I'm in a dingly little room in Peru with the sounds of Cuzco barking through my window, and all I can think about is how the hell I'm going to make things work once I get home. I think it was realizing I'd run out of money over the course of this trip that brought it all back. Peruvian sols are worth a bit less than half than a Canadian Dollar, and it's easy to get carried away when you're buying food. You want to stay away from the fruit that'll make you sick, and you have to get bottled water. I looked through my money belt (basically a fanny pack but it's ok because you're travelling) and realized I only had a third of my money left. Two days into the trip.
To add onto this, we haven't really taken five minutes to just stop and breathe. Sunday was spent in planes, landing at 11:30PM, then making our way to our Airbnb (which was a great first time using Airbnb, thank you Miguel and Sonia). Thing is, our bags didn't get in with us. That means most of our Monday in Lima was spent buying things we would need (travel insurance works if you understand it), and continually trying to communicate with the airline to get our things back. Or even a faint idea of when we would get it back. The issue was we'd be leaving for Cuzco the next day, and were already concerned about the airline's ability to have our bags follow us.
I'm not the type of person to get stressed out easily, but this kind of thing does have a way of getting to me. If something is beyond my control, but you give me an illusion of control (calling the airline), I turn into a ball of stress and barely contained rage. Imagine a wall. You want to get through this wall, but you only have your bare hands. It might be dry wall or concrete for all you know. There's a crack in the wall. I'm the type of guy who sees the crack and puts everything he has into busting through it, whether it's possible or not. We ended up getting our bags back, about an hour before leaving for Cuzco. Then that flight got delayed, which means we rushed over to the tour we had booked that afternoon, completed it, then rushed to find our way to our second Airbnb. We also had a full day tour this morning. I didn't go. I've been in bed all morning, in Peru. This always happens when I travel. There's always a day when I just can't anymore.
Enough about silly travel woes, let's talk about what's really eating me up right now. I had a big win last week; I got an agent. Before and during my meeting with him, I began to understand that not getting auditions anymore didn't have as much to do with my lack of ability as I thought. It wasn't that there was something wrong with my look or my demeanor. Casting directors want you to have an agent. They might still want to see you without one, but it definitely helps to grease the wheels. So I got an agent, because I knew I wouldn't be moving forward without one. Now that I've had some time to think about it, I realize how difficult of a situation I'm in. My agent is in Toronto. I'm in Sherbrooke. The auditions I'll be getting are probably in Toronto. Toronto is an 8 hour drive away. More pressing: I have a headshot session with a photographer in Toronto the 24th. I'm back from Peru the 20th. It's not super difficult, not super complicated. All it means is I'm supposed to be on vacation and I'm already planning how to make it to this session.
Over my morning in bed in Peru, and a bit of a freakout last night, I realized why people don't stick to this...whatever I'm trying to do. This shit is hard. So hard. It's always felt difficult; I've been broke for a while, don't get to go out as much (unless I put it on a credit card), I'm working most of my day (and only a few of those hours are for paid work). Difficult is one thing. Hard is another. You know how in english class, they tell you to stay away from words like "bad", "good", "big" and "small"? I don't know if that's always accurate. It's probably come from reading Neil Gaiman. While his words are descriptive, sometimes he'll use a word like "good" in such a way that it'll say so much more than a word twice as long and worth twice as much on Wheel of Fortune. That's what "Hard" is. It goes beyond difficult, beyond the grind, past the "hustle" hashtags. It's when you're up at night, obsessing over all the decisions you've made. It's a 15 hour round trip for an interview. It's being overwhelmed with thoughts of work while you're supposed to be on vacation. It's what makes or breaks you. There's many in my kind of situation who are absolutely confident in what they're doing, and know for a fact they're going to make it. I think that's me most days. Some days though, the part of my brain that's kept me from trying to find my own path derides me with snide reminders. It reminds me of my bank account, and all the red I'm accumulating. It reminds me of how expensive and logistically complicated it is to get to Toronto just for an audition. It reminds me of all the people around me, so much further ahead. It gives them a voice, makes them say things I know they wouldn't say with their own. It wraps chains around me, locks me in and yanks me down.
There's another part of my brain, where the confidence is. It's not perfect and it knows it. It doesn't care about perfection. It knows that anything worth doing is worth sacrificing for. It knows that greatness isn't just a line you cross but a mountain range. That sometimes you'll climb, getting a better view of what lies ahead. Other times, you're stumbling down into a valley, which you need to trudge through before the next climb. You don't see anything while in the valleys, there's a strange canopy that blocks out the sun and obscures your path. You don't even have a good idea of what "forward" means here. There's times you'll fight your way through a valley, only to realize you've been going around in circles. This bright part of my brain though, it knows that there's always a climb that comes after the valley. It's a challenge in its own way, but you get a better view. It's a more encouraging struggle.
The bright part of my brain can cut away the chains, though it doesn't know how to do it beyond searing heat. Struggle leaves us scarred as we walk on. We rarely reach the end of a mountain range without signs of the burdens and trials that took us here. Nor do we reach the end without at least one chain wrapped around an ankle, ready to yank us back down when we're not careful.
I'm not sure where I am now. It's dark and feels like a valley. I caught glimpses of sunlight through the canopy overhead, and I feel like the next climb is close by. I feel an edge coming, though I'm not sure if it's the end of the valley, or the beginning of a pit. All I know is I need to keep trudging my way through, because there's no fucking way I'm staying in this valley.