Remember when we were kids, when our capacity to dream knew no limits, and dreams were the only thing that fueled our whimsical spirits? I was going to be an astronaut, an explorer, a doctor, an animal behaviorist, a rock star and at one time, a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
Back then the only limit was my own imagination, but the older I get the more my dreams seem anchored by the weight of reality, and so many of the things I wanted as a kid just don’t seem to make sense anymore.
When was the last time you took inventory of your own dreams? There’s nothing like a new year to find new inspiration. If you could do absolutely anything with your life, what would it be? What would you do? Dream big!
Would you go to medical school? Move to Alaska? Climb a mountain? Marry Harry, the Prince of Wales? Become the next Lady Gaga?
These days there are really two big ones for me: I want to finish and sell the book I’ve been writing for years and I want to learn kung fu.
I’ve wanted to learn the ancient Chinese martial art ever since I was a kid and it seems like it would be the most awesome, fun thing ever. I desire the discipline, mental focus, and peace of mind associated with kung fu, and I want to cultivate the skill and physical conditioning necessary to destroy the average suburban opponent in hand to hand combat.
My dreams are big, but they don’t require me to risk my life or even give up my day job. More than anything they simply require me to stop talking and start doing. For many years there has been one thing holding me back from both of these major life goals: fear.
What if I write the book and it’s just not any good? What if everyone says it’s awful? What if I join a kung fu class and I can’t keep up? What if I faint or puke or die? Oh my god, what if I try to do something amazing AND I FAIL?
As for the kung fu, I finally took a deep breath one day and dove in head first. It’s been almost six months now since I enrolled at the Shaolin Institute in Mobile, and I’ve been training hard two or three days a week since I started. I decided to give it a full year before I make an assessment, but so far I can tell you it’s already been one of the most profoundly rewarding experiences of my life.
As for the book, well, I’m still making excuses for why I can’t finish, and I can never seem to shake that nagging fear it will never be good enough. As Mobilian Nathan Smith would probably tell me, when it comes to dreams, sometimes you have to drop the insecurities and just jump in and make things happen.
I first introduced you to Nathan in this column back in 2013, when I mentioned the comic book he illustrated and co-created with his partner writer Kevin LaPorte and colorist Gavin Michelli. The local team released the first issue of their four-part series, “Last Ride for Horsemen,” in 2013 and the second issue is expected to be out soon.
At 42, Nathan is a man of many talents. After attending B.C. Rain High School in Mobile, he earned a degree in graphic design and gained experience working in website design while leaving plenty of time for his comic work and other art. He especially enjoys creating fan art, where he draws customized characters on commission at comic book conventions and other events, as well as by request. Especially fun are his “Super-U” creations, where he uses a person’s picture to recreate them as a superhero.
Nathan has had plenty to keep him busy the past few years, but he’s been getting the most attention lately for his acting, an old dream reawakened by an unexpected opportunity here in Mobile. He has worked in local theater and small independent films throughout the years, but it wasn’t until the locally filmed movie “Rage” (aka “Tokarev”) came to town that he realized he’d found his dream.
After checking out his rather impressive physique and learning of his martial arts and firearm training, Nathan was able to score the small part of a Russian thug. He appears in several scenes of the movie before being shot by Nicolas Cage.
Shortly after, Nathan went on to have small parts in “Convergence,” filmed at the old Knollwood hospital, “The Prince,” where he was shot by Jason Patrick, and “Vice,” where he played Bruce Willis’ security guard.
Perhaps most exciting was his recent gig on the amazing “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” where he scored a small part as a carnie and made brief appearances in the majority of the season’s episodes. For big fans like me it’s been a blast following along and playing “Spot the Nathan.”
Aside from making his hometown proud with his talent, professionalism and amazing charisma on and off the set, Nathan had the time of his life working on the wildly popular TV series. By now he knows for sure he has to take this acting thing as far as it can go, giving it everything he’s got and learning anything he can. The sky is the limit for a bright talent and genuinely terrific person like Nathan, and it’s only a matter of time before he lands his next big role.
To make it through those rough patches in between, Nathan has turned to crowd funding site Patreon, which allows patrons to support a member’s creative projects with a monthly contribution. If you’re interested in supporting a local talent with the guts to dream big, visit Nathan’s page at https://www.patreon.com/nathanosmith?ty=a.
In the meantime, stay tuned and keep your eye on this handsome kid. He’s going somewhere big.