As I’m working on my screenplay, I’m listening to the language of The West Wing and the Hamilton soundtrack. The rhythm and beat of the words, and the power of that language, are inspiring. Not a single word or line is wasted. They all matter. It’s writing we should all aspire to as writers and seek out as audience members.
What do you watch and listen to when you want to be inspired to write dialogue?
It delights me to no end when a consulting client receives my draft deliverable of a business plan for their new program and their response is “this is amazing!” In this case the client is Carnegie Hall, and I’m working on helping them build an online community filled with content and resources that helps musicians become citizen-artists. Talk about a dream mashup of everything I love: art, activism, business, technology, and making the world a better place through building community. Updates coming soon with ways for you to get involved and access the resources yourself!
Jeff Goldblum blew my mind with his spoken word on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert when he recited this passage by George Bernard Shaw as the way he keeps his hopes up during the Trump administration:
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.” ~George Bernard Shaw
I was lucky to see Jeff Goldblum live with his band a few years ago at Rockwell Table & Stage in LA. My friend, Trevor, pointed out to me that Jeff Goldblum was playing here with his band on a regular basis. A couple week later I wandered in with a date after dinner in Los Feliz and it was a magical experience. (The guy didn’t last mostly because he didn’t enjoy Jeff Goldblum as much as I did, but my love of Jeff and his music certainly did.) I’ve been listening to and loving his music ever since, all thanks to my friend, Trevor. Give his new album, The Capitol Studios Sessions, a listen. It’s wonderful.
“Because once you hear the music, you can’t stand still.” ~Billy Crystal, 700 Sundays
Sometimes I’ll walk down the streets of New York City and literally feel the rhythm of the city in my heart. I used to think there was something wrong with me because I found it so hard, almost painful and impossible, to be still. Especially in New York. I just don’t sit well. I make myself sit for 18 minutes a day for my meditation, and then that’s really it. Now I know there was nothing wrong with me. I was just hearing the music of this place. And as Billy Crystal so wisely explains, once we hear that music, we can’t stand still. We have to move with it. And so I do. And I smile.
John Holiday’s music went straight to me heart this week when I went to see his recital as part of the Crypt Sessions at the Church of the Intercession in Hamilton Heights. I’m in awe. I can’t believe he doesn’t have an album yet. One has to be on the horizon. Also, his piano players Neeki Bey and Kevin J. Miller are just as incredible as John. Here’s a bit of John and Neeki for your listening pleasure:
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche
It can be hard to see the future so clearly while living in the present. We see change marching in our direction, and we want to adapt, we need to adapt. Others refuse to recognize it, and do everything we can to help others see what we see, hear what we hear, and they can’t or won’t.
Years ago, Brian told me that I see what I see and I know what I know, and that’s what’s made all the difference in my life. That’s the basis from which I had to make my decisions, and so I did. I stopped worrying about what other people thought about my choices. I stopped worrying about being judged or criticized or misunderstood. I just decided to do the best I could with what I had and what I knew.
And you know what? It was the best decision I ever made. I chose to be free.
So you go right on dancing and believing and creating. Let your life be a beautiful expression of exactly who you are.
“I promise if you keep searching for everything beautiful in this world, you will eventually become it.” ~Tyler Kent White
Where do you go to find beauty? A museum or gallery? A concert? Nature? Social media?
Wherever you go to seek beauty, I want you to find it and bring it so deeply into your being that you become exactly what you seek. Have a beautiful Monday.
“Why do you write like you’re running out of time?” ~Aaron Burr, “Non-Stop” from the musical Hamilton
Sometimes the best thing you can do with your neuroses is accept them and work within them. I think that might be the secret to life.
Hamilton has a way of teaching us so many lessons, about history, economics, and life. There are many ways to describe Alexander Hamilton and I think there is one that stands above all others—non-stop. Something in him knew his life would be short; he had seen so much loss at such a young age. He understood how fleeting life can be. He wrote and worked and loved and lived like he was running out of time because he was. We all are.
I’m not suggesting that this is the only way to live. I’m not even suggesting that it’s a good idea to focus so maniacally on what we’ve lost as Hamilton did. I just know that this is how my mind works. I see time ticking by and do what I can to make the most of it because I can’t make it slow down. This is what keeps me moving forward, especially in times of difficulty.
I’ve never been good at waiting and biding my time. No one I know would ever call me patient. I sit for 18 minutes a day meditating, and that’s about what I can handle. I don’t dwell on things I try that don’t work out—and that goes for baking a pie to landing a job and everything in between. I learn from my experiences and try something else. “Netflix and chill” is never going to be a phrase I embrace (and by that I mean the clean version, friends). I wish I could; I just can’t do it and be happy. And I like to be happy so I embrace my work, my friends, and my curiosity. Those are the things that matter to me.
We’ve just got this one life, and no one is ever going to find a way to manufacture more time. Time is the most equitable resource on Earth. We all get the same 24 hours. Let’s use them in ways that mean something to us. Hamilton certainly did.
There are two kinds of happiness: the one that comes from instant gratification and the one that comes from the slow slog toward a desired goal. The first makes us happy in the here and now, but it usually doesn’t last long. The second makes us happy when viewed through the arc of life but in the here and now can be difficult and uncomfortable. I’ve found that I need a good balance of both to truly feel good about life.
Art, music, good food, time with my friends, my dog, and working out are all things that make me immediately happy. Writing, working on my entrepreneurial ideas, and learning something new that I’m not yet particularly good at fall into that second bucket. It’s not that I don’t get any joy from them in the near-term; it’s just that to feel truly happy about them I need to look at them through a longer lens and with a goal in mind.
Knowing about this balance helps me figure out how to allocate my time, effort, and energy to be happy at this moment and to ensure I’m happy down the line, too.