Life isn’t a destination. There’s nowhere to get to.
Once you get married or book your TV show or win your award or buy your house or any of the number of things you desire as the end goal, you’ll discover that once you have them, your life is still the same.
Sure, the external, material trappings have changed (you’ve got more money, are finally famous, have the nice car, moved to a better zip code), but the core essence of who you are is carried with you. Things don’t change who you are.
What does transform us is coming up against our edge (as the inspirational Buddhist monk, Pema Chödrön calls it), meeting it, and pushing through. The pushing through to the other side of what scares us or what makes us want to recoil, or what we have judgments about, is really what forges a new you.
And life is a constant calling towards the edge. It never ends. Ever. You may star in a movie, you may finally get that agent, but life will continue to confront you with your edge. This is because it’s a path, a process – not a finish line.
Meet your edge. Push through it. Get to the other side. Another will reveal itself. But as you become more courageous in your ability to not be defined or defeated by your challenges, you’ll see that it gets easier and easier. More fun. Less dramatic. And ultimately more rewarding.
Getting the “stuff” is great. But getting our stuff and having pushed through our edge to get there is even greater.
“Thankfully, perseverance is a good substitute for talent.” — Steve Martin
Why do we wait? For what? We wait for the better airfare, or for the date we went out with last week to call, or for permission. We wait until we lose 10 pounds, or until we get our haircut or until we’re “more prepared.” We wait to get new headshots or write that novel or ask that person out on a date. We end up wasting so much time “waiting” for the right moment, that eventually the things we were “waiting” to do – slowly disappear from our lives. We end up not doing them at all. They become long-lost dreams that for some reason, we seem to be okay with not having anymore.
So when is the right moment?
Stop waiting for things to get better or easier or less busy. Stop saying that you need to wait to be better prepared or more secure or more sure of yourself. Stop waiting for the girlfriend or the husband or the agent or the manager. Stop waiting for the right look or the right age or the right resume or the right time.
Stop waiting for someone or some thing to give you permission to be all that you already are.
Stop putting your life on hold, thinking you’re still missing something in order for you to do the things you want to be doing. You can do them now.
Homework: What have you been postponing? Putting off? Delaying? This week, go do the thing you’ve been waiting for “the right time” to do. Take the trip. Write your screenplay. Enroll in a class. Go to the gym. Ask for help. The time is now. It always will be.
“Life is being on the wire. Everything else is just waiting.” — Karl Wallenda
That really says it all. In life and in our acting — the goal is to be fully expressed. We rarely allow ourselves to do this on a moment-to-moment basis because we become prisoners of our own minds criticizing us, judging us, telling us what is appropriate and keeping us playing safe. So we end up making choices that are bland. Forgettable. Protected. Obvious. Common.
There’s nothing memorable about being safe. Life is not only inherently risky but it also evokes risk within us. It makes us want to take leaps. It makes us want to step into the unknown. It makes us want to throw caution to the wind.
But if you listen to the left-brain’s logic of why you shouldn’t do something or why something isn’t a good idea or all the “bad” things that might happen if you decide to take the risk, you end up doing nothing.
Start being okay with making huge blunders. Failing big. Falling flat on your face. Getting uncomfortable. The more you do this, the more the creative world will open up to you and you’ll begin stepping into new domains of possibility that previously weren’t available to you.
Homework: Let your choices be hugely creative or dramatically terrible. Just don’t let them be boring. I’m not asking you to do something crazy just to be crazy and get someone to notice you. What I’m talking about here is making authentic, bold, daring choices that are true to the moment and that you normally repress or shy away from because you let fear keep you from taking those risks.
We expend so much energy trying to look good, maintain control, focus on the end results, micro-manage and worry about things that are insignificant, that we lose the ability to be fully expressed, liberated and free in the moment.
You’ve got to stop caring how you think other people think of you. The truth is – they’re not thinking of you – because they’re thinking of themselves. Like all of us.
When I say, “care less,” I’m not asking you to stop caring about things that matter. I’m talking about giving up worrying about things that have to do with the ego: how you look, how you’re perceived, trying to maintain appearances, trying to show you have it all together.
Have you ever noticed that when you audition for something you don’t give a rat’s ass about, you end up booking? Why is this? At a practical level you simply free yourself up in the moment and express yourself without judgment and concern for the end results. You don’t care how you look and consequently the energy that normally gets diffused when we are so concerned with the outcome, ends up instead being used properly. That is, creatively.
From a scientific/universal standpoint, it also is a declaration of alignment. In other words, you were totally in the moment of full creative expression. You weren’t second-guessing and stopping yourself from being expressed and you let go of the end results. Normally, we end up leaving an audition and immediately question every choice we made, desperately clinging to the need of wanting the job, beating ourselves up for what we didn’t do. All of these things are an implicit declaration to the universe stating “I don’t really believe I can have that.” And so we don’t.
Homework: Watch the video and then see how you can give up the need this week of having to fulfill an expectation of how you think something should look.
“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you love? How deeply did you learn to let go?” — The Buddha