I'm just going to say it: searching for a fun and blissful life is dangerous if we're working with a shallow definition of 'fun' or of 'bliss.' In fact, I would argue that doing that will lead to our missing out on more than half of our human experience. Here's the problem. We live in a commercial culture that has gone way beyond basic laws of supply and demand, of production and consumption. We now live in an environment in which a disproportionate amount of a business' resources is allocated to the manipulative effort of selling us things that, in rational terms, we might not need... or even desire! Nevertheless, we convince ourselves (with expert help from those selling us things) that signing up for yoga or the gym will make us fit, that buying high fashion couture will make us classy, or buying vintage will make us hip, that reading purposefully dramatic and misleading headlines will make us knowledgeable about current events, and that getting 30% off a purchase is actually a favor from the store and a one-time opportunity to save money!
Too many of us are feeding only the side of the equation that defines escapism. At some point, we have been led away from the Epicurean definition of pleasure as 'the absence of pain' and we've been operating on a manufactured pathway to 'fun' and life 'fulfillment.' And now we're conditioned to not only run away from any conflict or discomfort, but to label those who accept it as a reality of life as stupid, or unreasonable, or overachieving, because, say we, they're not smart enough, progressive enough to know how to get things without discomfort. The best things in life are free... have you heard that? NOTHING IS FREE. And certainly not the best things in life. ENERGY IS REQUIRED BY ALL PROCESSES.
And here's where an actor's FOCUS comes in. Wherever my focus goes, my energy goes. In real life, and given the choice, I will choose to place mostly my focus on things and people that give me the sense of pleasure, or comfort, of gratifying personal aesthetic. I will choose to spend the least time on those things I find challenging, tragic, insurmountable, and self-defined as 'ugly.' But as an actor, I train to engage in the latter in almost every scene. Good plays, good scripts, place the characters in difficult situations through which they have to struggle if they are to achieve their objective. We are trained not to deflect, but to take things personally and to deal with them relative to the value of what we desire. And the one weapon that trumps them all in this fight is the actor's sense of truth. Truth of the situation. Truth of the nature of the relationship. Truth of my intentions. Of course, the character may behave in escapist or self-manipulating ways, but the actor knows that the source of that is insecurity, or fear, or an overwhelming sense of greed, etc.. However, in real life, we sometimes 'act ' the self-deluding scene so often that we start believing we are the behavior, and forget its source. An actor knows that words don't mean anything until we've grappled with searching where they come form... that is, until we search for, and find, the truth.
Self-deception and escapism create a malignant tumor that eventually manifests. Facing our own truth, no matter how painful, is the only thing that eventually creates positive and lasting change. Running away from problems in a relationship can cost years off your life. Lying to yourself about your motivations, your capabilities can rob you of your otherwise invincible sense of confidence. Escaping into behaviors that treat the symptoms but leave the virus intact will rob you of your health. I say that because I've experienced them all. If only I had had the strength and the focus of an actor battling for his character. If only I had know the value of going through the pain of honesty and its ability to then set you, and everyone else, free. If only I had not run off the stage, but stayed and dealt with the obstacle... If only I had accepted that pain is, indeed, inevitable. Maybe then I wouldn't have chosen to suffer through it.
But now I am an actor. And now I know. Stay in the room. Move through it. Not around it.