So the definition of success, according to dictionary.com, is the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals. Wow. That sounds kind of contradictory to me. Anytime the word termination is mentioned it always sounds so definite to me. That it is the end. Curtains, as they say. It does say favorable or prosperous which gives me hope. It means that you have finally reached your goal, whatever that may be. But for me, it never seems to be a possibility. I am always striving to find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
When I was younger and looking to the future of what success in my field would look like it wasn’t what it has turned out to be. Don’t get me wrong. I have been very fortunate and have seen and experienced things that a kid from Cincinnati, Ohio could only have dreamed of happening. But once I reached a certain “goal” it never seemed to be what I thought it would be. It seemed the road to get there was a lot more exciting than when it actually happened. Or in my case, I seem to always wonder if I had ever achieved the initial goal in the first place. Things happened that were totally unexpected which was part of the excitement. And then it wasn’t. Failures lingered with me and often times made me feel like giving up.
I traveled at a break neck speed to try and prove that not only was I successful in my mind but in the mind of others. It was so important for me to look successful in the eyes of my peers, whatever that picture was, and in the process, started to lose the joy of why I decided to choose this path in the first place.
I still go about my work with the same focus as before as my innate nature is to have everything in order. Perfect and pristine. The mere thought of me being mortal and actually making a mistake keeps me reeling for weeks.
But something is starting to shift as I’ve gotten older. I have embraced a real tunnel vision for my work. I’m having a hard time dealing with all of the business outside of my immediate, creative process. I know it’s important and has to be dealt with but I’m finding that my real success is when I stay on the peripheral of the chaos and know that what is happening on the outside is going to happen whether I want it to or not. The real challenge is for me is to not engage in the panic and remain still in knowing that the reason why I am there is the work.
I know I will get caught up in the drama from time to time and quite frankly I get angry at myself for being swept up in it. But to succeed in any goal, I think, is to know the different between termination of one’s insecurities and the discovery of one’s soul. For me, that’s the real definition of success.
I know sooner or later I’d have to write about how yoga has played such an important part of my life. I have been practicing on and off for over 40 years. I was 16 when I was a young apprentice at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park in the summer acting program. A free spirited peculiar man named Jewel Walker was teaching something called yoga incorporated with the Alexander Technique. Now this was Cincinnati, Ohio in 1971 and any practice like that was looked upon as an idea short of witchcraft. There was no lululemon, no fancy studios or designer mats. Most of the time we were in pajama pants and a t-shirt. Jewel had long scraggly hair and always wore free flowing pants with a tank top. He spoke very softly, focused and was very, very relaxed. I just thought he enjoyed some nice weed as it was still heavy in the hippie days and everyone in the “theater” was looked upon as being out there.
Somehow his inner strength made a huge impression on me and I wanted to have that kind of presence. I was trying to find my way as an artist as I knew even then I was destined to be involved in the arts for the rest of my life. I wasn’t sure how all of that was going to work out but I knew I felt at home when I was in Jewel’s class.
As the years wore on I dappled in other forms of dance, aerobics and movement but I always kept coming back to yoga. It seemed to be a place where I could relax, breathe and strengthen my mind and body. There are many forms of yoga but I always seemed to be the most at home with Hatha. The meaning of yoga is union which is a perfect way of describing what it is like when the tension in your body is released by the relaxation of your mind. They say we hold our emotions in our hips and there have been many times when I have started to cry, not from sadness, but from sheer relief that the tension I have held onto has finally been released.
I have had strange thoughts while in the most bizarre yoga position and I think it has been my mind’s way of saying to let go. Listen to my body and respect what it is trying to tell me. I will have worked many long hours on my feet and not notice the wear and tear I am doing to my body. Then I will do an hour of yoga and be reminded the gift my body gives me everyday. I must take the time to give thanks to this miraculous gift of life I take for granted.
I am a cancer survivor and if nothing else, being a survivor has taught me to listen not only to my mind but what my body is telling me. To be aware that good health is vital and can be lost in an instant. That the gift of breath which is the basis of yoga is the basis of life. I don’t know if Jewel was his real name but I know what he taught me at an early age has set me up for life to have something to go to when I need that special support. And that makes him a gem to me.
This has been an albatross for me most of my life. As much as on the surface I seem to be very organized and together inside I am constantly fighting the battle of the inner voice saying, “Did you do it? Did you do it? When are you going to do it?”
In my professional life there are deadlines. Something HAS to be done by a certain time and if it isn’t I won’t have a job. Hundreds of people make up the fabric of getting a project shot whether it be film, TV, commercial or any other creative project. You are given a date and by God you better meet that deadline or else.
But life has a way of not really caring about when something is done or if it gets finished at all. The only person who suffers is you and you can be very hard on yourself. I am much harder on myself than any production. In the back of my mind I know that there are people expecting me to deliver and the task is very clear. But what direction I choose in my personal life is another story.
My son is going through a time right now where he thought he knew what he wanted, went to school for it, got a degree and was ready to take on the music world. I knew when he chose his profession it was going to be a hard road. Especially choosing being a jazz musician. But no matter how much you can express what you think they have to find their own way and discover for them what will work and what won’t. Have to say it’s hard to watch sometimes because you know how hard it was for you when you were their age. I keep telling myself the best gift I can give him is his independence.
But here I am going off on a tangent and procrastinating with what is really the root of why I do procrastinate. Someone once told me that if you don’t make a decision, you can’t be blamed. And God knows I love to blame myself for not having the insight as to what is my next step. Because if I take that step and it’s the wrong step (which I have done more times than I would like to admit) than the outcome may be too much to accept. When I was younger I had the time to fix my screw-ups but as I get older, time is going by very quickly and I feel like I am always trying to beat the clock. I try to look ahead for the next round in life and I’m not quite sure I have the chops for it.
I know whatever I choose I will survive but do I just want to survive or really live? I’m trying to figure out what it is I am willing to commit to for the next stage because when my time comes for it all to be over I don’t want any regrets.
I vowed I would write a blog every week and that it would be published on Thursday. That would force me to have a schedule and take the time to sit down and write. Once I start writing it flows. It’s the sitting down that I have a hard time with each week. I am on an intensive project right now which I have chosen to do so I feel the responsibility to give it my all. But in doing so it has also given me permission to procrastinate in my personal life. It frustrates me because the procrastination has not allowed me to meet that deadline. But when I do get that brief time to catch my breath something something says to me, “Enough.” And I finally sit down and write.
The most profound thing happens when I do write. My aha moments come rushing in and I don’t procrastinate on having those thoughts. And so I know that with all the energy I put into my professional life I will also continue to put into my writing every week. It will reassure me that even for a brief moment I will not be procrastinating in what I want to do for the rest of my life.