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Perseverance

Today’s word is perseverance, which means to do something over and over until you are either successful or you’re looked at as a strange and obsessed old person. Or, like a drug addict, to chase something that once gave you a rush no matter the cost. In honor of this great word lets discuss the pursuit of my acting career in very shallow depth. Please note that I am always aiming for success but I do recognize the gold mine of comedy in being a crazy old curmudgeon.

It started, as most stories do, at the beginning. My entire life I planned to be an actor. At 3 I was standing in front of my mom’s full length mirror and crying. When she found me like that and asked why I was crying I said, “Because I can.”

5 year old Ham

5 year old Ham

Growing up I put on my own plays and made short films at home and did community theater. It was always my plan to move to Los Angeles where I was sure to become a big time movie star. I didn’t have a back up plan because it never occurred to me that things wouldn’t go according to this plan.

Now here I am, years later, all grown up, still doing the same things. I’ve had some amazing experiences and some really hard times. The camaraderie that comes from working on film sets and in the theater is something that can’t be found anywhere else. The thrilling joy and excruciating fright of stepping out live on stage or filming a deeply emotional and intense scene are the moments that make me really feel alive. Those are the times that have kept me hanging on through the tough times and those moments when I questioned if I was wasting my life.

Backstage at my first play in LA

Backstage at my first play in LA

There’s a cycle of being excited, motivated and working and then being down and dejected. Occasionally booking a role or losing a role can change the pitch of the cycle but sometimes its the never ending struggle to feel like what I’m spending my life on is worthwhile. That the choices I’ve made are going to bring me the thing that I want and that if I have it it will actually make me happy.

So here’s where we’re at: I’m not where I set out to be but I do have a great life going on. I’m married to my best friend and I have a wonderful family, fantastic friends and a lifetime of good experiences. I know that I’ve missed out on lots of other great things by never wanting to be out of town and potentially missing auditions and by defining my life by what would and would not further my acting career. Looking back on it I wish I’d just done whatever I wanted to do and let the chips fall where they may. Based on Murphy’s Law alone that would have taken me a lot further.

20 year old Ham

20 year old Ham

In 2003 I had a trip to Switzerland planned with my dad and sister. Right before I was to leave I booked a role on The West Wing and lost a  non-refundable plane ticket and had fly to Europe 2 days later than planned on a whole new ticket so I could take that part. And it was completely worth it. Sure, I believe I would have booked The West Wing if I didn’t have plans but it all worked out so I’ve learned that I shouldn’t put my life on hold.

That’s why to me perseverance is like the way a drug addict keeps coming back, looking for those luscious moments of great high and hoping they’ll last forever. Some people get TV series or movie careers and hit that long lasting rush while others attend a little rehab known as “getting a real job”. For now I’m still looking for the high. Yay me! (Please don’t plan an intervention!)

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One comment on “Perseverance

  1. I think that what you are doing and what your are accomplishing is All about finishing your days have lived life – not waiting for it to happen. Of course you might have regrets at paths or choices but at the end of it all when you count it up – it comes down to OMG look what I Found out and experienced. I have lots of regrets but for today I have no regrets as life has turned out as it was meant to be. You have seized opportunities and found new things about you. I think back to Expo 86 in Vancouver and how you LOVED (as we did) the buskers and their improv. Remember your Dad as one of the Pigs? I still laugh and laugh…..
    Enjoy it all. You will love your life as you know how to embrace it to live with passion and joy

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