Breaking Free and Dreaming Without The Influence of Obesity
It feels so wonderful to start the day like I started this morning. I received an e-mail from a reader that is experiencing some breakthrough success. In her words, I noticed the same amazing feeling that has engulfed me throughout this journey. It's a feeling of freedom. It's a feeling of clarity. It's a feeling of hope. It's a feeling that comes from every obstacle we imagined was in our way...being completely gone. All of a sudden what once seemed impossible, is unfolding before us. Like all the pieces to the puzzle are magically fitting into place. The hopeless feelings are gone. The dreams are back. And there's such a dramatic difference between dreaming something that seems impossible and dreaming something that all of a sudden is completely possible. That reader who sent the e-mail this morning, she's on her way to realizing dreams she once thought impossible. She's going to make it. She knows too much to ever be able to deny her success. And her story and success will inspire and enlighten many more.
When I think about how my dreams have evolved over the years, I think about how I use to make my dreams revolve around me being morbidly obese. I couldn't really imagine losing the weight, so if I was still going to dream, it had to be as a morbidly obese person. I pursued my comedy dreams as a morbidly obese funny guy, and surprisingly found a certain level of professional acceptance. But I wasn't comfortable being that guy. I didn't want to be the funny fat guy. Most of my material was self-deprecating. I remember several shows where an overweight person would come up to me and ask me to stop being so mean to myself. But I was hooked by the laughter of 399 others in the room that night. It was acceptance. It was a feeling of being loved despite my appearance, and actually loved because of it! I was addicted. It was a powerful thing. When I started, I would drive four and a half hours to Dallas for five minutes of unpaid stage time. I drove to Tulsa and Oklahoma City twice a week for unpaid stage time. I wanted the rush of making those people laugh. I didn't care if I wasn't getting paid...I was paying my dues, even if it was at the expense of my family. If we could barely afford groceries that week, I would still take the money to get me to that next comedy show. I craved that love from audiences while ignoring the love from my family. When I started getting paid to perform, it was never enough to justify the extreme cost. But I was always dreaming of that big break on the horizon. That's what would save everything. When I “made it” to Hollywood and was asked to be a host comic at the Hollywood Improv, you would think that would have been the big time. It wasn't. I was sharing the stage with big name comics, I felt real important, but you see, The Hollywood Improv is a showcase club. When you're on that stage, anything can happen. It's like you owe them for allowing you to perform there. As a host comic I was paid $35.00 per show. It was a showcase club, I was lucky to get that. It does pay off for some. But usually for the ones who are truly comfortable with who they are as a person and a comic. BJ Novak was a relatively unknown comic at the Improv around the same time as me, eventually the executive producer of a new NBC show caught his act there and offered him a part on a show. That show was “The Office.” BJ was very comfortable, very natural, and himself on stage. I was forcing myself to be something I really didn't want to be. I was addicted to being mean to myself, being a bully to myself, for the sake of laughs and acceptance. The breakthrough for me in realizing this unhealthy addiction came while filming a segment for Jimmy Kimmel Live. The following is an excerpt from Day 18 of this blog: The bit was produced about an hour before the “live” broadcast, and it wasn't long into the shoot when the director told me that Jimmy wanted me to really put on some womens undergarments so they could photograph it and then make it look like an x-ray image during the bit. This was never mentioned beforehand, and despite the fact that I was so excited to get to hang out and be a part of this show, I told them flat out NO! I said “If that's what I have to do here than I'll just leave now”. The director and segment producer left to consult with Jimmy somewhere backstage, and after what seemed like 10 minutes, they came back and told me that they would use one of their overweight production assistants as a stand-in. I would still be in the bit, but this poor guy would have to be the one they take the fake x-ray picture of in panties and a bra. He was happy to do it, and I was happy to still be in the bit. But I certainly realized that I wasn't one bit comfortable as the “big fat guy”. I didn't want to be that guy. I never have wanted to be that guy. After that initial appearance they called me several times to do other “let's laugh at the fat guy” type bits. One was a take off of the TV show “The Bachelor” called “The Fatchelor”...and I wasn't in town to do it. I'm glad I wasn't. They ended up using that same overweight production assistant...and I bet he was thrilled! I want to be that slim, neat looking, in shape, well dressed guy. That's what I dream of being, even if Jimmy Kimmel doesn't think it's as funny! I wasn't in town to do anything else for the Kimmel show, because I packed up and headed back home just a few days after that appearance. I was done trying to make myself feel accepted and loved as the fat guy. My addiction to that rush was over. I had my family's love waiting back in Oklahoma. It was there the entire time. My days of making my obesity a part of my dreams ended on that hot June day in 2003. When the clarity of this journey started coming about, all of a sudden I started dreaming as a thin and healthy individual. It's so much better. I don't have to be anything I don't want to be ever again. I can be my true self once and for all.
I grilled some wonderful pork chops tonight. The dinner was exceptional and for desert? A 60 calorie Popsicle brand fudge bar. It was very nice. We're heading out to complete another 5K tonight. I hope to increase the distance I actually jog out there. I really think I can take it further. I know I can. Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...