4:00AM and the morning mist hovers over the driveway pavement. It envelops the rose bushes and the base of the two maple's next to the cemetery and detached garage with no sign of dissipation. Blades of grass drip with dew. No wind, no rain; just dew. Weird, somehow among the stillness and calm, there is a sense of uneasiness and nervous energy. Perhaps this will fade when the clouds break and the sun warms the earth?
"When will I find out", I thought to myself, anxiously. I'm not sure how this time will be any different than the last dozen or so. The same shtick for the past four decades and no advancement besides the detached one-car garage. "Is this what making it feels like?", I think again. I thought the last time was the greatest achievement. Each one comes disguised in anxious excitement and joy only to have those emotions fade like everything else in my life. A momentary high followed by a crash and silence. Empty, vapid silence. Almost to the point of hearing my own heartbeat without putting a hand or finger on my neck. It's a lonely feeling. Wishing and wanting something greater, only to find out when it's here that it isn't as great as it was made out to be; it was an illusion.
"I thought you were going to the bathroom?", "I was."
"Come back to bed, it's cold out here.", "Give me some more time."
"No sense sitting out here waiting for the call, they said you will know by dawn."
"I'll be in soon."
She could have a point. Hemming and hawing out here won't bring about a decision any faster. It's like waiting for the kettle to boil. She doesn't understand the trials and tribulations of a theatrical performer, though. But who could expect that of her? I've done my best to expose her to my world and me to hers. Baking isn't a performance art per se, however, it does take craft and persistence, I'll give that one to her. But people need to eat, do people need the theatre? Maybe it's a want? Gosh, I'm so stupid. Listen to yourself! It's 4AM and you're going on your existential rant again and all about something out of your control. Roles come and go, if not this one then there will be plenty more, although I'm a bit older than most in this profession. Maybe now is a good time to retire.
I always thought this side of the rainbow would be colorful and filled with riches, prestige and adoration. Wrong. I was dead wrong. They were dead wrong. It's all a facade. It was romanticized and glamorized by everyone and I foolishly bit the bait. It's the only thing I was good at and could do very well. They would applaud and lust after me and it felt amazing. Having that power and control over a room of people waiting to see you do your thing. Curtains would rise and the moment I was recognized that was it; the "standing O". So loud and booming that the roar of the crowd shook my skull; I couldn't hear anything. My thoughts were nonexistent; it was bliss.
Only so many standing O's though before that feeling rushes back again and you're left questioning; why am I here? Did I finally leave my mark? Has an imprint been left on their hearts? Have I achieved the level of what some deem success by my one-car garage and two maple trees? Has my questioning enslaved me these past several years to where I'm now a washed-up talent with barely any accolades? Surely someone would hire me to do a song and a dance once again. I can't imagine why they wouldn't, unless they're placating me to try and make me feel important.
Nope. I'm not playing the role of martyr again today. It's still early, I have time to script something else. "Brrr...", I shutter. She was right, it is cold out here. Perhaps I'll get a call. Or I can take up baking and try it her way for a while; she seems peppy most days. I can learn something new. Or I'll sit here on the porch and wait for the morning dew to evaporate. I don't know...
It happens to all of us in some form or another. Our reactions, however, may be very different.
You meet someone brand new and they introduce their self using a first (and sometimes) last name. You strike up a nice conversation about something you enjoy, maybe music or movies. A week or even a few days go by and you run into this person again, only you have no clue what their name is or what letter of the alphabet it started with. Panic sets in which leads to coming up with crafty ways to get them to say their name again so you can look like you remember. Or perhaps you ask them for their number at which point you play dumb and ask them how they spell their name. "It's Matt...", he replies. "My name is Matt". Dumbfounded, you put your tail between your legs because you've been caught! Sound familiar at all? Not all people react this way or even give something so simple as someone's name much thought. But why is it that names are so difficult for many to remember?
I tend to be open and honest when reintroducing myself by saying something like "You're going to have to forgive me, what's your name again?", which then I follow it up by saying my name as well so they can remember if they have forgotten mine. I've been known to ask people more than 2 or 3 times what their name is. Some get frustrated, some laugh it off, and some even are offended that I didn't remember them! I love psychology and analyzing things like this, which is why I'm writing a blog about it. I have a few theories as to why this happens, the first being that names are a useless means of information for the brain.
A name is useless data for the brain. Unless your specific brain has come across someone or something associated with a familiar name once before, chances are you won't remember it.
The name James ranks number 1 in the USA with over 5.3 million males with the name. Take a moment right now to think about 1 person whom you know to have the name James. Now, if you were to run into a brand-new face and their name happens to be James, you will most likely connect and associate them to someone or something with whom/which you have already had a connection, whether you're aware of it or not. James is a book in the bible, is used in "James and the Giant Peach", a song by Billy Joel, and is also the name of many actors, performers, and musicians. So it's more likely that a name like James won't escape your brain since there is a wide variety from which your brain can pull from like past experiences, prior knowledge, things/people in culture and society and other associations.
"Boran" on the other hand is one of the least commonly used names in the USA, ranking fewer than 1,700 people and is statistically the 49,057th most popular first name. I will have some trouble remembering a name like that if I were to ever come across someone named Boran, although, now it should be easier for me personally since I am using his/her name in this blog post! "Hi, my name is Boran", they said. "Great! I wrote a blog about you"... now I've made the mental connection to his/her name. There is one Chinese singer named Jing Boran, and the name is also synonyms with Boran cattle. Okay, I admit, I had to do a google search to figure out someone named Boran. It will take me quite a while to learn a name I'm not familiar with if I've never heard of it before.
The fact is that it's not our fault nor should we try to play a game to avoid an uncomfortable or embarrassing situation like this. It's understandable as it's part of our biology and wiring as human beings. Some people can remember names quite easily and some have more difficulty. Where ever you fall on the spectrum, just remember that it's okay to not know. I taught high school for 1 year, and by graduation day, I STILL didn't know all of my students names, and I had 55 of them to remember.
I'll leave you with this short, yet comical video from "The Office" (I apologize for the poor quality)...
Statistics in this blog were found using the USA Census and www.howmanyofme.com