immune to the law of gravity because he never studied law. A million cop shows have informed me that ignorance of the law is no excuse, and yet the ignorance of my animated role models allowed them to get away with nearly anything. More and more, I am coming to realize that the Warner Brothers philosophy is the correct one. Ignorance of certain laws is not only an excuse, it is the desireable state of being.

When I was much younger, I believed that I was blessed. When I heard the phrase “Golden Child” I knew they were talking about me> I knew that spiritually I was the seventh son of a seventh son, in spite of technically being the firstborn of a fourth. Growing up, I was never told that I couldn’t do anything. I don’t mean I wasn’t told that I couldn’t run in traffic or that I couldn’t smoke, I mean I was never told that any dream was beyond my reach.
I guess I didn’t accomplish everything I ever set out to do, but I never felt like failure was evidence that I couldn’t do something, just that I hadn’t managed it yet.

My dream from about the age of three was to be an actor. More specifically, my dream from the age of 3-5 was to be a clown, and from 5-7 it was to be a movie monster. By the time I hit the age of seven, I understood enough to know that, as an actor, I could do all of those things and more. Of course, there were always naysayers. “There are a million actors in the world” they would say, “but only a few of them are actually successful.” This didn’t dishearten me at all. Of course most of them weren’t successful! It takes a special type of person to be a world renowned actor. A person like me. A golden child. I’m not sure how many times I was told my dream was foolish, or how many times I was told I couldn’t do whatever I set out to do, but one time – maybe the million-and-first time – it finally stuck.

In my late twenties I was on the board of directors for a local theater company. It wss in this company that I first began to see acting as an art, and not just a passion. It was here, too, that my muse died. I worked very hard to make the company succeed. I’d go to my day job at 7am and work until 3pm, at which point I’d go home, grab a bite, and dash off to the theater by 5. Most nights I was there until 11pm, and not infrequently until 1 or 2am. I was happy about it. I was, after all, building a dream. What I didn’t realize at first was that it wasn’t my dream. What I finally came to understand was that I was acting as the support team for someone else’s dream, while having the message “you aren’t good enough, you’ll never succeed” hammered into my brain over and over again. After a few years, I finally learned the lesson.

It’s amazing, once you believe that something is impossible, just how quickly you fail. It took me years before I was able to drive past the theater without a profound sense of loss, and even longer before I began to believe that I could possibly be something other than just another faceless member of the masses. That I have been able to unlearn the lesson of the ordinary is a tribute to my parents and the fact that they never tried to disabuse me of the idea that I could do anything I set my mind to. That, and my extensive collection of Bugs Bunny cartoons.

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