I had to laugh at myself when I wrote the title for this post. As someone who has totally gone off the rails of our TwoEvilActors blog posting schedule in the past couple of weeks, where do I get off talking about discipline?
But I had kind of a revelation yesterday! It goes sorta like this…
1. I can be kind of a brat.
2. Living in the moment doesn’t mean being attached to the moment.
3. Discipline isn’t about pushing yourself when you feel driven, it’s about pushing yourself when you don’t want to do something, or when you feel like you can’t.
Let me unpack this a little bit.
1: Being a brat:…
This one time, my friend Phil and I were at Shari’s preparing to enjoy a feast. Sitting in the booth behind ours was a family with a 2 year old child, and this kid had somethin to SAY about it.
The kid’s Mom, with the patience of a Saint, was trying to get the kid to simply sit in the booth. As the Mom tried to gently slide this little punk down the vinyl seat towards the window end of the booth, the kid fought with all four limbs like a spider monkey and articulately said,
“I DON’T WANNA SIT THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Phil and I, in our very actor-y way, were absolutely fascinated, not annoyed by this little banshee-monster-devil-child, but fascinated. Such free self-expression! Such lack of inhibition! That kid had the stupidest objective in the world but by God she was pursuing it heart and soul. One of us, I don’t remember who, leaned forward and said,
“What if adults all acted like this whenever they had feelings?”
And then we both lost our minds. The world would go to shit, and nothing would ever get done. But a lot of the work that actors do is being in touch with those impulses and allowing them to live. After all, most stories that we tell through film/theater/television are not about the day that you repress or redirect your true feelings about your wife/best friend/bosss, they’re about the day that you let loose and then have to deal with the consequences.
The point is to find a balance between allowing your impulses to live but making choices about how you want to act on them. Both as an actor and as a human.
…What I’m trying to say here is that I KILLED A MAN. BLOG CONFESSIONAL TIME!!
Just kidding! No I didn’t. …..Or did I? This blog IS called Two EVIL Actors…..
…But seriously I didn’t. I really shouldn’t joke about these things. On to the next thing!
2. Being in the moment without being attached to the moment…
Those that know me can attest that I’m really not THAT MUCH of a brat, and that I have never killed a man. But for me, and I think for all of us, “living in the moment” can be kind of an intense experience…
Think about it: if you really allowed into your conscious experience everything going on in your body, mind, soul, emotional life, etc. for even ONE moment, it would be a lot to process.
Noooo!!! Don’t freak out little owl! Here’s the beautiful thing about the whole concept of “living in the moment”: There’s always another moment! You’re never going to run out of moments. Just because you allow yourself to truly go through an experience doesn’t mean you have to get attached to that experience and spiral down into an abyss of panic, fear, depression, or murderous rage. Just breathe. A new moment is waiting to rush into you. Literally.
3. Discipline is for the times when you DON’T feel motivated…
Since last we met, dear readers, I had an overwhelming whirlwind 3-day trip to Boise, Idaho (my place of origin), came back to LA sick as a dog, and slammed into the first week of the last half of the semester like a hurricane. Last week was a difficult one, but oh my GOD did I learn a lot.
First of all, despite the physical and mental stress I was under, my work actually reached a new level in my classes. In the process of training, whether you are training to be an actor or a distance runner or whatever, the progress can feel painstaking and gradual on a day-to-day basis. Rob Clare, our Shakespeare instructor this semester, told us, “Shakespeare isn’t hard–it’s just gradual.” And this lesson applies to all kinds of rigorous training. It is gradual.
And one day you might wake up and be totally sick and deeply exhausted and it forces you to just surrender to the experience and you realize, “Oh my God. I can just trust myself and let go and all of my hard work will still be there.”
And then a week later you wake up still totally sick and exhausted but you discipline yourself to show the fuck up mentally and physically and you realize, “Oh THIS is what discipline is. It’s putting in the work every single day whether you feel like starting or not. It’s trusting that on the other side of the pain or exhaustion is a new experience, and it’s worth it to get to the other side.”
Before, I viewed “discipline” as being motivated to do hard things. But for me as an actor, I think that discipline is the thing that grounds you in the practical WORK part of being a creative professional when you really feel like being a brat.
Again, it’s a balance. Creatively, it’s a balance between setting up a structure in which you can do the work and just allowing yourself to exist in the moment and follow your impulses. Personally, it’s a balance between disciplining yourself and indulging yourself…
That’s right y’all, I’m ending my LATE POST ABOUT DISCIPLINE with a message of self-indulgence. I’m a work in progress, people, and maybe I feel like being a brat today.
Have a great Wednesday night, friends. Treat yo self.