In an interview I watched recently, comedian Jim Carrey related his worst experience on stage. Carrey said that he opened for a popular Canadian band early in his career. The crowd booed and shouted for him to get off the stage.
When the lights went off briefly as part of his act, something heavy and wet struck him across the chest. He staggered back slightly because of its weight. Then he smelled urine. A disgruntled group of audience members had urinated on a towel and thrown it at him.
Carrey said to the audience “Do you want me to leave?” In unison the crowd screamed, “Yes.” “I’ll get off the stage if everyone moons me,” he said. Audience members stood on their chairs with their backs toward the comedian and dropped their pants. Carrey said “If I were Greek, I’d be in heaven right now.” He walked off the stage.
When Carrey related this story in the interview, he said the incident did not tempt him to quit. He’d chosen a life in comedy and would continue to pursue his goal, no matter the setbacks.
Jim Carrey reminded me about the power of pursuing a passion.
Best-selling author Barbara Sher says that we must do what we love. She differentiates our passion, however, from our livelihood. Even if we can’t make a living doing what we love, we must make our passion a part of our lives.
For example, Sher says that if you’re a poet, you must write poetry. Although you probably won’t make a living as a poet, you can get a ‘good enough’ job to support your writing. Sher defines a ‘good enough’ job as one that pays the bills and leaves you with the energy to write. She suggests seeing the job as a way to support the arts.
Whether we make our passion our career, as Jim Carrey did, or whether it’s our avocation, following our passion gives meaning and purpose to our lives
Carrey’s story offers a reminder that no matter what life (or an audience) throws our way, we can always find a way to have the last laugh and keep going in the direction of our dreams.
How do you stay moving toward what matters most to you?