"Some of us are so inspired to enjoy the process that we use it to actually create whole new realities and then invite others to cross over with us."
Are we born with natural talent? Could some have more potential to excel in certain areas due to genetics than others? What if you are not raised by your biological parents and are never aware of what talents may be lying in wait to be awoken? Being born into a family with generations of great athletes, musicians, or writers may help to stack the genetic deck, but what if the desire to follow in your family’s talented footsteps does not resonate inside you? Does the drive or hunger to be a great athlete or to create art always come from within? Are we predisposed to go down a specific path, or could a mere coincidence of being in a certain place at a certain time in a particular mood and hearing a song, seeing a painting, or having a conversation with a stranger strike one with such monumental inspiration to guide them down a new path—a path that may have never been uncovered if they decided to do something different that morning or simply got stuck at a red light long enough to shift the course of the day?
And how much does any of it matter if the will to put in the time and effort needed to meet one’s conception of personal success does not match the inspiration that began the journey? One theory is that it takes ten-thousand hours of practice to become an expert at something. For some, the ten-thousand hours of practice doing what they love is where they find all the gratification needed to have happiness and success in life.
Raised in a large family where no two personalities were the same, Michael Taylor drew his own inspiration from each of them. Whether it was to stand out among his other family members or just to emulate everyday interactions, Michael found enjoyment and success at a young age by tuning in to whatever was happening around him and enhancing the synergy through writing and performing plays, short skits, and even his own songs on the front porch of the family home. Although he believes his work was understandably a bit juvenile and callow at that time, it brought smiles to his family and friends lucky enough to witness those early performances. Underdeveloped as those early works may have been, they had staying power because his family still remembers and sings them today. Even if they do it to poke a little fun at how humorously rough those early front porch songs were, the songs still made their mark and entertained as intended.
Whether the knack to perform was in his blood or the enjoyment and fulfillment he would realize at such a young age of being able to make people smile and entertain them with his creativity was too strong of a sensation to want to do much else, his life has been immersed in performance art. But being gifted as a performer was not his only talent; he was also blessed with natural athletic ability and excelled in football and baseball throughout his junior and high school days and into college. Michael continued to write and perform throughout his adolescence before finding his way to Ball State University majoring in Theatrical Studies and minoring in Telecommunications. It was during this time while giving his all to excel in both sports and the performing arts that Michael realized that it would be too demanding to keep up with both and caused him to ponder the future and choose the path meant for him. He could have continued to do both and would have likely excelled on the field as well as the stage by making sacrifices to both, but he has never believed in giving less than everything he has to give. He knew, for him, it had to be one or the other.
Given today’s current landscape of professional sports and the emphasis and spotlight cast on athletes, most college kids facing a decision between performing arts or the possibility of fame and fortune from a pro contract would make the opposite choice that Michael made. Maybe the decision was prompted from those memories of his first performances on the family porch that made such an impact or during his budding theatre days working on scenes and learning the key to making them work was to fully commit and go all in, but creating and performing was too overwhelmingly satisfying to choose to do anything else.
So, the decision was made. Michael went all in and refused to let any opportunity pass him by,
whether it was to act in stage shows, design or direct a play, or act in every short film that would cast him. If an opportunity was not presenting itself, waiting for one was never an option; he would dig into his bag of creativity and create one himself—he wrote several of the plays in which he performed. While loving to see and hear an audience’s gratitude and cheers while on stage, he remains humble off stage and rarely boasts about personal accomplishments, so those who know him may not know he won Best Director of a Short Film his senior year as well as Best Screenplay his Junior and Senior years. According to Michael, “A resume is just words on a page. Give me a chance and I will show you who I am and what I can do.”
Today his life is engulfed more than ever in performance art. Michael teaches theatre and film
production at Frankfort High School and is the Director of the Red Barn Summer Theatre in Frankfort, Indiana. A family man as well, he is happily married to his lovely wife, Maggie, who is his biggest supporter and, lucky for him, is incredibly understanding of the demand this artform can have on family life. Finding ways to fund new projects is always a challenge and keeping track of every dollar of a new production is a meticulous necessity. But it is the sacrifices that sometimes must be made at times with the family that are the biggest challenges he now faces in this life of creativity he has chosen. Getting up each day and being able to do what he loves most as a living is a benefit that outweighs any challenges, riches, or fame. Each day brings new opportunities of inspiration to foster new creations and more ways to entertain which he plans on doing until his final day above ground. On the day of his funeral and every day beyond he hopes his friends and family will continue to smile
and only share fun stories and memories and continue to laugh at all the dumb things he did and will do up until that final day of rest. “The world never stops, and neither do I.”