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Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Sneak Peek from (the book) The Gospel According to Josh



Holy freaking cow. So full disclosure, I’m at the tail end (I think. I hope.) of finishing writing a 350 page book version of The Gospel According to Josh. It’s vulnerable. It’s deep. It’s gonna be the hotness. And I wanted to share some of it with you because...well, I like you...and maybe because the message of the writing could be of use to you. 

How? Give me just a sec, I’ll get to that. But this portion of writing I’m sharing with you did not originate as a piece of the book. It’s actually from a diary/blog I started in January 2011 and something that’s never seen the light of day—till now. 
This particular post I wrote in early February 2011 and it’s interesting to me because I think it’s useful to see where you are as a person from one year to the next and how you’ve grown and changed etc. (Gulp) Here goes:

An excerpt from the book version of The Gospel According to Josh: (Insert Funny Unfinished Subtitle)

--
The Power of Prayer

Today I’m feeling the best that I have in awhile. I’m also thinking about the value of prayer. But what I’d really like to talk about today and what seems to be even more valuable to me than simply just praying is praying out loud. 

Now let me just give a little disclaimer that at times I might be a little spiritual but I tend to keep my religious beliefs to myself. I want to include everyone, religious or atheist who may have mental health issues (or not). 

Back to praying out loud. So recently I have rediscovered prayer after about seven to eight years of not praying once. I grew up in very religious home but felt a little oppressed by it so I vowed to leave it all behind completely. I’ve always felt spiritual and have always believed in a higher being (God) but I haven’t felt the need to talk to God until recently. And for me, praying out loud by myself has really helped my depression. 

I feel like when we simply think things and never focus enough to say our thoughts out loud or write them down, the thoughts become jumbled or forgotten and not acted upon. But speaking thoughts out loud or writing them down is a form of taking action. We’ve focused on what we want and are taking the effort to try to remember them again. So when I pray I ask God to help me to feel better. I ask Him to help me connect to positive people and positive experiences. I ask for motivation and wisdom and I ask to be a better friend, son, brother, future husband and father (those last two aren’t imminent but they could happen). I ask for all of these things over and over out loud. And by asking for these things over and over, I’m actually starting to make efforts to be that better friend, son and brother. I’m actively seeking out positive experiences and people. It’s not a perfect or perfected process but it’s helping me and I imagine it helps some of you as well and I wanted to share and connect about this recent revelation. 

Now I do know that sometimes when I’m praying I’m connecting to God and sometimes when I’m asking for these things over and over I’m just talking to myself. But the repetition of these prayers is very similar to a mantra. And according to my Apple dictionary a mantra is a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation. So the repetition helps me concentrate on what I need. I think my point on this is that we spiritual or religious folk can relate to our atheist friends on this point of praying out loud/repeating a mantra. All of us can ask God for things we need help with consistently and out loud OR if we don’t believe in God (and even if we do) we can consistently repeat mantras of things we need help with in our lives...(can this previous sentence be fixed for clarity?)...

Sometimes it’s nice to know that all of us, as different as we are, have a few more things in common than we realize when we just break things down and analyze them a little bit. Have a great day and thanks for reading.

Love,
Josh

I’m not sure how this post will go over and I’m famous for ruining the moment with my sometimes vulgar humor so I’ll simply say again, thanks for reading. -J

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"I am Adam Lanza's Mother"*



I want to take time from our regularly scheduled communication to write to you, tastefully I hope, and respond and talk about the tragic incident that befell 26 of our brothers and sisters in Newton, Connecticut this last Friday.

As many of you know I work often in the field of mental health and suicide prevention as an advocate and public speaker on the importance of mental wellness, community and yes even suicide prevention.

First, I want to take a moment to express that I care for each and every single one of you dearly and deeply, whether or not I see you or speak with you on a regular basis. It’s in these times we are compelled to come together as Americans, but most importantly as human beings and as a community to grieve our losses and support one another.

Support and community are the things I’m most concerned for. This young man, this Adam Lanza, from the reports that have come out over the past few days, was not mentally well and I, as an advocate for mental wellness, would be remiss in not taking this opportunity to have a brief dialogue with you and say that we as a society must demand of ourselves and our leaders better treatment and better education on early warning signs of children and adults who are not mentally well and who need greater support so these acts of violence against others and against self do not continue to occur.

It is not enough that we shed tears and offer our thoughts and prayers for these victims and their memory. The best way we can honor their lives is by:

a) offering our support to each other with open, honest, and vulnerable words and communication

b) by paying more attention to the mental health of ourselves, our neighbors, and people who most would find undesirable to share a room with, and

c) find a way to educate ourselves about how to help oneself and our neighbor when in (mental or physical) crisis.

If there’s anything I can ever do to help or support you in any way, please do not ever hesitate to email or pick up a phone and call.

Lastly, please take a moment to read the article which I’ve provided a link to. It paints an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to live with a young person struggling and dealing with mental illness: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-mental-illness-conversation_n_2311009.html

With love and blessings,
Josh

—-
PS. I’m working on a project, “The I am Worthy Project,” in April ’13 in Mystic Connecticut, just under 2 hours away from Newton, CT. We’re working on bringing suicide prevention and mental health awareness and training to the community. I’m donating some of my time and services to this “Worthy” cause. Please take a moment if you have it and check out the project and if you feel compelled, please consider making a donation to help make this project a reality. Many thanks: http://www.indiegogo.com/Iamworthy/x/1909340

*Originally published through the blog The Arts Entrepreneur

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Blog Post from Mr. Duane


Hello bosses, bossettes, and friends of Joshua.

Mr. Duane here, you know the Mr. Scott Duane from Joshua’s play The Gospel According to Josh. 

I can not believe that I, a humble high school English teacher, made it in to the annals of history by being written and then portrayed by Joshua himself in what some would call the writings of a poor, or even completely destitute, man’s Jack Kerouac—minus the road trip and ramblings of beat poetry.

In our year together in high school more than ten years ago now, Joshua was not much of an English student, in fact I thought him to be completely illiterate until he read a passage, and brilliantly I might add, of Green Eggs and Ham for the first of many senior English class book assignments. 

But in truth, we’ve heard enough about Joshua. This is my proverbial time to shine, my illustrious and well-deserved fifteen seconds of fame and I intend to milk every last nano-second from our friend and enemy, father time.

If you like Joshua’s play, at all, then you’ll love my new one-man play—written and performed by the thespian of all thespians, me of course—entitled Amazing Grace, How Putrid the Smell. In this three hour epic poem of sorts, I begin my life as an actual sperm cell who grows to be the son of a butcher, also a man who has secret designs to be a hand model, in the Meatpacking District in New York City in the early 1950’s. It’s a tale of love, loss, losing one’s hands, a week in a minimum security prison, and sexual discovery in the face of having no anus—a work of art that Jackson Township New Jersey’s Tri-Town News called, “A frantic run through the park at night,” “verbal masturbation,” and, “one-hundred eighty minutes of grief and pained laughter.” 
We’ve just extended the run of the show two more weeks and I do hope you can make it. I’m not too familiar with the internet so if you want to come see Amazing Grace, How Putrid the Smell, make sure you get in touch with Joshua and he’ll give you all the information you need.

Thank you all very much and I look forward to writing to you again very soon.

All my best,

Scott Kristobel Duane

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What is Great Theatre?


Some of the very first pieces of theatre that were staged as plays in the traditional sense, originated in ancient Greece and were performed by one actor.

Theatre in ancient Greece was part of a broad culture that commented on and was integrated into politics, religion, law, sport, or life and death.

In his Poetics, Aristotle said that theatre provided the viewer with a catharsis, or purification and healing through means of a vision. Great theatre must entertain the viewer while helping them reconnect with the needs of their humanity and the needs of a larger society

Thinking about theatre’s past with an eye on the future I wanted to try to define what great modern theatre should entail, specifically with The Gospel According to Josh in mind:

Selfless: Often solo shows or other pieces of theatre are described as “vanity pieces,” where a singular person wears multiple hats of a writer, producer, and actor. But this piece in particular and all its components are much bigger than the person running around with a bunch of hats his head to make this project work (see: suicide prevention work in the community, job creation for support staff, the want and hope to inspire with the show’s themes)

Entertaining: There should be a clear want stated by the protagonist (main character) from the very beginning of the play, and obstacles should be sprinkled throughout until the protagonist gets what he is looking for. Humor and poignancy should also be factors in the script. A big thank you to Matt Hoverman and Josh Gaboian for their help in ensuring that all these factors are paid attention to in The Gospel...  script. 

A Message: The audience should come away hearing some sort of message that speaks to them in a way that causes them to think about their lives and the importance of their place in the world. Perseverance, familial relationships, forgiveness, love, community, and suicide prevention have all been messages taken away from The Gospel... so far and I wonder and hope there are more to be discovered.

Support to the community: This somewhat goes back to the aspect of selflessness, but community is such an important theme to this piece. If a solo show or any piece of theatre didn’t take care of a larger community, then a huge opportunity is lost in making long lasting friendships and sharing the true gift of your show. Preparations are being made to donate a large portion of our Off-Broadway ticket sales to various suicide prevention, crisis intervention, and other health service charities. We want to also do weekly talkbacks on suicide prevention, producing theatre for the solo-show community, running a business for small business owners, and any other relevant topic that comes up throughout the run.

These components of great theatre apply to any business large or small and can be used and implemented at any time.

I’d also be curious to hear what you might think great theatre is. Any great suggestions will make their way back to this blog with your name credited as a contributor and will be used during the Off-Broadway run of The Gospel According to Josh. Thanks!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Eight Ways to Find Your Creative Spark: Part Two



Innovators, renaissance men and women, and artists are some of the most interesting and admired people on the planet. These are people who shunned convention and created something personal that touched the lives of hundreds, thousands, or even millions. 

Anyone can be a creator and innovator but where does someone like a Larry Page, a David Mamet, a Wynton Marsalis, a Robert Shapiro—how do these kinds of people find their creative spark? 

The good news is that these folks are just like you and me but they know how to ignite their creative spark and harness its power. Here are four ways to help you to find your creative spark. 

Take a Shower: A mindless, every day task like a shower, a long drive, or cooking a meal can spur creativity. These easy tasks leave little room for thought and give room for bigger thoughts to appear. 

Read and Observe: It’s of the utmost importance to look at other people’s work similar to your own when trying to create. If you’re a writer you read a variety of novels, memoirs, and magazines. If you’re a dancer, you watch the Alvin Ailey Dance troupe or even go to your local dance studio and see what kinds of combinations are being choreographed. By doing this, you’re working as a freelance apprentice and learning your craft the way any great artisan would.

Revisit the Pain: Ever hear the phrase, “Comedy comes from tragedy?” Sometimes it’s okay to revisit a bit of personal or familial pain you’e experienced in the past. It can be therapeutic and cathartic but will also give your creation a real piece of humanity and truthfulness that can be redesigned on an assembly line. Give yourself permission to fully explore your pain and if you need, work with someone who can help you harness the pain and turn it into art. 

Eliminate the Distractions: Turn off the phone, shut off the email, and find a time of day that works for you when you’re most creative. If you don’t have time to be creative—put it in your schedule. Make time for it and abide by it at least once a week. 

Two ingredients with any creative process or project must always be present. 
One, it has to be fun—it can’t be a chore to work creatively, and two, it has to be intriguing—it can’t be something as interesting as watching water drip from the faucet, it has to be something you can’t wait to sink your teeth into!

I hope that helps—now go out there and create! Write a symphony, knit a new scarf, write a new play, and go change the world.

Oh and wondering where part 1 is? Here it is: Part 1

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Physician, Heal Thyself (A blog on Mental Health Management)



Phew, what an interesting week. I got a chance to go to three U.S. States (New York, Pennsylvania, and Iowa) and one Canadian Province (Ontario) to speak about the importance of mental health and suicide prevention. 

The overall response I got in all of these places was just tremendous and helping and healing were some of the by-products of being able to speak to the communities I visited. But there was one person I forgot to help while traveling those 3,100 miles this week, and that was myself. 

While I generally shy away diary-type blog posts, talking about this is supremely important because if am someone who goes around stressing the need to talk openly and honestly about mental health, I should be someone who does the same thing and so here are some things I learned about my mental health management this week. Hopefully you’ll be able to glean something useful from this for your own mental health management.

Scheduling: 
Just because someone asks you to go somewhere or do something doesn’t mean you have to do it. In my want to please everyone and to take on the world, I realized I need to take care of myself first and foremost. I can’t schedule in so much work without scheduling in exercise, down time, and friend time and not expect to feel burnt out. If I can help someone and it fits in with how I’m feeling and what I need for my mental health, great, but if not then perhaps we can schedule it for another week.

Learning what I can handle: 
Going forward, I will never schedule four speaking appearances in a single week. I love doing what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for the world but there is a point where doing too much becomes a flirtation with burnout. And burnout causes me (and I’m sure others) to resent the thing that they love in addition to exhaustion and making bad choices—all things I’d rather stay away from.

Think (more) before you act:
If I’m flirting with burnout, which I certainly have been this week, I need to avoid making big decisions. Wait and think things through before making a rash or what could be a semi-destructive choice. Let your exhaustion subside and continue to hash things out and speak to your personal advisers and friends before taking action on something important.

Smile for no reason:
Is this one pretty lame? Maybe. But this one came to me as I was writing this post. After scheduling the important pieces of what makes me mentally healthy, a good smile is a wonderful reminder to your frown that “this too shall pass,” and we always have choices whether we can see them presently or not.

I hope any or all of that was useful and it’s something you can take with you in your day or the weeks to come. And stay tuned...because refreshed-Josh is coming back and will have more fun, funny (hopefully), and useful posts very soon.

PS. the title photo is from: http://www.mooddisorderscanada.ca/page/elephant-in-the-room-campaign; a Canadian organization doing great work, that I learned a bit about while up North this week. Check' em out!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Blog Post from My Friend Calvin’s Grandmother



A Blog Post from My Friend Calvin’s Grandmother 
aka 
The woman who got put in a headlock in church


Hello there friends of Joshua

I am so very glad I finally get me a voice—a say into how I’m portrayed and a chance to done set the record straight.

In Joshua play, he call me “my friend Calvin’s grandmother,” but I am so much more than that. My name is Gladys Hightower and I a mother, sister, grandmother, child-of-God, disco enthusiast, and used to do my own one-woman show much like Joshua but mine is about the Biblical character of Rahab—look it up if you don’t know who that is if y’all ain't a bunch of heathens.

I don’t know why Joshua refer to me as “Calvin’s grandmother,” because I don’t even like Calvin very much. He a skinny lay about with his rap music who probably hide my slippers and my social security checks from me.

But anyway, to set the record straight—in his play Joshua talk about how the deacons at his church got me in a headlock and escorted me out after singing the real words to the disco hit, “Everlasting Love,” during a Sunday service. 

First of all, the headlock was more of a sleeper hold because I done passed out after they dragged me into the vestibule. And second of all I didn’t go down without a fight. I shook those banana suited deacon monsters off me on first contact but went down only after one of them fish-hooked my mouth and elbowed me in the spleen. I’m a fighter and always have been—in the streets and in the pews.

And don’t be headlocking people up if you gonna play disco music in church is all I’m saying. 

Let me tell you one last thing all you friends of Joshua—I don’t even know this man too well and I don’t know why he got me up in his play. He don’t pay me no royalty checks and he don’t even try to sing like me— but thankfully he cute with a tight butt, just like Tom Jones and Harry Belafonte, Lord have mercy. You ain’t but heard the last of me. I won’t be silenced. I’ll write to you all again soon.

Now you all be good and go and see this boy’s show when it come out. 

Grace and blessings,
Gladys

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Make Communication, Make a Team—Wise Words from an Illiterate Sushi Chef



“Make a team. Make Communication—very important,” were just about the only things Mr. Noryaki, an illiterate sushi chef I used to work with in a seafood restaurant, could say.

Despite his own communication skills or lack thereof, Mr. Noriyaki was right that honest and open communication is so important—and I’ll take it a step further and say especially through use of the written word.

If we don’t know how to express what it is we’re feeling we’ll never be able to get what it is that we want. Love will be unrequited, frustrations with bosses or unrealized political reform will go unresolved, and creativity—an absolute must for any human being wanting to live a complete life—will go untapped.

Schedule in at least one hour each week whether that’s handwriting a letter, practicing writing a blog, scribbling out a short story, or typing out a portion of your new manifesto.

Keep up with your writing schedule and watch your colleagues begin to call you expert, your partner thank you for being more present in your relationship, your creativity and problem solving skills become Jedi-esque.

“Make communication,” through writing and make your life become more complete.

--

P.S. I'm doing a portion of my one-man show The Gospel According to Josh in New York City to benefit The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Saturday, November 17th at 10:45 a.m. Tickets are free and location and registration is here: http://afspnyc.eventbrite.com/ . Feel free to come for the show and stay for the educational sessions afterward...or not. I look forward to seeing you there!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

4 Ways You Can Prevent Suicide in Your Community



After losing my father and grandfather to suicide I suffered with my own bout of depression and suicide ideation, and thankfully I was able to get help from my mother, a school counselor, and friends. And it was during my recovery that I realized I could use my one-man play, The Gospel According to Joshwhich talks a little of my father’s suicide, to help people who are clinically depressed, suffering from mental illness, or having suicidal thoughts—people who don’t know how or where they can get help or that suicide is indeed preventable.

Because suicide affects millions of Americans annually, one of the questions I always get when presenting the show is, “How do we take extra steps to prevent suicide in our community?” 

There are a great deal of different ways and I’ll list a four of them here.

1) Talk about it: Talking about suicide with the right amount of education and research is completely harmless. Asking someone if they’re thinking about suicide will not make them complete a suicide. Asking the question is simply a gauge to see how strongly someone is thinking about suicide, if they’re even thinking about it at all. By not asking and by not speaking about suicide, we create an invisible stigma that says it’s not okay to talk about and receive help for suicidal thoughts. Clearly we want to help everyone thinking of taking their life. 

2) Be a support: Offer or give your time to community events like a bake sale, a suicide awareness week, a cook-off—things that promote inclusion of everyone and the idea that your community’s members will support their own tribe. Isolation and non-inclusion can be the kiss of death for people thinking of taking their own life. Remind people that we’re all in this together and we care what happens to every person in our world—black, white, physically disabled, gay, or straight. And the gift of time you give to others is often the best gift you can give of yourself.

3) Be Aware of your Language: Language plays a huge role in how we talk about and conceptualize ideas around a variety of social issues. Words can build up and support or they can break down and add to stigma. Replace the phrase “committed suicide,” with “died by suicide.” Using the word “committed” makes the death sound like a crime when in fact it was something enacted by someone who was in terrible emotional pain who needed support to stay alive and not the feeling of guilt or shame that keeps them from getting help. 
Try not to carelessly throw out the phrase, “if ___(I fail a test, if Aunt Bessie makes another fruitcake for Christmas etc.) ___then I’ll kill myself.” You’re trivializing the serious nature of a suicide and don’t always know whose company you’re in who might be dealing with suicidal thoughts.

4) Know your local and national sources of help: Find out who your local psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists are; where they’re located; and how to contact them. Know their policies about taking insurance. Know where your local emergency room is. Memorize the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number: 1-800-273-8255. Find out if there are local suicide survivor (those who have lost a loved one to suicide) support groups in your area.

These are simply a few of things we can do as communities to ensure the safety and well being of our members. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (www.afsp.org), The American Association of Suicidology (www.suicidology.org), and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org) all have wonderful resources and further dialogue on this matter. And it goes without saying, you always have my support and I’ll help in regards to this topic or any other at any time. Thanks!



A blog post from Mr. Clarence Washington


Hello friends of Joshua

Some of you may or may not know who I am. My name is Clarence Washington and I am one of the characters Joshua has written into his one-man play, … According to Josh. I have to admit that when Joshua first approached me and asked if he could base one of his characters on me, I was a little hesitant to say yes. 

A white person playing a black man? We haven’t seen that since Bill Clinton was president. 

He also told me that my character was only going to be a minor role in the play and I’d only get one or two scenes. But let me tell you I am no second string quarterback. I’m a starter. I’ve got personality and panache. I was the best jazz flute player in Raleigh, North Carolina three years in a row when I was a young man. I almost got a chance to play with Jethro Tull till I learned they were playing for the Devil and not for Jesus. I still pray for those boys every day.   

But anyway I’m happy to help Joshua with his play. I’ve known him since he was a little boy, always running into things, wearing food all over his face, and getting into trouble. He never seemed too bright and I felt sorry for him. So I said he could put me in his play.

And he does a good job with how I’m portrayed. I’m still wearing my double breasted banana suits and patent leather shoes every Sunday for church. The only thing I’m not happy about is this thing he wrote about me looking so good on Sundays, “that some weeks I looked like the church’s pimp.” I’ve never looked like a pimp a day in my life. I don’t have a bunch of strung out white women hanging on my arm. And the only pimping anyone should be doing is for Jesus. You let everyone know that He’s your daddy and nothing’s going to change it and you make sure to get them to work for Jesus too. 

But overall I’m happy to share a little of the spotlight with Joshua and I’m glad to meet you all and I look forward to seeing you at …According to Josh sometime in the future.

With blessings,

Clarence Washington

Stay the Course and Find Your Waterfall


Recently I had the opportunity and the honor of performing and presenting The Gospel According to Josh : Suicide Prevention Program, for four hundred and fifty teens at a leadership conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

Since I’ve never been to the Hawaiian islands, I took a few extra days before and after my presentation and indulged in a much needed vacation in this tropical paradise.

Early one morning I took a thirty minute flight from the island of Oahu to the island of Kauai—made famous by the George Clooney film The Descendants and where a good portion of exterior shots were filmed in Jurassic Park. 
The first thing I made sure to do was drive from the southern tip of the island and up the western coast to view the three thousand foot deep Waimea Canyon, often called “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”

After spending a few hours exploring some of the lookout areas in the lower part of the canyon, I drove up to the top to take in some of the aerial views. I got to one of the highest points (where parking lots still existed), parked my rental car, and made my way to what I thought and hoped was the edge but was actually a man made pathway that led somewhere other than where I wanted to go. I looked back and saw a few more well-worn paths on the other side of the parking lot but this one felt strange and exotic and something like “the road less traveled.” 

As I began my hike down this path, the canopy above started to get thicker and only let in a moderate amount of sunlight. Tree roots served as natural steps and the path got steeper and started swerving in every which way. I wasn’t prepared for a proper hike in my water shoes and swimming trunks, but I’d never know the next time I’d be in Hawaii and told myself to keep going. I traveled for about thirty minutes, till I got to a fork in the road. I looked at the time on my phone which was nearly dead and saw that I had about two hours till I had to make it to the other side of the island for a Luau that I paid for in advance and didn’t want to miss. If I turned back now I’d be safe and able to get to the Luau with about thirty minutes to spare. I had to make a decision—should turn around or take a risk and continue traveling through this rainforest on the side of a four million year old canyon. 

Just as I was about to turn back, a family emerged from one of the converging paths and told me that if I continued hiking, I’d come across signs that would either lead me to a picturesque view at the edge of the canyon, the bottom of the canyon, or a waterfall. My decision was easy: go find the waterfall, because it’s not every day I’d get to see one. 

With great excitement, I hiked for another forty minutes and passed trees and species of small birds that I’d never seen before. The smells and the views were absolutely incredible and finally led me to the edge of the canyon that consisted of loose red rock. I must have taken the wrong path and didn’t have the extra time to turn around to find the waterfall because I wanted to make my reservation for the Luau. 

Before I headed back though, there were two male/female couples a closer to the ledge than I but who stopped about twenty feet short of the edge. When I got closer I saw that the actual edge was a little further down, and though pretty steep it was possible to get down there to look down into the canyon. 

I gingerly stepped down the steep incline toward the cliff’s edge, lost my footing, and started sliding and stopped only a foot short of certain death. As I regained my composure, I looked to my left and saw a little manmade staircase made of pieces of railroad ties. I took that staircase down the side of the canyon and curved my way down a little further until I ended up at the fifty foot waterfall I had been searching for. 

I made my way through some big rock formations and a small stream and put my shirt and phone off to the side on a rock and jumped into a natural pool of water about four feet deep and swam to where the waterfall was spitting into the pool of water and let it splash onto my head and chest. I then swam to the side of the pool where there blackberries growing off of a rock formation and picked some for myself, ate them, and swam around as the chilly water eased my sunburn and helped cool me off after a long hike on a hot day.

And that my friends is one of the reasons why after almost three years, I’m still doing The Gospel According to Josh—but not for the Hawaiian waterfalls. I started on a journey and at various points I’ve hit obstacles, ran into forks in the road that could’ve taken me anywhere, cut myself walking through heavy brush, and at times have nearly slid down the side of a three thousand foot canyon. But I stayed the course and have since discovered numerous waterfalls. I’ve learned so much about myself, and life, and business throughout this three year process. I’ve traveled to new places across the country and performed for conservative Jewish, evangelical Christian, teenage, preteen, and Historically Black College audiences. I’ve been able to make my living as a practitioner of the arts as a working actor, playwright, and producer. I’ve hugged people who are still healing from their loved one’s suicide and made lifelong friends in Ohio, Hawaii, and Colorado. And I’m in the process of editing a memoir that I’ve written based on the show and the show will be opening Off-Broadway in September of 2013. 

All of this would never have happened if I’d listened to the voices along the way—real or in my head—that I was crazy because the trail ahead was scary or dangerous or an unsure thing. 

Keep traveling along your path. There’s no guarantee that you’ll find what you’re looking for but the real fun (and the test) is allowing yourself to take in all the sights, sounds, and smells around you while you’re on your journey—mine were/are new friends, realized dreams, and self discovery. What’s yours?