Season 3 – epiBLOG 4:

Remember those posters in elementary and secondary school that would be plastered all over the school’s walls with some celebrity holding a book? Apparently, that was supposed to inspire young, inquisitive minds to enjoy the written word.

Those of you who have been keeping up with my blog over the past year know that I’m a big advocate of reading self-help books and screenplays. What can I say? I’m an entrepreneurial filmmaker who writes scripts. I need all of the outside influence that I can get.

Today’s topic is a review of the book The Power of Now and the screenplay Sideways, and how they relate to your success as an artist.

Self-help books — I understand, some of you think they are “cheesy.”  But honestly, they can be very informative and insightful.

The self-help book that I decided to read for the month of January is so perfectly titled The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Yeah, I know, it sounds all “spiritual” and “new age” when I appear to be anything but. Nevertheless, I’m committed to reading one self-help book a month in order to grow as a person and entrepreneur, so I figured I would kick off the New Year with this one!

I picked up this book in early January because I was just at the time fully realizing part of my ongoing adult obstacles. Part of my life’s journey has felt like an ongoing marathon with strategically placed hurdles for me to jump over at every 100 meter interval (or 328 feet for my Red, White, and Blue fellow Americans).

I realized that I’m either so focused on the future that the present doesn’t seem like it’s worth enjoying… or I’m so focused on the past, in which I case I’m spending most of my time beating myself up for my mistakes, bad choices, and embarrassing moments, that the present seems almost impossible to even experience.

I’m an extremely ambitious person. Achievement is my number one core value, followed by love. I’ve won awards throughout my life for endeavors that I set out to accomplish. Everything ranging from Basketball, Track & Field, Teaching at the college level, to Filmmaking/Screenwriting. Although the awards are appreciated and loved, it’s never enough until success looks like I want it to look.

The problem with this way of thinking is that I’ve become obsessed with the “future me” and the “future life” that I feel is waiting for me if I’m willing to do the work right now. I’m willing to sacrifice enjoyment in the now for the glorious future that awaits me.

Tolle pointed out in his book that the future, nor the past, actually exist. They are both illusions. The only thing that is absolutely real is this very moment. I’ve never understood that concept before. Telling a goal-oriented person to not think about the future was somewhat of a disturbing experience for me. However, as I continued to read and dive deeper into the meaning behind his words, I finally came to understand what “enjoying the journey” means instead of focusing on the “destination.”

Artists are constantly creating and we use a combination of our minds, inspiration, and gut to create what we feel just has to come out of us. I’m NOT at all saying to NOT create goals. What I’ve learned from reading that book is to focus on the actions that I’m taking in the now and to not focus on the results of those actions that I feel should materialize in the future.

So, set career goals, but be present for the actions that you are taking now. Enjoy the actions that you are taking now. Enjoy the people that surround you and the moment that surrounds you. This doesn’t make you any less ambitious; instead it allows you to be open for more possibilities of creativity to come your way. Being stressed out about the future cuts off the flow of creativity.

This brings me to the spectacular script Sideways by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor. I saw the movie starring Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church years ago. I thought it was brilliant. However, it’s always fun to read scripts to films that you love – especially if you’re a screenwriter who is always looking to improve your craft.

Sideways is about a divorced eighth grade English teacher who takes his friend for a one week getaway to California wine country just to have fun before his friend has to tie the knot seven days later. I love this script because it was honest about humanity. It shows how we create and bring about our own problems and frustrations in life, and then complain about them.

The protagonist Miles desires to be a successful published author and to have a successful relationship. He really doesn’t want to only be a divorced English teacher. Yet, he creates several self-sabotaging events in his life. Jack, Miles’ best friend, has a wonderful woman whom he loves and is a week away from getting married to her. Nevertheless, Jack’s goal is to sleep with another woman before he says “I do.”

Humans say we want one thing, but our actions dictate the complete opposite, and we get pissed off at the world, at our agents, at the entrepreneurial process that many of us artists have to undergo in order to succeed. I say to you, continue to be human, but when you are ready to see changes in your life, look for the changes that you have the power to create.

Today’s LESSON is to take a look in the mirror, and to then go within yourself to figure out what to do in order to make great things happen.

FUN ASSIGNMENT: I definitely recommend reading The Power of Now, reading the script Sideways, and then finally watching the film to that script.  See how experiencing these tools will help to enrich your life.

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