Late to the Game

I grew up in Brooklyn with my mother, father, and older brother. My two sisters were out of the house by the time I was born. One, the oldest, entered the convent right out of high school and became a Franciscan nun within the Roman Catholic church, the other, the second oldest, was already married. There is quite an age span between me and my siblings. My sisters are twenty-two, and twenty years older than me, and my brother was eight years older. My mother was forty-six, and my father fifty-two when they had me (this is back in 1960.) Has any of this painted a clear picture yet? Some may say I wasn’t planned, I say I was, but I just showed up late to the game.

The theme of being late to the game followed me throughout my life, in pretty much every area of my life. It seemed this was somehow written in the stars from my conception. My brother’s friend was into astrology and asked if she could do a reading for me. I wasn’t much into astrology, but I agreed. The day came and she pulled out this big sheet with a circle in the middle which had scribbling everywhere. She went on about houses, rising this, and rising that, and said that whatever it was I chose to do in life, it wouldn’t be fully realized until I was much older. That to be born under my sign (which is Capricorn,) meant I had to deal with being a late bloomer. I laughed to myself because I was certain that success was right around the corner… that was thirty-five years ago.

When I was in second grade, I was cast in my school play. The play lasted a whole five minutes, but I remember when the lights came up on stage, feeling a shift in my spirit that widened my little world, which I still feel to this day. It’s one thing to unexpectedly feel the spark of a dream as a second grader, but as one grows older, the world around you seems to assume that the spark should begin to dissipate, not become brighter.

OK… but wait a second… is all this talk about it being too late to do something our heart seeks after, a social construct? Have we as a society agreed that there is an “age limit” to achieving our individual aspirations? Or perhaps has the idea (or as I see it the misinterpretation) of the American Dream created a kind of apathy towards living true to ones self? Or is there some evolutionary balance being created where there are those who are destined to be an inspiration, and those who are to simply stand on the sidelines watching those who inspire? Or maybe those in our past steered us into believing that dreams don’t come true for people like us. Perhaps they said this out of love in a desire to protect us from disappointment, or were handing over the weighty boulder of their own broken dreams for us to now carry for them.

All I know is that I once felt as if I were sleepwalking through this world, and now, being fully committed to pursuing the life of an actor, I’ve never felt so awake and alive. There is a caveat… as that may be all the reward I get in my pursuit. I’ve made peace with this eternal uncertainty of my chosen path. I now take to heart the words of the poet William Cowper, “Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life. Security is an insipid thing.” You see, my being late to the game did not come as a result of my being conceived long after my siblings, or how the stars were aligned on the day I was born, but it came as a result of my desire to hide from the world, and seek after some kind of security blanket. I feared uncertainty, and chose to have no expectations. The scales did not fall from my eyes until I had my two sons. I knew that one day when they came to me with that bright spark of a dream in their heart, I would have only two choices… Empower them by giving them a template, a kind of life map, to navigate their dreams and ambitions. The only way this could happen is by me staying true to mine, and let them witness throughout their young lives, the hardships, as well as the victories… Or hand them over the weighty boulder of my own broken dreams for them to carry. Neither is without a price… yet one creates returns, and the other leaves you forever broken and bound by fear.

Dreams come in all shapes and sizes. They shift and change at different stages of our lives. To this day, I have never met a person without a dream in their heart. I’ve seen great cover-ups, but the dream always leaks out in one way or another.

I’ve come to believe that there really is no such thing as being “late to the game,” or that it is ever “too late” to pursue ones dreams. It doesn’t make a difference what that dream may be. If we choose to not put forth effort, we are setting ourselves up to fail and are perpetuating a lifetime of failed thinking, leaving the whole of who we are unrealized. We can never comprehend the fullness of life that way. St. Irenaeus claimed that the glory of God is man fully alive. I happen to agree.

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