I’m experiencing a joy I never thought I’d have.

I’m going to admonish those of you who create, or perform, or do anything at all.  Don’t just do it to prove how good you are.  Find better reasons to do your art than gauging your right to do it, or even your right to exist and take up space.


The question of your value won’t go away just because you want it to.  You have to get it settled and out of your head somehow.  There are several ways to do that.



How To Fight Power 


If you believe in social justice or reform, you can work for change all you want, but the moment you become big or powerful enough to threaten a real vested interest, they will immediately make every effort to destroy you.  Here’s how powerful people fight:  as soon as they recognize something is a threat, they smash it.  This happens all the time in economics, when big businesses first attempt to buy, then attempt to drive into the ground, any small business that threatens them.


The odds for those who want to make changes seem overwhelming.  How can you fight an enemy who is so powerful that they can squash you?  

Most people would agree that the world would be a worse place if someone they loved wasn’t in it.  And if anyone loves you, anyone at all, then it’s clear that the world would be a worse place if you weren’t in it.  Less beautiful, less interesting.


If you are mentally healthy enough to believe this obvious truth, then turn it around.  The world is better with you in it.  More beautiful, more interesting.


When I imagine a terrible future for our world, I’m usually not in it.  Or if I am, I’m a victim, and very passive.  This is telling, because it suggests a way forward.

I don’t go to music for the same things anymore.  That leaves me wondering.  What am I going to music for?


I once gave one of my books to a friend to edit.  He returned the book back to me fully edited.  When I asked him how he liked the book, he couldn’t tell me much about it.


I took my family to Universal Studios this Spring.  We were especially looking forward to the Harry Potter parks.  When I got there, I was hoping to feel the magic.


But at fifty years old I can no longer submit to make-believe the way I used to.  I don’t have the need to live in a fantasy anymore, because I like my life.  And so the park just seemed like a park, and I was feeling very down.


I heard a story about Robert de Niro that fascinates me.  He came into an audition one time and read for a part.  The producer remarked that he was astounded by De Niro because while all he seemed to be doing was reading the lines, it was utterly convincing.


I find it interesting that De Niro ’s performances are always “him.”  He doesn’t seem to be “acting” that differently in each movie.  And yet the characters he plays could never be mistaken for one another.


How does he do that? 

Every once in a while someone will give me a very nice compliment about my abilities, tell me I’m great.  But the truth is that such compliments are very confusing to me.  What’s confusing about being called “great” at something?

My favorite scene in Saving Private Ryan is where the Nazi soldier is fighting Mellish, the Jewish soldier.  The Nazi subdues Mellish by literally quieting him with soothing words so that Mellish will no longer resist the knife being stabbed into his heart. Obviously I’m not rooting for the Nazi, but I found an important lesson in the scene.


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