I watched my favorite program today: CBS Sunday Morning. It's always chock full of fascinating stories. Today I was blown away by writer Arthur Laurents. You just might recognize some of the stories he's either written or been associated with (the first two in this short list are my favorite movies of all time): West Side Story; Gypsy; The Way We Were; La Cage Aux Folles and Alfred Hitchcock's, Rope.
When West Side Story was created for Broadway it was with the genius of Arthur Laurents' story, Leonard Bernstein's music, Stephen Sondheim's lyrics, and Jerome Robbins' choregraphy. Oh to be a fly on that wall... Arthur is 91 years old now and, as he puts it, works eight days a week. He recently finished refashioning West Side Story written in 1957 for 2009 Broadway. What's different about it? It includes some of The Sharks dialogue being spoken and sung in Spanish. Simple yet brilliant. Click here for Josh Getlin's story about this in the LA Times.
What inspired me most about Arthur (pics are of him then and now) is his extreme confidence and his belief that you should tell it like it is, plain and simple; no need for sugar-coating your opinions to please others or to be PC. If you don't tell it like it is, you must be afraid of something and you might want to take a look at what it is you're afraid of. His other brilliant observation is that all that matters is being in the moment and doing the work you know you're meant to do. "Reviews" (read: REJECTIONS!!) are completely meaningless; they simply don't matter. As he puts it, "If you listen to your critics, you're dead."
If you ask anyone who knows me they'll tell you I'm not one to shy away from my opinions. But what they may not realize is I tone things down all the time in order not to hurt someone's feelings or not to appear crass. To be honest, it wears me out. It's tiring and inauthentic. Here's a question in poem form to illustrate the prospect of "full disclosure":
What would it take to fearlessly
lay it all out for all the world to see
like Natalie Wood as Gypsy Rose Lee?
Don't worry. I won't be using that in either a novel or a song! I don't know the answer, but I'm committed to finding out. From this point forward, I promise to step away from my fears and trust myself more. I'm pulling those nasty eggshells out from between my perfectly manicured toes and walking forcefully in the direction of my dreams. Hopefully, long before I'm 91 I'll be a power to be reckoned with!
Where are the places in life where you sugar-coat your opinions or walk on egg shells? And, as Dr. Phil would say, "How's that working for you?"