I am visiting family in New York. I have been feeling a "pull" or a "need" to come out here. But it was deeper than just to visit my family. And I want to share what I have found with you guys. Don't know if it'll make sense, but I hope it does. It's been pretty profound for me, and I am still just processing what I've experienced.
First off, I ran a half marathon on a road that runs along the Deleware River. Some amazingly challenging hills (Jen can vouche for me on this!). The longest I had ever run on this road was eight miles, and to go 13.1 was really intense. I didn't keep time, just wanted to do it. No musice, either. I had the amazing musice of wind, water dripping from melting ice, and the occasional distant sound of a car. The temp was about 32 degrees. Chilly but so beautiful. I will take some pics and post them when I get home.
But the run isn't what I want to write about.
I have felt the "spotlight" of acting take a shift away from me. It's been awhile since I played Cyrano, or the Librarian in Underneath the Lintel. And even when I have been "the main dude" in a show, I just have felt that I was no longer a focal point in the theatre. And it has jossled my ego a bit from time to time. Some of this feeling is self-imposed and negative, but I think there's some truth to it.
And I think I had to come to New York to learn that that shift of the spotlight isn't a bad thing. And it doesn't mean it won't shift back once in a while. But how I live my life shouldn't be based on whether or not a spotlight is on me. I should be living and doing as peacefully AND purposefully when I am in the center of things in the theatre world, and when I am on the perifery (spelling??).
One big reason I came to New York was because my wonderful Father In Law got me tickets to a Ranger's game (hockey!) and I took my Brother, Rich. Rich introduced me to hockey and got me playing that wonderful sport, which in turn helped fuel my passion for acting. So in a lot of ways, I owe my career path to my bro!. Anway, at this game there happened to be, among 18,200 fans, three retired players from the days when I watched the Rangers as a kid. One of them was an old bruiser named Nick Fotiu. Nick was a favorite of mine and Rich. He grew up in Staten Island and worked his butt off and got to play for his childhood favorite team, the Rangers. Nick was not the most talented guy, but he tried harder than anybody. He only scored about four goals a season. Not much when you consider that good goal scorers get at least thirty! But everybody LOVED to watch him play. He retired a long while ago.
The last time Rich and I were at a game together was over twenty years ago. And at that game, Nick Fotiu scored the winning goal. It was the only time he ever did that in his career. He scored with two minutes to go, putting the Rangers ahead of their arch rivals, the New York Islanders, 3-2. When Nick bullied the puck past the Goaltender (it was not a finesse goal, he forrced the puck THROUGH the goalie) Nick started jumping around like he had just won the championship! It was not even a playoff game, but for Nicky, it was the most important game of his life.....the crowd went nuts for two reasons: the Rangers were ahead AND their beloved hometown boy had done it! Nick was so excited that when he got back to the bench, he threw up! The next day it was in all the papers. One writer said that Nick better not score winning goals too often or the excitement will kill him.
My Bro and I have retold that story many times. It's a great memory for us. So of course we were thrilled to see him back at Madison Square Garden. And we sat close to him during the game, about a section away. During the game, I watched Nick. His love for the game is still there, apparent in how he watched. His love for the family that is that hockey team is still there, and he is still a big part of that place, even though he is no longer on the ice. He matters. Even today. Maybe today he matters even more. Not many players in today's sports world are associated with only one team. They go were the money is, not where they feel they are "family".
And during the game I thought about my "spotlight" and thought about Nick's "spotlight". I am not retired, not by a long shot. But I see that we have to be in different lights as we go through this life. You can't be so in love with one type of focus that you are unwilling to give it up when the time is right. Sure, work to stay with something as long as it feels right, and it feels in balance with the universe, but have the grace to feel when a different light wants to shine on you.
And relish that one as you relished the last.....
After the game, we were leaving the parking garage and my Brother looked up and said, "No way. Rob, look. It's Nicky."
Nick had parked in the same garage. And we called to him and he happily spoke to us. And I told him that the last time Rich and I were at the Garden was his "famous game". Nick knew exactly what I was talking about and he started nodding his head and laughing, the memory instantly flooding back to him.
"I wish I could still do that!" He said.
We told him we loved him and thanked him and went on our way. It was a brief and blissful exchange and I really think that was why I felt a pull to come home.
I still wish I could play Cyrano sometimes. It's okay to sometimes "wish I could still do that". And it's nice to know that my old hero, Nick Fotiu feels that way too. But getting to see him in a different, equally wonderful role, is helping me realize that life, and my wonderful career, is about much much more than just scoring one game winning goal.
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