Before I get into this metaphorical description of an actor playing the role of bamboo, let’s acknowledge the irony and move on. Everyone has been asked if they are “playing the trees” in their next production. Yes, the joke from our Muggle friends and family is still hilarious. Every. Single. Time.
In this rare case, however, I will encourage you to see yourself as a bamboo branch. (Please excuse any drama school PTSD.)
Bamboo is the fastest-growing plant in the world, according to the uninitiated. Guinness World Records has recorded some species growing up to 91cm (35in) in 24 hours. Insane, right?
However, its growth is almost inaudible for the first three years of the bamboo tree’s life. One could assume that the bamboo tree had died. But what we don’t see is the underground root network being created.
During this time. The vast underground root network supports and enables unparalleled and unrivalled growth when it is right.
What does this have to do with acting?
Three incredibly wisdom-filled nuggets can be taken from this parable and directly applied to our lives as actors and humans. Please bear with me. I would love to hear your thoughts.
#1 Growth is not always obvious
This isn’t easy to accept in today’s world, where instant gratification is the norm. If every farmer quit at any stage in the first three years, discouraged by the lack of progress from the outside world, there wouldn’t be any bamboo. We should also strive to measure our progress by other factors than those visible from the outside. If
We are caring for our bamboo plant (i.e. Your charming actor self, and caring for it every day. We have to believe that everything will work out as it should. Yes, it would be best if you did the work, but it is equally important to let Mother Nature take care of it.
#2 It is redundant to compare trees.
Similar to how we compare ourselves to others in modern times, we often forget to recognize that we are seeing two completely different experiences. Your high school friend (let’s call him an apple tree, for the sake of metaphor) might seem impressive compared to you, but you are not an apple tree. The comparison is unrelated and illogical and shouldn’t be a cause for a mental spiral downward. It is easier to say than do, but awareness can make a big difference. This would be something you would politely mention to a frustrated bamboo farmer, wouldn’t it? This dear soul would be gently reminded that apple trees and bamboo trees are on different journeys.
#3 Lasting ‘success’ requires persistence.
You won’t need to look long to see a common thread among the greatest in any field. They had to overcome adversity, and their determination, tenacity, and resilience were essential to their success. Grit – the determination and strength of character that is a key variable in success – is often cited as a critical variable in life. It can be used to predict one’s success in all walks of life, including sports, relationships, and careers. A few people have achieved success overnight, only to disappear into the ether months or years later. We don’t want to hear that. We are here to make a lasting impact.
The bottom line is that 99% of a panda’s diet comes directly from bamboo. Without bamboo, we would not have pandas, making the world very sad.
Without you, the world will not see your brilliance, creativity, and innovation. It would be a very sad world indeed.