Give Yourself Some Advice

Horatio as a young man

Horatio as a young man

A few days ago I received an email from Horatio. He is an amazing filmmaker and gifted visual artist. We’ve wiled hours and days away talking about art and acting. He’s a treasure. His email was advice that he wrote to himself, the artist (what a great idea!) and with his permission, over the next three days, I will share it in segments. If you are impatient and want to read ahead, visit his blog or take a gander at his work at Here’s his email with the first portion of his Advice To Myself:

The evening after screening The Bath at Taos Shortz Film Festival in March, 2014, a very adept interviewer with the wonderful name Tamara Stackpoole (straight from Downton Abbey or Jane Austen?) asked if I had any advice to emerging filmmakers. My answer, as I recall:

“Let your teachers go. Just tell your own truth. Learn the craft – setup and payoff, three-act structure, and so on – and learn it well. But then let it go and tell your own truth, your vision. You’ll know it when you see it.”

When I woke the next morning, I realized that I had a lot more to say, and that it amounted to advice to myself. It follows:

You only can control yourself, which means your choices. You cannot control anything else.

Choose ethically, you will regret anything else.

The foundation of ethics is to respect others. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Be humble. Pride is the foundation of all the deadly sins, according to Dante and his mentor Virgil.

Your work is the essential ingredient of your life, an expression of your choices, your ethics. 

Connection to others is the essential mechanism of ethics.

A reciprocal connection of human to human (parent/child, student/teacher, artist/audience, friend/friend, or lover/lover) is the basic means to give yourself to others and to receive from them, to further yourself and others.

You will always be learning and practicing that kind of connection. You will never be finished. 

[to be continued]

Prompted by Horatio’s inspiration, I’ve started writing my version of Advice To Myself. It’s a great exercise and amounts to yanking the blankets on what matters to you. It begs the question: what will be your legacy? What might you write to yourself?

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Stand In The Cornfield

647. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Many years ago I painted a portrait of my father standing in a cornfield. It was an odd painting for me to do at the time as I’d stopped doing portraits years before. I just had to do it. I wasn’t working from a photograph; I just knew he had to be standing in a cornfield. It is a painting I never show. It is a painting of yearning fulfilled.

My father was born in a small farming town in Iowa and spent his adult life yearning to live in the place of his birth. He moved for work and then for love and although he knew where he wanted to be, he could not find a way to return. I put him in the cornfield because symbolically that was where he most wanted to be: in a small community, contained, where life made sense, where people knew where they fit and where people were not in so much of a hurry that they would stop and talk.

Yearning is a funny thing. Yearning is a necessary thing. Yearning is not what is missing; it is the space between where you are and where you want to be. Yearning can be fuel. It can help clarify what you want and energize your actions toward manifesting your desire. Or, it can twist your guts and make you bitter: unspent energy needs to do something and if it is not moving toward your fulfillment it will knot your belly and make your neck tense. Once in a class, I watched several people give speeches. Many put their energy into the speech and where poised, present. Many others were ungrounded and unconsciously pounded the podium or wiggled their legs; energy must have someplace to go.

Yearning can be proof of separation (“I don’t have what I want”) or proof of connectivity (“this is what I will create”). The difference lives in how you define yourself: if you are in this life looking for what you can get, your yearning will probably feel a lot like separation. If you are in this life living according to what you bring to it, your yearning will be an umbilical cord to what you will create and will nourish you in the creating.