I act, therefore, I program

Earlier this month, half my weekend was spent at the theater, with 200 directors / auditors watching actors at the Theater Bay Area‘s General Audition, THE audition of the year for the San Francisco area.

The other half of my weekend was spent on the computer, with Byte of PythonKomodo Edit, and a terminal window open as took my first substantial crack to learn programming.

Same thing.

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When I was 14, I attended my first audition.

Attend is the right verb. I did not participate. I did not think that I was good enough to even merit an audition slot for the high school play.

So I attended. And watched.

I watched the audition, carefully analyzing ever actor’s movement, vocals, elocution, eye contact, facial expressions. I dutifully took notes in the back right of the theater.

The next day, I walked into the office of the director, Carol Hovey. I told her why I did not audition, but that I wanted to improve as an actor. And I was confident I could if she would give me a chance.

She did. I enrolled in Beginning Drama. I stayed after class to practice dialogues. I studied techniques. With practice with others and realizing it’s not so bad, I grew more confident.

I auditioned the following year for the school play. It was Rumors by Neil Simon. A small cast of nine was to be cast. I got the smallest part.

The next year, I auditioned again. It was Cyrano de Bergerac. A large cast was to be cast. I got one of the principal roles. And I continued to train with acting classes in the summer.

The next year, I auditioned again and got another part. That spring, Ms. Hovey cast me in the musical, even though I did not audition. As graduation neared, I was voted the “Most Likely to Win an Oscar” by my class.

In college and graduate school and since, I have continued to act on stage, in feature films, for videos, doing drama, comedy, voice-overs, improv. Pursuing a craft I love, with the confidence to step forth into the world and declare myself for who I am: I am an actor.

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With Director David Riker, on the set of The Girl, starring Abbie Cornish.

Which brings me back to programming.

This weekend, as I took my first steps toward learning Python, I felt the same trepidation as I did at nearly half my age, stepping into a theater to (attend an) audition for the first time.

You’re not ready.

You’re not good enough.

Don’t waste your time.

Don’t waste their time.

It’s too late for you.

It’s too far, too hard.

Maybe someday, but not now.

A lot has changed since then; I have grown up a lot.

But like a fine wine, the voice of no does not diminish with age.

Fortunately, neither does my passion for people.

When I was 14, I saw that acting aligned with my passion for people.

Acting is the domain of empathy, where audiences judge you based on how your portrayal of a character makes them feel and think and connect and act differently.

When I was 26, I saw that programming aligned with my passion for people.

Programming is the domain of empowerment, where users judge you based on your execution of a product that helps them do a job and makes their lives better.

I thought about learning programming a lot over the last year. I wanted to, but didn’t make time and only made excuses. A litany of concerns kept me away. But:

It’s a new year.

It’s the same drive.

It’s acting.

It’s programming.

It’s people.

It’s about time.

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