This YouTube video is from Maron’s podcast, WTF. Cranston is talking about the typical progression of an actor’s career and relating it to his own, and then this beautiful moment happens:
Marc Maron: Were there points in the career where you were like, this isn’t happening fast enough or this isn’t working out?
Bryan Cranston: No.
Marc: That’s amazing, sort of, determination.
Bryan: Well, I think it’s because I didn’t have any attachment to an outcome. I think when people enter this business with that, like, you’ll hear people say, “I’m going to give it a year. I’m going to give it a good, solid year, and if I haven’t made it by then…” , and I’m saying, what do you mean? What’s “make it?” What does that mean, “made it?” Everybody has their different idea. But that’s attaching your life to an outcome. But if you love this artform and you commit your life to it, then all you really want is opportunity to be able to make a living. It’s never A to B to C to D. It’s always a different way.
That’s what has been stuck in my head: Bryan Cranston describing how someone gives their life’s passion “a shot” before giving up on it forever. I just picture a vibrant and smiling young actor ready to take on the world at the outset of his acting career, and then flash forward to same person twelve months later with slumped shoulders and a defeated scowl, shuffling off to a job that he will hate and resent for the rest of his life. All because he made up an arbitrary goal with an even more arbitrary deadline that he’s (also arbitrarily) decided will define the rest of his life.
Cranston points out the stupid trap so many of us build around ourselves. We take this beautiful, pure thing that we love to do and we mess it up with self-criticism, comparison with others, and a lot of rules about how to achieve it.
In my own experience, this rings so true. Starting something new means that any goal I define is likely loaded with misconceptions and misguided assumptions.
Failure is just a dumb thing that you tell yourself to believe. The good news is you don’t have to. I like Cranston’s approach: commit your life to something you love right now, and don’t attach yourself to an outcome.
Before I end this post, I thought I’d give a bit of a teaser for my new book. I’m being careful with how much I reveal, so bear with me. This is a photo of all the book’s finished drawings in a stack on my studio floor. I want to show you more so stay tuned.