Man is only truly great when he acts from his passions. (Benjamin Disraeli)
There’s been a lot going on in my world of recent, and there will be in the future. I took another moment to mourn the loss of my childhood best friend, who died 12 years ago this past Saturday, on the same day I went to my first IndyCar race. In two weeks, I’ll start working on the live shows for Season 5 of The Voice, and the next day I have to go back to my surgeon for my next evaluation to see if I’m still doing okay. But right now, tonight, I want to talk about something awesome that happened – actually several somethings – and what I’ve learned from it all.
As you’ve seen, I’ve been thrilled to partner with Spike on the amazing new series Criss Angel BeLIEve. Although I’ve only been working on the show about a month, it’s already one of my favorite gigs that I’ve ever worked on over my thirteen-year career, because of how Criss, his team and the network have welcomed me into the fold. The amount of support and respect I’ve received from them is pretty much unprecedented. Especially when you’re someone like me, who isn’t a big name and doesn’t work for one either, for people of this stature to basically treat you as their own is priceless.
Which brings me to tonight. I happened to be in Las Vegas this week, so I made a point of coming back to see Criss’s live show for a second time, because it’s really one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced, and because considering how welcoming he was the first time, I thought it was appropriate to at least say hello when I was back in town. Not only did Team Angel take care of my ticket (I may or may not have been sitting in his mother’s seat, too), but Criss name-checked me during the show twice, and then made a point of introducing me to the entire audience with some very complimentary words about my words about his show. I’m pretty sure the stupefied look on my face was hilarious.
Now that stuff is all awesome, and I’m certainly not going to forget any of it anytime soon. It falls under the category of “perks of the job,” like being able to ride shotgun in a Global Rallycross racer, or getting my first VIP concert tickets to Maroon 5 two years ago. There are definitely payoffs to what I do.
However, that’s not the stuff that matters most, and it’s not why I do my job. What I do my job for are the moments like after the show, when Criss and I were just sitting backstage, talking not even about the TV show but about our mutual outlook on life, and what’s ahead for both of us. Those are the things I cherish, when I realize the company that I get to keep, and when I can relate to and learn from these amazing people.
In just the short period of time I’ve known him, Criss has become one of my favorite people, because there’s a lot that I admire about him. He works at his craft constantly, and he’s had that work ethic for his entire life. Every iota of his great success is deserved, because for every piece of it there’s years of hard work and passion behind it. He’s always pushing the envelope, never settling, and more people need to do that. I love his positive attitude, where he’d rather inspire and help others than tear them down. And I appreciate, personally, that after an exhausting day of two shows and heaven knows what else, he’s taking the time to sit backstage with me and ask how I’m doing. That’s real heart, and real character. Being around Criss, in just the two times we’ve spent together, has made me a better person because of the caliber of person he is.
I’ve had the honor and the privilege of being surrounded by several people that I consider to be the best at what they do. Aside from Criss, I can say I’m friends with Tanner Foust, who’s the best racing driver I’ve ever seen; Adam Ferrara, the most hilarious comedian I’ve ever watched; Adam Levine, the lead singer of my favorite band; and Michael Trucco, who I consider one of the best actors of his generation. I’ve been inspired by their work, and I’ve learned from each of them as people – not just about what they do, but how they carry themselves, what they’re passionate about, and how they look at the world. Their time and encouragement and compassion for me has brought out the best in me. If I’m successful now (and I suppose being name-checked by the best magician in the world counts), it’s because I’ve been blessed to be supported by the right people. They might not be the most famous, or the most popular, but they’re exactly the people I want to call my friends for the rest of my life.
Criss and I were talking tonight about changing attitudes in society, and I said something to him that I hadn’t even really thought on much myself until the words left my mouth. I told him that for the first time in my life, I have a peace within myself and with what I’m doing that is what gets me through the day. And that’s honestly because of the company I keep. I get up in the morning and I love the person I see in the mirror, because I realize that my hard work and my passion has made me an equal to people that I admire. And those people in turn love me for who I am. I don’t need to try and be anything, or cover up my disability, or worry about how I look. They look me in the eye, and that’s given me faith in myself that then allows me to go out and hopefully help other people every time I start another article.
So what have I learned from all this? I’ve learned that if you work hard, and you truly love that which you’re working on, and you’re honest with yourself, amazing things can happen. Things that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Things like what happened tonight. No matter what happens next, I’m already way ahead in the game.