Choose Yourself

“If you have a story to tell or a service to offer (it doesn’t matter what), love yourself enough to choose yourself. Take control of your work, your life, your art. The tools are out there. Now you just need to use the tools inside yourself.” -James Altucher, Choose Yourself

Many are called.

Few are chosen.

Even fewer choose themselves.

Choose yourself.

It’s the way, the only way. Because even if you’re one of the lucky few who were initially chosen, somewhere down the line that runs out, and you’ll need to choose yourself. Might as well start now.

Go make your art.

Pro-Am

“What happens when we turn pro is, we finally listen to that still, small voice inside our heads. At last we find the courage to identify the secret dream or love or bliss that we have known all along was our passion, our calling, our destiny…We’re like sharks who have tasted blood, or renunciants who have glimpsed the face of God. For us, there is no finish line. No bell ends the bout. Life is the pursuit. Life is the hunt. When our hearts burst, then we’ll go out, and no sooner.” – Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro

“If there was no fame involved and very minimal money – which is the case for most actors – I’d still be doing it. If I wasn’t good enough to be a professional, I’d be an amateur actor.” -Mark Rylance

Cultivate the discipline of a professional. You do the work no matter what. Day in. Day out. It is your calling, your vocation, your duty.

Cultivate the love of the amateur. You do the work because it’s fun and brings you great joy and lights up your soul. You remain open to new ideas and discoveries no matter what age.

Hold both these mindsets at the same time and you’ll be one badass motherfucker of an artist.

Practice

“We’re sitting in here, and I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen, we’re talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talking about practice. Not a game. Not, not … Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game, but we’re talking about practice, man. I mean, how silly is that? … And we talking about practice. I know I supposed to be there. I know I’m supposed to lead by example… I know that… And I’m not.. I’m not shoving it aside, you know, like it don’t mean anything. I know it’s important, I do. I honestly do… But we’re talking about practice man. What are we talking about? Practice? We’re talking about practice, man. We’re talking about practice. We’re talking about practice. We ain’t talking about the game. [more laughter] We’re talking about practice, man. When you come to the arena, and you see me play, you see me play don’t you? You’ve seen me give everything I’ve got, right? But we’re talking about practice right now…” -Allen Iverson post game press conference May 7, 2022

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” -Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Make everything you do a practice.

Including life and death.

P.S. – The rant of all rants.

Be Your Own Oracle

“When I discover who I am, then I will be free.” -Ralph Ellison

“No one can tell you you’re in love. You just know it. Through and through. Balls to bones.” -The Oracle speaking to Neo in The Matrix

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” -Richard Feynman

“One should know one’s self. For that, the path of knowledge, the inquiry of the form “Who am I?”, is the principal means.” -Ramana Maharshi

“Gnothi Seauton.”

(Inscription above the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi, site of the sacred oracle.)

Trying to find your purpose, your destiny? Struggling with what to do in a particular situation?

Be your own oracle. Ask and continually answer the following as it will change as you change:

Know thyself.

Know what thy want.

Know why thy want it.

You tackle those three…can’t lose.

P.S. – This scene.

Affirmation

“SONIA: What can we do? We must live our lives. [A pause] Yes, we shall live, Uncle Vanya. We shall live through the long procession of days before us, and through the long evenings; we shall patiently bear the trials that fate imposes on us; we shall work for others without rest, both now and when we are old; and when our last hour comes we shall meet it humbly, and there, beyond the grave, we shall say that we have suffered and wept, that our life was bitter, and God will have pity on us. Ah, then dear, dear Uncle, we shall see that bright and beautiful life; we shall rejoice and look back upon our sorrow here; a tender smile—and—we shall rest. I have faith, Uncle, fervent, passionate faith. [SONIA kneels down before her uncle and lays her head on his hands. She speaks in a weary voice] We shall rest. [TELEGIN plays softly on the guitar] We shall rest. We shall hear the angels. We shall see heaven shining like a jewel. We shall see all evil and all our pain sink away in the great compassion that shall enfold the world. Our life will be as peaceful and tender and sweet as a caress. I have faith; I have faith. [She wipes away her tears] My poor, poor Uncle Vanya, you are crying! [Weeping] You have never known what happiness was, but wait, Uncle Vanya, wait! We shall rest. [She embraces him] We shall rest. [The WATCHMAN’S rattle is heard in the garden; TELEGIN plays softly; MME. VOITSKAYA writes something on the margin of her pamphlet; MARINA knits her stocking] We shall rest.” –Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov, New Adaptation by Connor McPherson

Stop trying to prove anything or seek validation. All it does is get in the way. (And you’ll never get the right kind or amount anyway.)

Just know and believe that…

You’re good.

You’re talented.

You’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.

You belong here.

Now…

Get to work.

Because all that matters is the work, the work, the work!

P.S. – Even MJ needed some affirmation every now and then.

Love(d)

… the inner essence, the all-embracing goal, the objective of all objectives, the concentration of the entire score of the role, of all its major and minor units. The super-objective contains the meaning, the inner sense, of all the subordinate objectives of the play. In carrying out this one super-objective you have arrived at something even more important, superconscious, ineffable, which is the spirit of [the writer] himself, the thing that inspired him to write and which inspires an actor to act. -Constantin Stanislavski, Creating A Role

“We all want to be loved, don’t we? Everyone looks for a way of finding love. It’s a constant search for affection in every walk of life.” -Audrey Hepburn

“Don’t look for Love, look for the one looking for Love.” -Rumi

“If you wish to be loved, love.” -Seneca

We all want to love and be loved.

Let that motivate what you do, say and think about. To yourself and in your dealings with others. It’s the start of empathy and sonder.

And actors…remembering this also works great for your super-objective. Start with the desire to love and be loved. Then drill down with specificity in each beat.

Classic

“Human beings dream of life everlasting, that’s the reason! But most of them want it on earth and not in heaven.” – Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

“[The play grew] from above all, perhaps, the image of a need greater than hunger or sex or thirst, a need to leave a thumbprint somewhere on the world. A need for immortality, and by admitting it, the knowing that one has carefully inscribed one’s name on a cake of ice on a hot July day.” -Arthur Miller on writing Death Of A Salesman in his Introduction to Collected Plays

“People claim to want to do something that matters, yet they measure themselves against things that don’t, and track their progress not in years but in microseconds. They want to make something timeless, but they focus instead on immediate payoffs and instant gratification.” -Ryan Holiday, The Art Of Making And Marketing Work That Lasts

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” -Steve Jobs

Need a little inspiration today? Want to get back in touch with why you became an artist in the first place?

Go spend time with a classic. It will never let you down. It always delivers and feels as fresh today as it was when it was first created. That’s the power of its resonance.

And then…

Go try to make a classic of your own.

Must, Should, Want Q & A

Question: “How do I know if I’m on the right path?”

Answer: When what you MUST do lines up with what you think you SHOULD do lines up with what you really WANT to do.

And don’t forget that no matter what, always be grateful that you GET TO DO anything at all.

P.S. – Can you name the movie in the above picture? Bonus points if you can tell me what question he asks in the tape recorder.