As we get older and look back at what we’ve accomplished or who we’ve become, there’s that urging feeling to reboot, start this shit all over again and live life the way we really want to. I mean we’re still young, so why not? It’s not that we all want to be someone else; we just want to be the person we see in our imagination… so why not become that? It’s you without the insecurity and bullshit obligations you’ve made important in order to feel secure. If you can’t change who you are completely, then DON’T — just be who you want to be. It’s really that simple; you’re just going to need the proper excuse. Let me explain…
This story begins because of how it ends, on West 58th and 9th Avenue near Central Park. I stood outside the Hudson Hotel, which earlier that week I’d appropriately nicknamed “the closet”, due to the small size of my expensive room. I stood there realizing that the life I’d once lived was over, as there comes a time in every young man’s life when he must make a choice.
Mine was simple. Either I was going to continue to bullshit and live the life I’d once lived, or instead, become the man I’d always longed to be. I’d toiled with the option for too long. Fortunately, for all of my indecisiveness, the universe forced my hand that day. My entire life – everything I owned – was now in the trunk of a town car, somewhere in New York City.
But that’s the end of the story…
It started a few days earlier in Los Angeles. On a mattress, in an apartment better suited for a drug addict, rather than a talented screenwriter. See, anyone who’s ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. I was there, next to a naked woman I’d wanted to bed for the past three years. When I’d met her, she was barely nineteen and I, nearly twenty-three. At the time, she represented everything that was right about Los Angeles: young, rich, beautiful, alcoholic.
But at this point, three years later, I despised her. She was an out of work actress and me, an unemployed genius. We knew we’d never last. She was there because her friends had distanced themselves, and I was the only one currently willing to fuel her drunken nights. She now represented everything I’d come to hate about Los Angeles: young, lazy, pretentious f*cks. Me included. Oh… I should’ve moved to New York City when I had the chance. Fear. F*cking fear. But this was my life. Poor choices and fear had put me here, but I wasn’t ready to settle into a life of mediocrity and self-medication.
I wanted to change my life. Transcend. I just needed the proper excuse. You see, unfortunately, for as talented and charming as I believed myself to be, at twenty-six, I’d become everything I’d never wanted to be and consequently, everything everyone else expected me to be: a failure. But who said potential couldn’t last this long?
My real problem was I couldn’t see past the grandeur of my own imagination. There’s a certain error to knowing you’ll succeed. You sometimes forget to do it. Sometimes you become too entertained by your own mischief, and for as entertaining as it can be, it’s the unhealthiest thing a person can do. Sometimes the metal on the sullen ground doesn’t glimmer from the sun. Sometimes it blinds people, and they avert that area all together. If you haven’t read ‘Henry the Fourth,’ that’ll probably make no sense.
A better excerpt: “I’ll so offend to make offense a skill, redeeming time when men think least I will.” Much better. I thought, such as this, that when I was ready to be great… I would be. That theory is dangerous. If you offend to make offense a skill, you run the risk of never defining yourself. That was my fear, that I could easily be forgotten because I hadn’t become someone that someone would want to remember.
So now that we know how much of a f*ck up I was, let’s go to the end, which is back to where this story begins – that day outside the Hudson Hotel. The bellhop at the hotel noted how strangely optimistic I was about my current situation: “If those were my bags in the back of that car, I’d be livid!”
*In case you were wondering, I was in Manhattan shooting a documentary for the release of the film ‘Red Tails,” but who gives a fuck; I just didn’t want you wondering why I was in Manhattan and not Los Angeles.
What the bellhop didn’t know is I hated everything in that luggage. It represented an odious cancer attached to my true identity – that odious cancer, of course, being myself for the past three years. If only I could change, upstage myself in every boastful comment I’d ever made. The anxiety I was feeling was the same feeling I had pacing in my parent’s kitchen back in Seattle, knowing I was meant to do something great; I just had to take the risk. Eliminate fear. Conquer. Become.
Become him. It. That. The cultivation of everything I’d ever learned. Experienced. Experimented with. The drugs. The women. The education. The late nights. I gave “it” a name: SAINT VINCENT BLACKWELL. The name itself was strong. Saint was a more supreme version of Dominic, like, my ten million dollar self. Saint was a far more impressive presentation of a man. Regal even. Immaculately articulate. Well read. Meticulously well dressed. A gentleman. Whiskey drinker, champagne too. An international sybarite. Rich, but not gaudy. Gaudy, but never too lively. Adored. Respected. Sought after, but reclusive. A man-about-town. Worked hard. Played harder. Worked while playing, then went back to work when everyone else had went to sleep. Saint was quietly boastful. Humbly great. Overzealously ambitious. Saint was I.
To sum up Saint in a word: SPREZZATURA – an Italian word. Originating from Baldassare Castigliones’s book ‘The Book of the Courtier.’ Defined as, a certain nonchalance, so to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says to be without effort. The ability of the courtier to display an easy facility in accomplishing difficult actions which hides the conscious effort that went into them. Defensive irony.
To become Saint, I’d have to forget. To forget, I’d have to suffer. To suffer, I’d have to commit. Saint would require sacrifice, and in order for Saint to survive, I’d have to suppress all my excuses about why I wasn’t who or what I wanted to be… and just be him – that burning desire inside myself to supersede all notions of success. To be Saint, meant to be great — the two go hand in hand.
It started to rain outside the Hudson Hotel, as I watched the town car service drive away with all my shit. I smiled at the thought of all my belongings being somewhere in New York City. I’d become too comfortable with mediocrity and routine. I was too addicted to alcohol. I was too distant to my loved ones. I wasn’t the person I wanted to be.
But now, I could finally change. I had the proper excuse to start over. Having nothing, for the first time, meant I could set out to achieve everything I wanted all over again, a clean slate. I would still be Dominic, but with Saint’s mindset, characteristics, discipline and dreams. Saint would become my stage name, while I was performing in real life.
The head of Hudson Hotel security came outside to take a report on the incident and extended his hand. I extended mine, “Saint.” “Nice to meet you Saint.” And there, standing in the street, I thought to myself, “Me too.”
Everything in life happens, whether it’s for a reason or not. And if you don’t like the way shit is going… change. You don’t have to be who you were yesterday. Be the voice that talks to you in the mirror in the morning, that confident mother*cker who wouldn’t worry about the simple sh*t you worry about. Create your alter ego, define yourself, live your dreams and always find another excuse to be better, or at least the best possible version of yourself. That’s all.
Photos Courtesy: Tumblr