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.
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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 tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.
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