On the eighteenth evening the moon told the artist that he had shone down on the theater once more. There he saw an actor made up beautifully in his painted face. The actor loved the theater, but the theater did not love him. Try as he might he was not a good actor. He got booed off stage.
He went home that lonely night and the moon followed him. The man thought of poison and he thought of hanging himself. He was so sad that he cried. When a man cries for a long while as he thinks about suicide he doesn’t go through with it.
The man went back to acting and for a while he was happy even though he got hissed at and booed at. One day, he did decide to do it. He killed himself. The only person present over his body was the hearse driver. Not one other person came. The moon followed though. The actor was buried hastily in a corner of the graveyard where the sexton would throw thorns and nettles from other graves upon it.
That was the eighteenth evening.
Hans is overly obsessed with death. I have to wonder if he often thought of suicide. I’m not very far into his collection of fairy tales and suicide has already been mentioned quite a few times. Hans seems to have looked death in the face. From reading these tales I have to assume that Hans had been depressed and he had thought of doing himself in. There’s just too much emotion in these stories for me to have any other conclusion.
I’ve mentioned this before but it used to be that if you committed suicide you were buried outside of the churchyard. Your grave was not kept. It may not have been labeled. To all those concerned you were dead. You were bound for Hell because you killed yourself. You had no right to the churchyard and no one was going to mourn you.
This is so sad because people can’t help being depressed. People especially couldn’t help being depressed in the days before therapists and antidepressants. I can’t imagine someone living their entire life, then killing themselves, only not to be recognized at all in death. It doesn’t matter how the life ended; it matters that it ended and the people who remain need to recognize that there had been a life and the person who had owned it accomplished things and had people he or she cared about. We hang ourselves up on silly things sometimes and we don’t give people the respect they deserve because of some silly cultural or religious thing.
Although death is quite prominent in this story, I want to talk about passions and talents. This actor loved acting. It was his life. He loved the stage. He loved dressing up. He loved rehearsing. He probably loved every single thing about being an actor. There was a problem though; he wasn’t good at it. A person can make it as a mediocre actor, but you must have more going for you. You have to have a nice body or lots of money or something else. If you’re not a great actor and you have nothing else going for you, you’re not going to make it as an actor.
Most of the actors and actresses you admire do something else besides act. They model. They paint. They play music. They race cars. They do whatever. They’re not just actors. There are a few of them who can be just actors because they’re that good, but let’s face it, there aren’t very many people who are that good. You’ve got to have some other allure factor if you’re not simply amazing.
This guy didn’t have that. He apparently didn’t even have any friends. It was just him and his desire to act. While you have to applaud his enthusiasm, it was misplaced. He just didn’t have what it took and this mad him sad, very sad, sad enough to kill himself. This had probably been the one thing he was holding onto, but once he realized he didn’t actually have it, he wanted to die.
Let this be a lesson to you, you always have to have something else. There has to be a backup plan. You can plan on being a rock star, but if that doesn’t turn out, how about a nurse? You must have more than one passion in your life. I don’t care who you are or what you do, there has to be more than one thing in your life. That’s why I’m not just an artist or just a writer. I do more. Everyone should. You cannot depend too much upon one thing. There always has to be something else.
I say this not only as a means to keep yourself from living under a bridge because you don’t have any money, but also as a means to keep yourself sane. If you lose that one passion, you will die inside. You must have another passion to fall back upon.
What a sad story.
If you have ever been depressed, do you find this actor’s story familiar?
What’s the backup plan?