I was asked the most difficult question this weekend. That question was, "What do you do?" (This was a random man on the subway platform who struck up a conversation with me.)
I found myself stammering something like, "Well, I'm a Manager at the Paley Center for Media, but I'm also a professor at City College, and I work in theatre, sometimes as a director and choreographer, and I used to be a professional actor, and I Co-founded a children's theatre that I teach classes for...oh, and I'm writing this musical I adapted from..." In my opinion, I sounded like either a schizophrenic with a multiple personality disorder or like a person who doesn't sleep--neither of which I am. Being a New Yorker, my convoluted answer didn't seem to bother him, and we had a lovely chat. But, it made me stop and think about the last four months.
What do I do?
I guess what I do is work really hard...and, a lot. But contrary to popular belief, I am not a workaholic. What I am comes down to one word that starts with the letter "d" (no, not deranged): Disciplined.
That's right, I'm really, really disciplined. There was a time (and as a late-thirty-something who teaches K-College I can say this), there was a time when discipline was not only taught, but also valued. I don't mean discipline in the sense of behaving properly, I mean the discipline that gets you up at 6:00am to write a blog even if it's the last thing you feel like doing. Olympians have it, prima ballerina's have it and anyone who wants to succeed at a goal as difficult as this one has to have it.
I have one person to thank for teaching me discipline (sorry, Mom, not you): Mr. Booth. Mr. Booth was the director of The Holy Name Summer Theatre Camp, the theatre program I went to every summer during high school that whipped my raw and untrained theatrical instincts into substantial skills. Mr. Booth was one of those impassioned directors who was even-keeled and calm, but come tech week would shout, throw things and give speeches. One of his best speeches was about discipline. He would tell us all how important the theatre was and how we should be honored to be standing up on the stage sharing these great works. He would go on about how he had been at the theatre until midnight the night before, pulling costumes, and back at five a.m. the next day building sets, because he believed in the theatre. He made me believe that summer theatre camp was more than just a place to date and flirt with boys that didn't go to my high school--that we were doing something significant.
His lessons about discipline have never left me. They are with me when every bone in my body wants to collapse on the couch and watch the Millionaire Matchmaker Marathon rather than coordinate Helen rehearsals. They are with me when the third Percy Jackson book is waiting to be cracked open, and I have to head into the city for a music session with a Helen actor. They are with me on beautiful summer days when everyone is heading to the beach and I'm heading to my computer to do re-writes. They are with me when I am starving and sitting in front of a box of Dunkin Donuts Munchkins and there is nothing gluten-free to be found.
Being a workaholic--that's easy. Workaholics get a high from all-nighters, from digging into yet another pile of work and from burrowing themselves in their Blackberrys. Being disciplined--that's hard.
So, for the record--I'm no workaholic. But, I am on a mission. And this mission requires the utmost focus, discipline and perseverance...and an inner strength I didn't even know I had.
If you believe in focus, discipline and perseverance, stop reading this right now and go to our Kickstarter fundraising page and pledge $10!