If you told me at this time last year that I would be on TV every week this fall, beamed into 95 million homes in the U.S., and then doing a stint in community theatre for Whistler’s annual Christmas play, I would have scoffed at you.
What a difference a year makes… as well as an open mind and a fearless approach.
And so it was that I found myself agreeing to be part of the annual Chairlift Revue the week before Christmas, to two sold-out performances, starring as none other than myself.
I couldn’t help but worry about what I had gotten myself into.
I run bars in Whistler; I bring big events to town; I’m in the spirits and beer business; I’ve always been a behind-the-scenes kind of guy.
How, then, did I end up on stage in Whistler for a live theatre performance?
Don’t think I didn’t ask myself that a few times.
It was called ‘Dave Brownlie’s Day Off,’ a take off on Ferris Bueller’s infamous sick day from school, this time with the CEO and president of Whistler Blackcomb in the title role.
The annual revue is a series of short skits that take place on the chairlift, all telling the inside story of Whistler, complete with its very “active” rumour mill.
I was encouraged to take on the role and, given that I was playing myself, it wasn’t as though I had to channel my inner Macbeth. Nonetheless, I was way out of my comfort zone.
Then I remembered something my dad once told me: As you go through life, you’ll find yourself in situations that are scary, when your body is tingling head to toe with nerves and you’re hyper-aware of your own fear. That’s the feeling, he said, of being truly alive.
I’ve felt it before. When I was 11 years old I skied the Waterfall under the Peak Chair on Whistler Mountain and I felt then. (If you’ve seen the Waterfall, you’ll know why). When I ski raced throughout Europe later on in my teens, I felt it then.
It’s not the same rush you get when you’re putting multi-million dollar deals together. That’s all controlled, all expected.
This is much more intense — stepping out onto that stage, you’re putting yourself at the mercy of a potentially merciless audience.
I was determined to nail it no matter how small my part, no matter that I had just five or six lines. And so, I worked hard.
I practised with my kids; I practised with my wife; I practised alone, going over it and over it and over it until I had it down pat. No matter how many second thoughts I was having, I was going to do a good job.
But nothing can really prepare you for what’s in store before your stage debut, not even my recurring role in Après Ski on NBC this fall, which featured our start-up company Gibbons Life.
Backstage there was an energy and camaraderie that was electric, like we were all in the trenches together, all bundled nerves and fear and excitement, all part of something bigger than just ourselves. And, of course, there was the rush that came after it was all over, after knowing I had given it my best shot, the palpable relief after trying something that really scared me and coming out on the other side — like landing the Waterfall and making it to the end of those ski races.
After the high of the performances, there was a very real low the next day. I see now why people love doing this.
That’s not to say I’m going to quit my day job.
But the thrill of personally challenging myself, getting out of my comfort zone, not knowing which way the cards are going to fall, that’s a feeling that doesn’t get old.
You never know what other doors may open as you step out onto that ledge.
That’s something to think about as we all prepare for another New Year and what may lie in store for 2016.
See you on the edge of something new!
*Feature Photo: Courtney Hoskin Photography