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The Life of Charles

The Maya Angelou Mash-Up Manifesto

For my first post, I decided to go with a five pack of Maya Angelou quotes to help introduce who I am and set the stage for the purpose of this blog. Now, I’m don’t own any of Maya Angelou’s poetry or books and I can’t say I’m a huge fan of her work. I do however enjoy a number of the pithy philosophies about life that have come out of her mouth over the years. She wasn’t the first to say any of these things, but they’re all eloquent slash memorable and hit me on a personal level. Maybe I ought to give her poetry another look… Here goes:

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

To quote Christopher Walken, “Wowie, Wow, wow, WOW!” This one pretty much sums up a pretty big turning point in my life. If you read the “About This Blog” section on the homepage, you know that I was a former advertising executive – a pretty successful one too. My most recent gig was as a VP at Digitas working on the Whirlpool business. I made good money and by all conventional measures was quite accomplished. At the same time, I was juggling this other world. This world of the arts and performing – one that had been a staple in my life from my first breath.

I would spend my days leading the marketing efforts for blue chip brands while also shaping the lives and careers of the people around me. In every other free moment, I would devote my time to classes and rehearsals and performances. I enjoyed what I did to make a living, but I “loved” this other world. I tried my best to do both, but as with most juggling acts, my focus was divided. While I had success in both arenas, I knew that there was more to give. I’m a believer that if you focus on any one thing – with love and devotion – it will be great.

For years, I had dreamt about making my passion my livelihood, but, like many, was afraid. It would take a huge risk and require some sacrifices. Finally, the time had come to make a choice.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

You control how you experience life. Attitude is indeed everything. There are two ways to view all the events you have in life: positively and negatively. It’s a choice. That what I think Maya is saying here and that’s what I believe.

While my time at Digitas was full of ups and downs, I’d characterize it as a great time in my life. I had achieved a professional goal and was surrounded by some bright and inspiring people. I had financial security and a life rich of wonderful experiences. So, what was missing? Passion. I wasn’t spending enough time doing what I loved. Period. I was working around the clock to lead the Whirlpool business, but my heart wasn’t completely in it and, at times, it was mentally and physically exhausting. I knew I needed a change.

It’s said that anything worth having in life is hard work and requires great risks. Elieen Vorbach, a Director and Acting Instructor, who I’ve had the privilege of training with often speaks about jumping off the high dive. This idea of having the will to leap into the pool not knowing if there’s any water. What she’s talking about here is taking a risk.

I didn’t like where my life was headed. So, I decided to make a bold move and change it. While it took me some time to make the jump off the high dive, I finally did it. It was scary and exciting, but, above all else, it was worth it. Absolutely worth it.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I live life to make other people’s lives better. What gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside is when I’m able to make an impact on other people. Being able to make a difference, to make someone else’s life more enjoyable, yeah, there’s no feeling quite like it.

As an artist and a human being, that’s my goal. I want to inspire people and move them and do my part to make the world we live in a better place.

“Love life, engage in it, give it all you’ve got. Love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.”

Every breath is a blessing. I’ve has multiple near-death experiences in my life, starting with the day I was born. I had a rare condition in which there was a whole in my diaphragm and all my vital organs were mixed up inside. If it weren’t for the fact that a certain specialist was in the hospital that day, I was sure to be a goner. Obviously, I survived and, supposedly, I’m one of only two people to ever survive that surgery. The point of sharing that quick story is that life is truly precious. It can be taken away in a moment. So, why not enjoy it. In a TED Talk, Steve Jobs once posed the question, “How would you live today if it was your last day on earth?” It amazing how rewarding life can be if you “give it all you’ve got.”

“All great achievements require time.”

As the cliché goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can’t build a coliseum or a castle or a house overnight. It takes time. You build things brick by brick. In one of my favorite videos – a montage of Will Smith clips – there’s an interview where the former Fresh Prince explains this idea by basically saying that each day you have the opportunity to lay a brick as perfectly as you possibly can. The next day you can do the same and then the next, the next and so on until one day you have a house. True that. Double true.

In a nutshell, that’s what this blog is basically about. Me living moment to moment – day to day – laying bricks. I’ll spend time posting about my journey as an actor and as a human being. Along the way, you’ll get a bunch of observations, philosophies, fun finds, and, well, a whole bunch of other stuff that basically constitutes my life. I hope you enjoy it, because I definitely will.

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