Why Read

“I’m not saying that you have to be a reader to save your soul in the modern world. I’m saying it helps.” -Walter Mosley

Pound for pound, can you think of a better investment of your time and money than a book? I can’t.

All that research. All that knowledge and wisdom. All those life lessons and experiences. All that vulnerability. All that dedication to craft (It took Karl Malantes thirty years to write “Matterhorn.” THIRTY YEARS.) All that artistry.

As Ryan Holiday states…

Books are an investment in yourself—investments that come in many forms: novels, nonfiction, how-to, poetry, classics, biographies. They help you think more clearly, be kinder, see the bigger picture, and improve at the things that matter to you. Books are a tradition that stretches back thousands of years and stretches forward to today, where people are still publishing distillations of countless hours of hard thinking on hard topics. Why wouldn’t you avail yourself of this wisdom?

Cmon. It’s a no brainer.

Put down the phone and go read a book. I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

Goals Become Signposts

“If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.” -Seneca

The goal, the big dream or vision is often what motivates us to start. To finally take action. And we do need something to shoot for. Otherwise we’ll just drift. But it’s when the goal becomes just another signpost on the road. When we fall madly in love with process, so much so that we’d do the thing anyway, regardless of outcome…that’s when we know we’re on the right track.

Paul Shirley writes about this in his excellent book, “The Process Is The Product”:

To accomplish anything challenging and worthwhile, we have to care enough to push through the times when we want to stop or give up—when our phones are too tempting, or when the prospect of another job interview makes us nauseous, or when it’s the end of the workday and we don’t really want to do all those sit-ups because it would be a lot easier to flop onto the couch and watch TV. Sometimes we call this desire “passion.” Sometimes “motivation.” Sometimes “grit” or “determination” or “resilience.” But really, it’s this: in the long run, it feels better to do it than to not do it. As in, we like it. That’s the trick: turning the pursuit of a long-term goal into something that’s inherently enjoyable by figuring out what it is we love about the day-to-day of working toward that goal.

This is turning our process into our product—setting a long-term goal, coming up with a system for how to arrive at that goal, and then becoming so captivated by our system that the goal stops being a destination and starts being a signpost on the route to fulfillment, meaning, and long-term satisfaction.

Anger Can Boost You But…

14 awful films that made A LOT of money

“Anger to people is like gas to the automobile—it fuels you to move forward and get to a better place. Without it, we would not be motivated to rise to a challenge.” -Mahatma Ghandi

Anger, if properly harnessed and contained, can fuel you to the starting line. But be wary, it burns white hot and like nitrous oxide, the boost runs out super fast.

Love is the only fuel that gets you to the finish.

“The greatest of human emotions is love. The most valuable of human gifts is the ability to learn. Therefore learn to love.” -UJ Ramdas

“I will greet this day with love in my heart. And how will I do this? Henceforth will I look on all things with love and I will be born again.” -Og Mandino

P.S. – One other thought about anger…My friend, mentor and sage acting teacher Howard Fine constantly reminds his students that anger is a secondary emotion. It reveals or is a response to the primary emotion which is hurt.

Forward

“I you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you you do you have to keep moving forward.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Whatever you’re working on, whatever passion project you’re trying to manifest, whatever change you’re trying to make in this world, what matters most is that you keep moving forward.

Some days it might not feel like you’re making progress and that’s okay as change isn’t linear, but no matter what, just keep going. Chin up. One foot in front of the other. Forward. Forward. Forward.

Be The Medium

The 20 Greatest Quotes From Beetlejuice | Screen Rant

“Practice not doing and everything will fall into place.” –Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu (Stephen Mitchell translation)

“I can talk, I can speak, I have something to say,…The language of great writing frees you of yourself.” -Al Pacino

“I’m a vessel for other people’s stories and other women’s lives.” -Meryl Streep

Don’t worry about “acting” the part well.

Instead, allow the part to come through you. Get out of the spirit’s way and just channel it.

Be its vessel.

You’re the psychic medium between the art and the audience.

P.S. – “Day-O, Day-O…Daylight come and we want go home”

Never…

Dry Idea TV Spot - iSpot.tv

“There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.” -Coach Finstock’s advice to Scott Howard in Teen Wolf

Speaking of the 80’s and giving advice, remember those ad campaigns for Dry Idea anti-persperant? A celebrity would look into the camera and tell you their three “Nevers.” The last one always being “Never let them see you sweat.” Like this one and this one and this one.

In the spirit of that campaign, here we go…

Never let them see you act.

Never let them see you act.

Never, I mean never, under no circumstances, ever, ever, ever, let them see you act.

P.S. – “The Zen Teachings Of Bobby Finstock”

Don’t Be A Prisoner To Praise

“If you believe the good reviews, then you have to believe the bad ones too.” -Jackson Browne

As an artist, you want absolute freedom to risk, push boundaries and make mistakes. You want the ability to swing for the fences knowing you might just fall flat on your face.

Examine your attachments to people’s expectations and your own. Examine your attachments to positive feedback of your prior work. The last thing you want is to have to live up to any of that. Don’t. Don’t be a prisoner to praise.

Anthony De Mello writes beautifully about this in his book “The Way To Love”

How easily we are taken in by the judgment of other people and then form an image of ourselves based on this judgment. In order to be truly liberated you need to listen to the so-called good and bad things that they tell you, but to feel no emotion at the feedback any more than a computer does when data is fed into it. Because what they say about you reveals more about them than about you.

As a matter of fact you also have to be aware of the judgments that you make about yourself, because even those are generally based on the value systems that you picked up from the people around you. If you judge, condemn, approve, do you ever see reality? If you look at anything through the eye of judgment or approval or condemnation, is that not the major barrier to understanding and observing things as they are in themselves? Take the time when somebody told you that you are very special to him; if you accepted that compliment then you ate the fruit of tension. Why do you want to be special to someone and to submit to that kind of approval and judgment? Why not just be content to be you?

When someone tells you how special you are, all that you can accurately say is: This person given his particular taste and needs, desires, appetites and projections has a special desire for me, but that says nothing about me as a person. Someone else will find me quite unspecial and that too says nothing about me as a person. So the moment you accept that compliment and you allow yourself to enjoy it, you will give control of yourself to that person. You will go to great lengths in order to continue to be special to this person. You will be in constant fear lest he meets someone who will become special to him and thus you will be dislodged from the special position you occupy in his life. And you will be constantly dancing to his tunes, living up to his expectations, and in doing so you will have lost your freedom. You have made yourself dependent on him for your happiness, for you have made your happiness depend on his judgment of you.

Then you can make things worse by beginning to search for other people who will tell you that you are special to them and you invest so much time and energy in making sure that they never lose this image they have of you. What a wearisome way to live! Suddenly fear comes into your life, fear that the image will be destroyed, and if what you seek is fearlessness and freedom, you must let go of this. How? By refusing to take anybody seriously when they tell you how special you are. The words “You are special to me” simply say something about my present mood regarding you, my taste, my present state of mind and development. They say nothing else. So accept that as a fact and do not rejoice in it. What you may rejoice in is my company and not my compliment. What you may enjoy is my present interaction with you, not my praise. And if you are wise, you will urge me to find many other special people so that you are never tempted to hold on to this image that I have of you. It is not my image of you that you enjoy because you are ceaselessly aware that my image of you can change so easily. So what you enjoy is the present moment, because if you enjoy the image that I have of you, I will control you and you will be afraid to be yourself lest you hurt me, you will be afraid to tell me the truth, to do or say anything that would damage the image that I have of you.

Apply this now to every image that people have of you and they tell you that you are a genius or wise or good or holy, and you enjoy that compliment and in that minute you lose your freedom; because now you will be constantly striving to retain that opinion. You will fear to make mistakes, to be yourself, to do or say anything that will spoil the image. You have lost the freedom to make a fool of yourself, to be laughed at and to be ridiculed, to do and say whatever feels right to you rather than what fits in with the image others have of you. How does one break this? Through many patient hours of study, awareness, observation, of what this silly image brings you. It gives you a thrill combined with so much insecurity and unfreedom and suffering. If you were to see this clearly you would lose your appetite to be special to anyone, or to be highly regarded by anyone. You would move about with sinners or bad characters and do and say as you please, regardless of what people think of you. You would become like the birds and flowers that are so totally unself-conscious, too busy with the task of living to care one little bit about what others think of them, about whether they are special to others or not. And at last, you will have become fearless and free.

Remember…if you aim to please, you will please no one.

P.S. – And if you receive an unexpected compliment?…Politely say “thank you” to acknowledge their gift. Then let it go. Move on. Back to work.

Revisit

“Books remain the same but we certainly have changed, and this later encounter is therefore completely new.” -Italo Calvino

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.” -Heraclitus

“Intellect is a magnitude of intensity, not a magnitude of extensity.” -Arthur Schopenhauer

“A person who has read widely but not well deserves to be pitied rather than praised.” -Mortimer Adler

“If I read as many books as most people do, I would be as dull-witted as they are.” -Thomas Hobbes

What’s the last book you read that blew your mind? How old were you when you read it? How old are you now?

Instead of reaching for yet another book, why not re-read that original one? Go deeper. For example, the author Ryan Holiday has read “Meditations” over one hundred times. (Bill Clinton reads it every year too.) Does your book still blow you away? If yes, are the reasons any different now versus when you first read it? If it doesn’t blow you away, why not? What’s changed? Isn’t that interesting?

And if books aren’t your jazz, maybe it’s a film or an album or a painting. Whatever. Revisit that art and investigate your feelings towards it. You’ll be glad you did.

P.S. – Would love to know your revisit. If so inclined, email me or leave in the comments. Thanks! (And if you’re curious, here’s mine.)

Present

“Be in the moment. Period. Just be there. Because if you get all like, ‘Oh I got to do this big thing.’ It just never works. It just doesn’t work. You’ve just got to let go. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Whatever you do is ok, just be truthful, honest, real, and that’s all you can ask for.” -Robert De Niro

“The reason we want to go on and on is because we live in an impoverished present.” -Alan Watts

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why we call it ‘The Present’ –Eleanor Roosevelt

For the actor…

Not…”Was I good?” Or “Did I do it right?”

Rather…”Was I present, alive, in the moment?” (And only you can answer this question.)

If yes, you can do no wrong.

P.S. – In the last week, we’ve sadly lost three giants in entertainment. R.I.P. Mr. Poitier, Mr. Bogdanovich and Ms. White.