A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.
- Henry David Thoreau
I came across this quote this morning. Seems well connected to the things I was blogging about yesterday. And about the things I've been working on for some time. Namely ceasing trying to be all things to all people. Lately things have been slow in terms of paying work. I recall the acting studio and the modest income it provided doing something that I often enjoyed. The modest income would be very welcome in these lean times. I quickly reminded myself that I need to make conscious, careful selections of activities, situations, and people to whom I devote my attention. And while I can teach acting, doing so involves me in a situation that diverts my energy from directing actors to coaching actors. I don't want a relationship with actors that requires me to motivate them to learn their craft. I want to focus on working with actors that are sufficiently self-motivated to learn their craft. Certainly there are always a few such actors in any studio, but to earn that modest income you have to coddle a lot of insecure, fearful and entitled wannabes. I can afford to leave that dynamic well alone.
Coaching acting is not all that separates the centered, serene me from the harried, fragmented me. I'm regularly bombarded by myriad requests for some form of personal involvement. The temptation is great to attend to first one thing and then another, passively and superficially. Or worse yet, with both barrels blazing in some situation that called for a pea shooter at most.
My life is enriched only when I commit myself to a deeper level of involvement, and to the few, rather than the many. To whatever extent I possess talent, it will shine forth only to the extent it's being nurtured, coddled, encouraged. I cannot nurture, coddle and encourage other aspiring artists while trying to offer the same to myself and to my family. I and my children provide quite enough resistance to loving growth, thank you very much. That is asking way too much of myself. When I am harried I become more the stern task-master than the encouraging nurturer. To expect that I will somehow find fluid support in an unbending mindset is a prime example of non-integrated thinking. Distraction promotes resistance - the bubbling brook. Still waters run deep. We must become immersed enough in a project or an experience to lose self-conscious reservations if we're to discover the real weight of our talent. We know ourselves fully only when we're able to let the talent within define the posture without. It's a bit of a chicken and egg conundrum. Though certainly not so black and white. Little by little, back to those baby steps, we practice allowing ourselves enough space to find our centers. The wonderful secret about being centered is we always have a center if only we allow ourselves to experience it. As we practice this, we begin to allow ourselves to experience our authentic selves.
Even now as I write, there's a child singing and a child crying at the breakfast table. There are email alerts sounding and phones ringing. There are appointments looming throughout the day. Perhaps I shall stop this entry here and tend to the rest of my wonderful life.