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- The Most Important Thing To Remember About Casting
- The #1 Thing You Need To Do To Not Be A Cell-Phone Addicted Zombie In Life!
- What If You Tried Doing This 1 Thing To Change Your Life For The Better?
- If You Don’t Start Doing This More . . . You’re In Big Trouble.
Tag Archives: ” art
What is it that we’re after, really?
A house in the Hamptons? A perfect boyfriend? A TV series? Fame?
Or might it be the corresponding feelings we think (and are incorrectly taught) that we’ll experience once we get those things that make us desire them so much?
Once I get that fill-in-the-blank I’ll finally be happy.
Let’s be clear on one thing, there’s nothing wrong with desires. We live in a world that is essentially created through desire. The universe itself at an atomic and cellular level had an inherent desire to expand and materialize into form billions of years ago. Desire is an extension of will which itself could be understood as consciousness or intelligence that promotes and sustains life.
Without it, we probably wouldn’t be here on this planet. And possibly there would be no planet.
But with the advent of material things and a material-based culture, we’ve lost connection with the knowledge that joy (or love or fulfillment or compassion or hope) is born from the inner. And we are here to simply experience the physical embodiment of the energy equivalent of joy (or love or fulfillment or compassion or hope) with the world. But we mistake that our happiness is derived from things.
It’s a state of being. It doesn’t lie in a thing. It’s already part of our inherent spirit (and genetic make-up). We all have access to it. Not through titles or jobs or awards but through self-expression. And often, because we’re so affected by outward appearances – and make our happiness dependent upon them – it’s also about a choice.
We can choose to be happy.
When I was 8 or 9, I wanted this Fisher-Price farm set with every possible attachment, accessory and animal that came with it. One Christmas, I got what I wanted. I loved it. I played with it for hours. But eventually, I got bored. It wasn’t enough to have every animal Fisher-Price made for that farm – I mean, how many cows could I have? I found myself starting to add dinosaurs to my set (to eat the cows). And my Star Wars figures. And my brother’s G.I. Joe and my sister’s Barbies. (Whose glamour never bored me, but that’s another story!)
Eventually, the entire farm set sat in the corner of my room, collecting dust. Then it became part of our garage sale. We get used to things. We get bored. Science calls it “hedonic adaptation” which suggests we have a “happiness set point” that is encoded in our genes. Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky recently stated in the NY Times that our happiness set point rises when something good happens and then falls if something bad happens but eventually will return to its normal set point.
But perhaps an element that isn’t being taught because it’s not understood is that our set point can be raised if we became a little more conscious of the actual feeling that is derived while in the process of creating. Because that’s the real reason we’re doing anything, whether we’re aware of it or not, in the first place.
Mythologist, Joseph Campbell said “We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.”
The inner wants to be filled by the inner. Not the outer.
Have fun with the outer. Experience the outer. Celebrate the outer victories. But don’t let them replace where it all originates from anyways.
How do we move past our “Blurred Lines”?
You know, the stuff that often makes us unable to see our emotional situations clearly.
Well it won’t be by staying at the level from which confusion or blurriness is created.
If you want peace, equanimity, clarity and access to wide-open spaces in your mind, you have to cut through the clutter, the white noise, the mental static and step into the empty space that actually originates thought.
That can be a tad tricky (and mind-bending) but if you think of consciousness or pure mind as having non-locality and from which everything is created, it gives you an understanding that there is a space or a gap or a repose of silence between the thousands of thoughts we think. We all have access to it but often don’t realize it’s even there.
Think of your left brain like a system of circuitry that is constantly being lit up by “calls” to the main switchboard. These “calls” are generally our self-dialogues that are caused by conflict, negative self-talk, judgments, self-criticism, fear, and feedback loops we get stuck in.
When our switchboard gets inundated with emotional data, we short-circuit.
Which is simply, we lose our shit.
We get triggered emotionally and our corresponding behavior might be to scream or get defensive or hyper-reactive or shut down or get into a fist-fight or bail or down a whole bottle of tequila in 30 seconds flat.
But if we can learn to step outside of the emotionality of the event and see how our circuitry is often set on a “default” mode (i.e., react!), we can then learn to become more objective about our circumstances and not get triggered so easily.
We move from unconsciousness to awareness. From autopilot to making choices. From being asleep to wakefulness.
It’s simple, really.
Always, one way is simply to remember to breath.
Another is to find a mantra or a healthy self-dialogue with yourself that gets you out of the constant looping in your head. You could say, “I choose to let this go,” or “I’m OK,” or simply bless yourself and the person you feel is triggering you (which really has more to do with you and your reaction than anyone else anyway).
Simple tools to get your footing again.
Because what life is about, truly, is to live in equanimity and peace. That’s what we’re all after.
Peace doesn’t exist somewhere “out there”. It exists in our mind. We have a choice. It’s sometimes as simple as remembering, “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?”
It’s not worth our being in an upset so trivial – which is what we often do – and it’s simply because of the default setting that most humans are set on.
Blurred lines can become less fuzzy. Less chaotic. Less painful. Less upsetting.
Maybe the question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you want them to.
Share your crack.
No, not of the plumber’s variety.
The kind that’s created from our neural noise that tells us we’re messed up in some way. It comes from this flawed premise that we seem to collectively suffer from, telling us we’re unlovable and undeserving of love.
Our neural noise gets fed by this false premise then solidifies our “cracks” making us feel more and more separated and disconnected from other people.
But as musician, Leonard Cohen, says, “There is a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in.”
So actually cracks are essential. It is through them that the unique light that is specific to each of us gets expressed.
Your light that shines upon the world is different from anyone else’s. How you shine is the individual expression of who you are. Your light isn’t more special than someone else’s – we’re all plugged into the same electrical grid – but it is unique to you. And it’s really only through your cracks that your light gets illuminated.
So to let your light shine you have to get into your cracks. They’re there for a reason. And the breakthrough occurs when you start to face them.
Work with them. Embrace them. Ask them to show you what you need to see. You have to be gentle with them and be as kind with them as you are with the parts you like about yourself. But you don’t because you have so many judgments about the hidden parts of who you are. You consider them to be negative reflections of your character. You cast them further into the dark because you feel they’re “not good” or unwanted. You hate yourself for having them because they’re reflections of the dark parts you’d rather not admit you have.
The towering figures of light in our society don’t have them. Or do they? Might it be, actually, that because of them – their cracks being broken open – these people are able to illuminate others?
Like we all are.
We live in a culture that generates a great deal of guilt and shame around our shadow parts because we’re not taught that it’s all part of the same prism. “If you don’t have any shadows,” as Lady Gaga says, “you’re not in the light.” They’re essential and necessary. But because it seems as if no one else has them, we avoid them. Or we feel badly for having them. Or further perpetuate the false belief that because of them, we’re unlovable or undeserving. In many different ways.
In love. In career. In creativity. In expression. In abundance. In success. In fulfillment. In health.
That’s what the cracks do when we continue to keep them impenetrable to the light. They prevent us from embracing the variations of love that we deserve to experience in our lives.
But once we begin to break them open, something miraculous happens.
Part two next week on what that is and how we break them open.
A student of mine said recently that while she’s driving around town she often asks herself, “What am I doing with my life?”
We can all relate.
But when we ask ourselves that question, we often do it out of panic and undermine how much we’ve actually accomplished. We beat ourselves up for where we are, comparing our lives to some idealized fantasy. We denigrate our real journey of being an artist just because we don’t have everything lined up exactly like we thought it would be. Our questioning almost suggests that the pursuit of acting – or any kind of art – is futile and therefore a waste.
Who you are as an artist is not the sum total of the jobs you book. The means do not support an end. The means support the means. The act of doing, the act of expressing, the act of celebrating who you are through your work – which is really your art – your life is your art – are the reasons for doing it.
Don’t denigrate yourself for going for things that make your heart feel alive even if there is struggle and rejection and the media’s portrayal of what success or achievement looks like hasn’t yet been bestowed upon you.
Many people think artists are “crazy.”
We’re considered crazy because we allow ourselves to feel. To emote. To dream. To pursue something we love that makes us feel deeply alive in spite of the odds against us. That takes bravery and a certain amount of foolhardiness. Passion and guts. Patience and play.
It’s called being human.
I think it’s how other people who call us “crazy” wish to live. They want to risk. They want to be more freely expressed. They want to feel. They want to be liberated from the burdens of living life like a “business.” But the paradigms of seeking security and living a stable, “normal” life are hard to break if you’ve been told you have to have those things to be safe.
The irony is, if you’re seeking security you’re not going to find that even when you find a “secure” job; a “safe” life.
No one is secure on this planet. The things we amass that make us feel safe – the titles, the cars, the money, the “stuff” – are all illusory.
Security implies being shielded from the things that affect humanity. But even if you have financial security – and everything else – you still won’t be immune to the inherent insecurity of simply being alive: loneliness, despair, rejection, termination, getting old, loss, heartache, desire, falling in love, conflict, death.
The poet David Whyte says “Anything or anyone that does not bring you fully alive is too small for you.”
So remember that the next time you tell yourself “What am I doing with my life?”
What you’re doing with your life is . . . living it!
We hold back for all sorts of reasons.
We think we’re going to be too much.
We’re scared we won’t have enough if we give it all away.
We believe that others will judge us and we’ll look stupid or weird or crazy.
We don’t trust that if we really stopped holding ourselves back that we’d be able to manage just how incredible our lives would be.
These are all ideas and ideas keep us stuck. They hold us back. They run counter to how life actually unfolds.
We have all these ideas of how we think something should be: a career, a date, a vacation, a job, an affair, a friend, a lover . . . and then what happens?
Life does its thing. The career takes a side road, the date stands you up, your vacation gets cancelled, you get fired, the affair leads to heartache, a friend moves to another country, a lover loves someone else.
Having pictures of how we want our lives to be is important. They give us something to work toward and keep our hopes alive of what’s possible. But along the way, things change, experiences transform and reality forces us to look at what’s really happening.
This doesn’t need to be tragic. It only creates suffering when we deny what is because we hold fast to our ideas that it should be something else.
Our point of power in life is created in these moments when we learn to inhabit them and accept them fully. Not fight them, not resist them, not deny them, but instead become present to what they have to show us. What is it we can learn from them? How might they turn us (and the experience) into something even better than our idea of what we thought it should be?
This then becomes a galvanizing, transformational moment. It cultivates qualities within us still needing to be developed: patience or compassion or surrender or equanimity. While at the same time creates alternative possibilities for us that if we but acknowledge and remain open to, can make our lives even more satisfying and exciting than the ideas we had for ourselves.
My dad has this saying. “Man plans. God laughs.”
I didn’t understand it as a kid, but I do now. And it’s a great reminder to let go of holding back and in so doing, discover that the things we desire can come in all sorts of forms, experiences and relationships.
It may not always turn out the way we think it’s going to turn out, but what if that became part of the fun, the excitement, the mystery of simply being here.
It is an adventure, after all. So stop holding back from going on it.
What will happen if you let yourself go?
What will happen if you have more fun?
What will happen if you truly commit?
The fears in our heads are always louder and bigger than the actual experience of them in reality. In fact, once we face the things we are most scared of, we realize that they actually aren’t that scary at all. They just remain Boogeyman-esque when we keep them locked up in the dark corners of our mind.
Part of the process of acting (and any great art) is to begin unlocking those doors of the mind to let these fears out so they no longer hold us back from what we want. Actually, the process of creating does that naturally. Because you’re eventually going to come face-to-face with your stuff.
A lot of our fears are tied to the patterns of our past that perhaps saw us getting punished for expressing ourselves. Or we heard adults tell us that we “can’t do that,” or “that’s bad.” So we locked up those parts of ourselves that are most intricately connected to creativity.
Now, as adults, when we’re asked to commit to something or play or let go or really allow ourselves to have fun (in life) and in our work, we often hear our silent critic tell us: “I’ll look silly.” “That’s too weird.” ”People will judge me.” “It’s not safe.” “It’s going to be too messy.” “I can’t do it.”
And this, then, is the Creative Crux that we all must overcome. In order to have access to all the things we want to be and have in our work: freedom, joy, passion, presence, courage, simplicity, abandonment, danger — we must traverse this chasm from the mind’s judgments and fears of what those things might look like (and do to us) and instead actually live in the commitment to them as they present themselves. It’s a bit of a mind-game because we can’t ever figure these things out at the level of the mind. They have to be experienced. And yet, what creates the experience is silencing the mind and taking the leap.
We can’t conceptualize states of being like passion, courage, simplicity, presence. Or rather, we try to, but concepts don’t take us there. In fact they keep us stuck on the sidelines watching and judging others who are truly playing in the game of life.
So get off the bench, dive in, and go for the play. When you do, you’ll become so immersed in the actual doing, you’ll end up on the other side and realize, “Oh my god, that wasn’t so hard after all!”
Someone on Twitter recently posted to me after reading one of my blogs, “Unleashing that creative side after years of being bound by boringness is a beautiful thing.”
Not only is it a beautiful thing, but once the feeling floodgates are open, we begin to realize how much of our life we’ve spent half asleep.
A creative process that opens us up to feeling and really having a rich inner emotional life of being alive also, simultaneously, makes us realize how much we’ve been disconnected from those parts of ourselves in our own life.
In many ways, it’s like being reborn.
That can be scary because it feels as if we’ve let the Halloween cat out of the bag and we can’t stuff her back in there. Meow! Claws and fangs and all. Ouch.
All sorts of feelings start to rise to the surface of our consciousness and we become acutely aware of how much we’ve been turning feeling off. We’ve been living but not thriving. So what happens in this discovery? Well, all shit hits the fan, of course.
We might throw dishes. Crash! We might make a scene. In public! We might cry for a week. “What’s happening to me?” We might feel as if we’re completely unmoored. But this is just in the short-term of releasing (sometimes years of) pent-up feeling. Sometimes we shut our feeling-selves down because of our own inner restraints. Our self-judgments tell us that it’s going to be “too much” or “too messy.” Sometimes it’s because of what we’ve been taught; that if we let go emotionally of what’s really going on for us, we’ll be punished or rejected or abandoned.
Life isn’t about numbing ourselves off and dumbing ourselves down; it’s not about anesthetizing ourselves so that other people feel OK around us. We’re feeling beings. We’re meant to feel. We have to stop editing ourselves because other people don’t know how to process feeling.
Part of our responsibility as artists is to feel so that we can show other people the way.
And as we begin to do so more consciously, we also become aware of how we often expend a great deal of energy and time on relationships and experiences that support our pseudo-self identities. You know the ones. The ones that make us think we’re not good enough or deserving or worthy or fantastic.
So we seek out relationships that confirm our false beliefs that things have to be “crazy,” or “destructive,” or “dramatic,” because, at a subconscious level, that’s what we believe we deserve.
A student said to me that she was scared that if she let go of all the drama in her life – specifically in her relationship – her life would be boring. The irony is that because she’s so wrapped up in the false feelings her experience evokes (if it’s a distraction it’s a false feeling) – she’s preventing herself from feeling deeper connection and authentic feeling that come from letting go of the people and circumstances that fuel our old, pseudo-self patterns.
So we mistake the drama and craziness and co-dependence and unfulfillment for real love. We think that if we give up these distractions, our lives will be this grey area of boring blandness.
But on the contrary the opposite is true. We realize how often we let these previous distractions keep us from getting on with our real lives and as we begin to live more fully in our authentic selves, a deeper level of communicating and sharing begins to take the place of the superficial levels we were existing at.
Drama turns into real, exciting, romantic passion.
Craziness turns into fun and laughter and joy and communion.
Codependence turns into intimacy and support and respect and freedom.
Unfulfillment turns into appreciation and fullness and contentment.
All experiences in life are here to spur us on to our next level of awareness. Of discovery. Of realization. At a deep, core level, we already know the answers to things we ask ourselves.
The question is . . . are we brave enough to listen to the truth and then move in the direction of that knowing?
Truly, the cat must then come out of the bag.
No tricks, however. Only immeasurable treats. And no longer living a life “bound by boringness.”
We are all non-conformists! It’s in our DNA. There is a trailblazer within each of us just waiting to be expressed.
But it requires us to become a challenge to the established ways of institutionalized, dogmatic thinking. Being a non-conformist is not about you putting something on top of who you already are. It’s allowing your essential nature to come forward.
Authentic non-conformity simply comes from your being.
In my early 20’s I’d always try to do “stuff” to appear different or odd or whacky to the world. These were my early attempts in non-conformism. To show how special I was. Or for people to pay attention to me. And though the spirit of that passion was correct, its expression was not.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered it’s not about doing or showing anything. You don’t have to try so hard. It’s about being. It just is.
The challenge of tapping into your own non-conformist self is that we are all anesthetized by popular culture. We’re all in a cultural coma. And what’s scary is we often don’t realize it.
We eat what we’re told to eat, wear what we’re told to wear, read the same books, listen to the same music, watch the same TV.
What if we consumed less? And thought for ourselves and created more?
William Goldman who wrote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Princess Bride said that, “The single most important fact of the entire movie industry is that nobody knows anything.”
He talked about how Paramount Studios was the only studio to say yes to Raiders of the Lost Ark when every other major studio in Hollywood turned it down.
He continues: “Why did Paramount say yes? Because nobody knows anything. And why did all the other studios say no? Because nobody knows anything. And why did Universal, the biggest studio at that time, pass on Star Wars? Because nobody, nobody – not now, not ever – knows the least goddamn thing about what is or isn’t going to work at the box office.”
But this can be extended to everything. No one knows what’s going to work in publishing, in design, in music, in innovation, in science, in fashion, in technology.
It’s all experimentation. Trial and error. Attempt and repeat. Taking a Quantum Leap.
You weren’t put on this planet to conform. You weren’t put on this planet to tell the same stories that have been told for the last 50 years. You are here to tell your story.
Stop being so afraid that you might not be liked. Or that you can’t ruffle some feathers. Or that you’ll get rejected or denied or fired or let go. So what?
If you keep trying to change yourself for everyone who is asking, then what are you left with?
All the “experts” are going to tell you something different. That you need to do this and you must do that and it has to happen by a certain age and you have to live in this zip code and you need to look this way and weigh this amount and wear these kinds of clothes and get this degree and work for this company and know this person and go to that gym.
Be less concerned with what the experts say because the experts don’t know.
As Thoreau said, “If an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side . . . one does not remain inert for the other, but both obey their own laws.”
(Watch the video to understand what the picture below of Bruce Jenner means in regards to the Art of Non-Conformity!)
If only things in life were “certain.”
“If I were certain I wouldn’t fail, I’d attempt that.”
“If I were certain I had enough money, I’d do that.”
“If I were certain he liked me back I’d ask him out.”
There is no certainty in life. You’re waiting for an illusion to appear as something real to give you a green-light to activate your life.
The only certainty is uncertainty.
And the acknowledgement of this universal principle can be life-changing.
The power of uncertainty is the power of life. If everything were certain, our lives would be boring. They would be dull and monochromatic and without adventure. Believe it or not, the uncertainty in our lives is what excites us. It keeps us activated. Gives birth to desires. Forces us to attempt things. Awakens our curiosity and encourages us to risk.
And it also enables us to access creativity because we’re constantly being stretched to new levels of awareness and new discoveries within ourselves.
Instead of being scared of uncertainty, what if you saw it as the provider of a renewable resource?
The renewable resource is all the parts of you that you are waiting to give away.
Why are you waiting?
Do you think that you’re going to run out of love? Or compassion? Or kindness? Or talent? Or intelligence? Or happiness?
Every day give your all. Love your all. Create your all. Express your all. Celebrate your all. Share your all. Give your all.
Stop hoarding it and saving it for the perfect boyfriend or the dream vacation or the best audition or the honeymoon or the big event or the right time.
The right time – and the only time – ever, is now.
And that is certain.
Why don’t we get what we want in life?
Well, we actually do get what we want in life, but since we insist that the thing we desire look the way we think its supposed to look (and because it never does) – we actually shut out what wants to present itself in our experience (which is what we want) – and we miss it completely.
We ignore it. We deny it. We refuse to see the possibility in it. It wants to show us the way and generate creative ideas, but we think we know better.
So we end up with nothing. Or rather, we end up with a lot but it never seems to square away with the idea of what we want, so it feels like we’re getting squat.
There is your idea of life and how you want it to unfold . . . then there’s life.
When you give up your ideas (and expectations) of how things are supposed to be and instead embrace what you have, you begin to see interesting patterns.
Patterns whispering to you, “This is the way.” “Try this.” “Don’t be scared.” “Give it a go.” “Trust.” “What do you have to lose?” “What’s the worst that can happen?” “Breathe.”
When you start listening to the hunches, the “ah-hah’s,” the inner charges, you start to move in the direction of that thing you’re wanting, even if you can’t see it yet.
And that’s when the “How’s” of life become the “Wow’s”
You begin to stop worrying about the “How’s.”
“How will I get there?” “How will it work?” “How do I know?” “How is it possible?” “How can I be certain?”
Let Infinite Intelligence work out the plans. You can’t orchestrate them. You can’t control them. (Try as you might!) All you can do is set forth a clear intention and then go for the ride.
Try being a passenger for once. (And not the bossy, back-seat driver kind!) I mean, the kind where you trust you’ll end up at your destination even if you aren’t in control of reading the map.
Life is a lot like driving at night in the fog.
All you really have to do is keep illuminating the next 100 feet in front of you.