How Christopher Walken Saved Me
(An Open Letter To Mr. Walken)
Dear Mr. Walken,
How are you, sir? How's work? How's your wife? How's your hair? All perfect I'd imagine.
So let me get straight to it...Thank you. Yes, I said thank you. You've changed my life. "Changed...your life? I've never met you!" Good point, Christopher. May I call you Christopher? Even though we've never met, you've actually done a lot for me.
I'll start at the beginning. I've suffered with anxiety ever since I was a little boy. It wasn't until I was an adult that I recognized how waking up in the middle of the night with "the shakes" and my heart racing, was actually me having a panic attack. Not because I ate cereal too close to bed (like my mom would tell me. Though that made sense at the time...). This kind of anxiety (which was always triggered by irrational fears) followed me all the way into adulthood. It would sometimes become crippling in my everyday life.
Here’s where you come in. Ten years ago I began writing a play called, Walken on Sunshine. Here's the premise, or elevator pitch (if you lived on the 10th floor...I've timed it):
"Walken On Sunshine is a fast-paced comedy (think the humor of The Muppets meets Mel Brooks) about an anxiety-ridden filmmaker named Gavin who accidentally lies to investors about having Christopher Walken in his film. Gavin and his filmmaking team find themselves in ridiculous situations as they search for Walken! But beneath the over the top comedy, the heart of the show shines as Gavin learns that maybe finding Christopher Walken is not as important as finding the "Walken" that's inside him."
I wouldn’t have imagined it when I first started writing, but this play became my opus, and simultaneously turned into a "thank you card" for you. See, Gavin is basically me. And here's where it comes together…
Writing this play has taught me how to cope with my anxiety. As I developed the story, and Gavin’s character arc, it became clear to me that I needed to follow his same arc in order to defeat my anxiety. I needed to find MY inner Walken. And I did. I learned that finding the real Christopher Walken (metaphor for things you think you need) is not as important as finding the "Walken" inside you (metaphor for... well, you get it). It taught me how to step back and breathe. Breathe through attacks. Breathe through life. Enjoy what I have, not what I think I need. It’s such a simple concept that easily becomes muted by the white noise of life. And I can now teach my son the same thing, so he won’t suffer through “the shakes” like I did. So I want to thank you for inadvertently helping me, which also inspired the concept of my show.
This open letter is pretty meta, huh??!?
So here's the thing, Chris. May I call you, Chris? My play was accepted into FringeNYC and is playing for five dates in August! (Woot woot!) And I would be honored to have you attend my 90-minute comedy, which is really a thank you gift. I can TOTALLY hook you up with a ticket or two! Hell, however many you want! I mean you're Christopher Walken! You're the inspiration for an entire theatrical experience that is about finding your true self. Who else has that kind of power??? (Shut up, Hamilton, you're ruining my pitch!)
Now I know this is a small window of time. So, if you can't make the dates, somehow I will figure out a way to do a one evening performance just for you. I mean, you can bring someone if you want. Or a couple hundred. Up to you. But I will find a way!
Honestly, though, Mr. Walken... you’ve made an impact on my life in a way that I would have never imagined when I first started writing Walken On Sunshine. It would mean the world to me to have you come and see all the heart and comedic sweat (sweat is hilarious!) that has been put into this play in your honor. Just have your people call my people. (Do people really say that??).
Thank you for your consideration, Mr. Walken. But most of all thank you for your help.