The Resistance Is Real

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield — Clintonslibrary

The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield is a phenomenal book.  Read it.

I especially love it because Pressfield names the sucky feeling we all have inside whenever we embark on a new project. That feeling of doubt.  Of not being up to the task. Of procrastinating. Of wanting to pivot and do something else. Anything but the project we set out to do.

He calls it “The Resistance.”

Guess what?

The resistance is real and it’s never going away.

Ever.

So what to do?

One, just be aware.  When you feel the resistance, know it’s your lizard brain at work.

Two, don’t get down on yourself because you’re feeling it. You’re supposed to. It’s what you do in spite of the resistance that counts.

Third, enlist whatever internal and external help you can find.  Friends, family members, colleagues, therapists, coaches, mantras, books, affirmations, etc…whatever works.  Do it.  As long as it’s in service of getting you to do the work.  To do what you set out to do. (Pressfield talks about his daily invocation to the artist gods to get his butt in the chair every day and write.  Great.  Do that.  Try it. What have you got to lose?)

The resistance is real.  It’s always there.  Always will be.

Ok.  Cool.  Now you know.

Proceed anyway.  That’s the real talent. That’s what will define you.

Tell Them About It

Tell Her About It by Billy Joel | 10 of the best Billy Joel songs ...

Tell her about it 
Tell her everything you feel 
Give her every reason 
To accept that you’re for real
-Billy Joel from his hit song “Tell Her About It”

Before reading this post, click HERE to watch the music video. It’ll put you in a good mood. Beware, you might get up and start dancing. (And be sure to watch all the way to the end for a classic Rodney Dangerfield moment.)

Okay. Continue reading…

Word of Mouth is an incredibly powerful thing. In a world of infinite choice, and connection, we still trust and defer to those in our inner circle.

When one of my friends tells me I have to go see or read something, it moves way up on my list. A recent example of this is two of my friends separately urged me (multiple times) to watch the filmed play Cypress Avenue at the Royal Court. I have a gazillion things to read and watch, but I prioritized this at their urging. I’m so glad I did. It was fantastic! (Thank you Paul and Andy.)

You can watch it HERE.

One of the most simple and generous things you can do is that when you come across something you love, share it with others. Don’t keep it to yourself.

One, you’re supporting the artist(s). So many art forms entirely rely on word of mouth. I’m thinking of my own, intimate theatre, of course. But also independent film, indie music, poetry, books, painting, dance, etc…This also extends to our local businesses. Just ate at a great new restaurant? Shout it from the rooftops! Just made a cool purchase from a store that gave you excellent service? Tell people know how amazing it is.

Two, you’re being generous to those you tell. By spreading the word, you just gave your friend a great night out. Or a novel they’ll be hooked on. A record they can’t stop playing.

Third, by sharing what you love, you’re sharpening your taste. You’re getting specific. You’re standing behind what you believe in. You’re deliberately practicing all the skills necessary to be a great producer.

Tell Them About It. You’ll be glad you did.

For Love Of The Art

The 100 Most Iconic On-Court Photos of Michael Jordan | Nice Kicks

Yes, it’s another basketball post. Sorry, I can’t help myself. Besides basketball being my first love, I’m watching “The Last Dance” right now. It’s incredible–definitely watch–and it’s bringing up all sorts of thoughts for me.

Here’s one…

Michael Jordan famously had a “Love Of The Game” clause in his contract with the Chicago Bulls. It allowed him to play basketball against anyone, anytime and anywhere. Outside of his regular NBA season.

Think about that for a second. The greatest player in the game loved basketball so much, that he had it put in his contract. No restrictions. If he wanted to play in some meaningless summer pick up game, then he would play. Injury be damned. Nothing would come between him and his love.

I’m sure the Bulls were terrified of this clause. But what could they do? They had no choice. MJ had the leverage.

How about we make a “For Love Of The Art” contract with ourselves and our audience? It says that we’re doing this project because we’re absolutely passionate about it. We love it so much that we had to produce it and share it with you. That means…

A planned short run.

No reviews.

No press.

No awards.

Not that there’s anything wrong with long runs and accolades. They’re wonderful.

But we’re playing a different game here.

We’re making our art because we have to. There’s no choice. We’re summoned. It’s a vocation.

“For Love Of The Art.”

That’s the mission of The Vs. Studio.

I hope you’ll join us.

Opportunity

BL_Podcast_Artwork_ep74_v2.jpg

“To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities.” -Bruce Lee

I couldn’t resist another post and quote from my man Bruce. This one’s been knocking around in my head for months.

Tried to expand on this idea, but everything I wrote paled in comparison to the power of his one sentence.

So let’s leave it at that.

Nothing Will Ever Be The Same

Tupac - All Eyes OnMe | Full Album | | Best Quality | | HD | - YouTube

“Things will never be the same. That’s just the way it is.” -Tupac Shakur

“Nothing will ever be the same.”

Been hearing this a lot lately? I sure have.

This doesn’t mean things will be worse. It just means they will de different.

And different can be a great thing.

Truth is, we needed to make some changes. Many changes.

And Covid-19 just accelerated the pace of those changes.

Like…

Being mindful of how we spend our time.  

Being grateful of everything we have. 

Being generous and looking out for others. 

Being open to new ideas, new perspectives, new solutions. 

Being willing to lead; to take a stand.

Being focused on making our art.

“Nothing will be ever be the same.” 

Bring it on.

Fear

Yoda | Wookieepedia | Fandom

“Named must your fear be, before banish it you can.” — Yoda

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” – Joseph Campbell

“We suffer more in imagination, than in reality.” – Seneca

I’ve never read the book “Feel The Fear…and Do It Anyway” but the title alone seems like great advice.

However, before the “do it anyway” part, consider the timeless exercise of fear setting. It’s getting down on paper the worst fears in your head. The Stoics termed it “Premeditatio Malorum” or “the premeditation of evils.” For more on this, check out Tim Ferris’ article and excellent TED Talk here.

Two observations from doing the exercise:

One…Our worst fears are unlikely to occur, and if they do, we’ll recover. Somehow. Someway. We’re resilient!

Two…Whatever we fear most is usually the exact path we should take.

I’ve never regretted not facing my fears. Only trying to avoid them.

P.S. – Give the exercise a try. And share with me your observations. I’d love to hear back!

Sonder

Before Sunrise and Before Sunset: Laden with Happiness and Tears ...

“You know what the worst thing about someone breaking up with you is?… Remembering how little you really thought about the people you broke up with and realizing that’s how little they’re thinking about you.” Before Sunrise

Consider sonder. Which is, the realization that everyone has their own narrative going on in their head. And their narrative is every bit as rich as the one going on in your head.

That realization, that sonder, is the first step towards empathy. Which then gives us a good chance to be kind. To be generous. To make art.

It Doesn’t Matter

Empty basketball court outdoor Stock Photos - Page 1 : Masterfile

1986. Miami Beach, Florida. North Shore Park. Outdoor basketball courts. Night. Under the sodium lights.

I’m thirteen.

I’m short.

And a little bit chubby. (The polite term back then was “husky.”)

But I can shoot…when I’m wide open.

As usual, I’m practicing by myself on a separate basket.

One of the adults on the “grown men court” walks over to me and asks if I wanna run with them.

I notice they don’t have a basketball. That’s the only reason he came over.

“Yeah, sure” I respond and nervously walk over to their court.

I play a few games. I do okay. Hit a couple jumpers. Everything else needs work. Lots of work.

I keep practicing.

Over the ensuing weeks snd months, I sometimes get asked to play. Even when they have a basketball.

More time passes. More practicing.

I get older. Taller. Better.

I become a regular on the “grown men court.”

I made it.

It doesn’t matter that the only reason you’re in the game is because you brought the ball.

It doesn’t matter that the only reason you’re on that stage is because you produced it.

It only matters what you do once you’re under those lights.

Solutions

Solving The Good Will Hunting Problem | Brown Bear's Bites

It’s easy to look around and diagnose the problems. How many books, articles and news stories do nothing but that? Day after day. An unending stream of “let me show you how bad things are”; “why we’re in this mess; “who’s to blame.” Sadly, most of it is designed to hold our attention spans hostage.

I’m not for one second suggesting we turn a blind eye to our problems. We absolutely need the diagnosis. It’s important to know what needs fixing.

But there’s another side that is woefully ignored. That gets scant attention.

The solutions.

Because solutions are hard.

Because just like art, they might not work. There’s nuance involved. Careful thought. Small, deliberate steps. Practical, thankless action. You could be wrong. You will be judged.

Okay.

Do it anyway.

Because we need you. We need your leadership. Your effort. Your ideas. Your willingness to try.

We need your solutions.

P.S. – Here are a couple of solutions-based organizations to check out:

Solutions Journalism

Weave: The Social Fabric Project

Vanity Project

The Myth of Narcissus | History Today

You’re not doing this play and this role because of vanity.

You’re not doing the difficult, often thankless, producing work because “it’s good to get up there.”

You’re not doing it because you want to “showcase your talents.”

You’re not doing it because you want people to come up to you at the end of the night and tell you how wonderful you were.

You’re not doing it to get representation.

You’re not doing it to book future, paid work.

No way. That’s not why. That’s not you.

You’re doing it because you fell in love with this play. This role. At this time. So much so, you were willing to produce it.

You’re doing it because you want all the other artists (actors, director, designers, crew) to shine brightly and have an incredible, joyful experience.

You’re doing it because you want to honor the playwright. Their blood, sweat and tears they poured out on the page.

You’re doing it because you want to give the audience a memorable night out.

You’re doing it because…well…you just have to. You’re called to it. Summoned. Like a vocation. You didn’t have a choice.

That’s not vanity.

That’s passion.

And if people still want to judge you and call it a vanity project?…Fine.

I can’t wait to come and see your “Vanity Project”. Because it’s gonna be awesome.