Bryan Cranston Gives Advice to the Young: Find Yourself by Traveling and Getting Lost

I don’t know what time you’re read­ing this post but “What do you real­ly want to do in life?” is a ques­tion that can wake you up right fast, or make you want to pack it in and sleep on it.

It’s also a ques­tion asked maybe a bit too ear­ly of our young peo­ple, which starts with fan­ta­sy (“What do you want to be when you grow up?” “A space­man!”) and by our teens it turns into a more seri­ous, fate-decid­ing inquiry by peo­ple who may not be hap­py with their sta­tion in life.

Actor Bryan Cranston takes on this ques­tion in this Big Think video, and extolls the virtues of trav­el and wan­der­ing.

“Trav­el­ing forces you to be social,” Cranston says. “You have to get directions.You have to learn where things are. You’re attuned to your envi­ron­ment.”

Cranston thought he was going to be a police­man when he entered col­lege. Then he took an act­ing class. So, at 19, Cranston explored Amer­i­ca for two years by motor­cy­cle with his broth­er, in essence to find them­selves by get­ting lost. He says he’s passed on this direc­tion­less wan­der­ing to his now 24 year-old daugh­ter.

That idea of let­ting go and just wan­der­ing also dove­tails nice­ly into his oth­er advice about audi­tions. You don’t go there to get a job, you go to cre­ate a char­ac­ter and present it. The rest is out of your con­trol.

Now, Cranston says that the peri­od between high school/college and the “real world” is the best time to do it, but there’s real­ly no time like right now. To quote Niger­ian author Chi­ma­man­da Ngozi Adichie, “I think you trav­el to search and you come back home to find your­self there,” and the boats are always leav­ing. Just jump on.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

21 Artists Give “Advice to the Young:” Vital Lessons from Lau­rie Ander­son, David Byrne, Umber­to Eco, Pat­ti Smith & More

Ray Brad­bury Gives 12 Pieces of Writ­ing Advice to Young Authors (2001)

John Cleese’s Advice to Young Artists: “Steal Any­thing You Think Is Real­ly Good”

Walt Whit­man Gives Advice to Aspir­ing Young Writ­ers: “Don’t Write Poet­ry” & Oth­er Prac­ti­cal Tips (1888)

Ursu­la Le Guin Gives Insight­ful Writ­ing Advice in Her Free Online Work­shop

Aki­ra Kurosawa’s Advice to Aspir­ing Film­mak­ers: Write, Write, Write and Read

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

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