In every person’s life, there is a still, small voice that tries to guide you to a wonderful calling − a destiny.
A calling that you, and only you, were put on this earth to fulfill. Near silent, this voice is powerful enough to lift thoughts, dreams and visions to a higher ground. In ancient Rome, this inner voice was called “genius.” A tutelary inner-mentor to guide your aspirations forward − to be the best writer, politician, businessman, inventor, doctor, lawyer, painter, dancer, father, mother or whatever calling you were placed on this earth to fulfill.
Right or Wrong?
Each of you reading this right now has someplace you’d rather be; some job you’d rather have; something else you’d rather be doing. Your dreams and aspirations of bygone years are mingled with fond, longing memories of an unrealized life.
Right or wrong?
That small, still inner voice?
Sadly, for most people, this voice is muted, or completely silenced − sometimes for a lifetime. Silenced by an unyielding, implacable, despicable and evil, yes evil, force. Instead of listening to this inner voice and striving to achieve something great, you end up doing something totally different than you hoped or dreamed, or were put on this earth to do. How did it happen?
You drifted into boring and safe. That’s right. You drifted into doing something boring and safe that ensnares you. It sucks you in and imprints upon your consciousness the message that you’re too boring, lazy, incompetent, or incapable of reaching out for and capturing your dream. Boring becomes your life − not a dream but a dreary, monotonous, unending circle of boring. You take a boring job, make some boring money, pay some boring bills, and boringly exist.
Boring is a Force.
But it’s not “THE FORCE.” Yes, “THE FORCE” is what’s really holding you back. And what we’re talking about is the …
Inner Deadbeat Force
We all have it. It infects everyone.
Every time you start, or try to start, to listen and change your life for the better, this evil scourge kicks in. Your Inner Deadbeat. It manifests itself in many nefarious ways: Rationalization, procrastination, drugs, alcohol, depression, and despair. Any weaselly way out works just fine for the Inner Deadbeat, as long as you remain mired and mucked-up in a life unfulfilled and unlived. The Inner Deadbeat fights, no holds barred, down and dirty, to win.
How to Win?
Are there ways to overcome this diabolically evil force? Are there ways to break on through to the other side − the better side?
To not only search for meaning in life, but experience a meaningful life? Are there ways to battle resistance and win, in your life of business and business of life?
And an honorary citizen of Sparta and bestselling author of “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles,” Steven Pressfield, will guide us to some of these answers. “The War of Art” has been hailed as …
“A vital gem … a kick in the ass.” – Esquire
“Yes, The War of Art is hell. But Steven Pressfield is our Clausewitz who shows how you too can battle against The Four Horsemen of The Apologetic: sloth, inertia, rationalization and procrastination. Shakespeare, Rembrandt and Beethoven all are proof of what you can do with talent and General Pressfield.” – Frank Deford, Author and NPR Commentator
But First …
I’m a deadbeat.
A real doofy-doozy, ding-a-ling-dinger deadbeat.
You are too (probably, or have suspicions) if you’re reading an article titled “How to Defeat Your Inner Deadbeat.” But stick with me. We’re going to learn and have some fun.
Oh No … Not Him Too!
I have this great novel in me. I use the word “great” humbly, not pompously or arrogantly, but quite conservatively. It’s a bestseller for sure. Not the “Great American Novel” but the “Great Global Novel.” Harry Potter potential all over it. Nothing will get in its way. NOTHING! Except …
May the Force Be With You … NOT
Every time I try to start writing, a force holds me back; an all-powerful force that kicks me back like a horrified donkey getting sucked up in an F-5 tornado. I’ve battled this force unsuccessfully for over a year now (okay maybe two or three years) and I’m losing ground fast. So, as any person with worldly ambitions and initiative would, I sought expert counsel and guidance. I went down to the …
… to meet with a couple of nattering nabobs of n’er do-wells (friends). Not much dining ever goes on at the Whiner Diner, just whining, drinking, and mostly non-visionary, rectal-polyp thinking.
My old “Shoot the Donkey” co-writer friend Donkey O’Tee was in town. He was finishing up his bestselling book tour for “Pompously Obfuscating on Purpose.” Unfortunately, since I arrived later than normal, Donkey O’Tee was pretty much in his hooves (tipsy). I explained my problem. A terrible force was preventing me from writing my masterpiece. I asked Donkey O’Tee how he broke through the creative blocks (not to mention typing with hooves) to write his book? Though his speech was somewhat brayed (slurred), his only lucid suggestion was to “get in touch with my inner donkey.
In Touch With Your Inner Donkey?
Good advice. I thought about it. But no, it didn’t really apply. I’m pretty much always in touch with my inner donkey …. both of them.
I turned to my other friend at the table; a person known far and wide in the business world as the most exasperating, frustrating, obdurately obnoxious, perfidious perorating purveyor of corporate gobbledygook in known human history − and probably most unknown history too. He could unleash a tornadic swirl of immeasurably long and undecipherable words lasting upwards of five minutes without taking a breath, or making any sense whatsoever. Not even a minuscule pause, which, in my opinion, is always his most singular accomplishment, as I usually have no idea as to what he’s trying to say. He has the most impressive repertoire of corporate gobbledygook I’ve ever heard and uses every acronym known to mankind and possibly most extraterrestrials; a corporate gobbledygook automaton of epic proportions. Because of this talent, I dubbed him …
“CAL 9000” (Corporate Automaton Linguist − with 9000 pre-programmed acronyms for release upon the slightest provocation (such as breathing).
However, CAL 9000 should not ever be confused with HAL 9000 (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) of “2001 Space Odyssey” fame.
Hal had a personality.
I politely asked Cal 9000 how his new company was coming along. (He was recently named CEO and quickly thereafter Chairman of the Bored.)
“You mean my market-leading, universal, enterprise-content application tool with extensible, real-time, interactive, scalable, sorta seamless, multi-alphanumerical particularities supported by multi-colored platforms?”
Note to Reader: To translate the above corporate gobbledygook, please take a deep breath and visualize … “Yes,” said I.
“Well, the market is a little slow right now. I’m repositioning our positioning to position our repositioning for future retro-strategic growth. But let’s get back to you. This force, this thing holding you back; it probably comes from your Inner Muse. It’s trying to alert you that what you’re trying to do is crap. You? Write a novel? HA HA HA! − Crap. The more powerful the force or resistance is, the more you ought to back off. Do something else. I mean when I bought this new company, there was absolutely no resistance − internal or external; I knew it. A deal made in heaven.”
“Thanks for the insight and non-support.”
“Let’s drink and increase our deep thinking,” said Cal 9000.
“No. I’m trying to accomplish something. Don’t try to get me inebriated. I have this vision. I need to bring it to life.”
“Well, if you’re going to be an ultra-ugly, gluteus maximus cranium about it, why don’t you find someone like you? Someone that’s been through some of the same experiences as you, but has actually accomplished something − unlike you. Ask the person how they did it.
Donkey O’Tee brayed assent.
“Yes. Find an ex taxicab driver, basketball player, truck driver, farm worker, bartender, oilfield worker, fruit picker, New York ad agency copywriter that had an epiphany when he was writing a dog food ad that in turn led him to be a novelist and screenwriter,” Cal 9000 said, in less than one second.
“That’s pretty close to me… not. The likelihood of there being a person alive such as that is about the same odds as Warren Buffet and Jimmy Buffet being related. Or maybe Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggert being cousins.
But – guess what?
I was wrong. There was a person out there almost exactly like Cal 9000 described. And he was going to help us define, defeat, and
out of our Inner Deadbeat.
The term “Shoot the Donkey” refers to a classic scene in the movie “Patton” (based upon a true event) where the Third Army convoy gets critically held up in battle on a bridge, by a cart-pulling donkey that has stopped and refuses to budge, totally blocking the bridge. Enemy aircraft is strafing the convoy. Life and death are at stake. An MP struggles with the donkey and the owner, trying to get them out of the way, but makes no headway.
The entire Third Army halts for this recalcitrant donkey.
General George Pattonroars up, leaps out of his jeep, whips out his ivory-handled pistol, shoots the donkey, and immediately has it hurled off the bridge, removing the obstacle. That classic scene not only revealed Patton’s character in a cinematic way,but also embodies the great leadership principle of taking decisive action to remove all obstacles to fulfill one’s mission.
ENTER: Steven Pressfield
Steven Pressfield has been a New York City taxicab driver, truck driver, US Marine, oil-rig worker, bartender, fruit picker, and a $150-a-week copywriter for a New York City advertising agency, Benton & Bowles. One day while rewriting the “just-add-water” text for the back label of Gravy Train dog food, Mr. Pressfield asked himself, “Shouldn’t I be doing something a little more worthwhile?” What followed? International bestselling books and screenplays.
Mr. Pressfield has written or co-written 34 screenplays, and is the author of international bestsellers “The Legend of Bagger Vance” (also a movie), “Gates of Fire, An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae,” “Tide of War,” “The Afghan Campaign,” “Virtues of War” and “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Battles.”
”Gates of Fire,An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae,” has been included in the curriculum of the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy and is on the Commandant’s Reading List for the Marine Corps.
In September 2003, the city of Sparta made Mr. Pressfield an honorary citizen. Steve Kayser (Steven K): Welcome! Great to talk to you.
Steven Pressfield: Thank you.
Steve K: Great first name. Anyway, I’m looking for some help. In your book, the “War of Art,” you name “Resistance” (with a capital “R”) as a force, an implacable foe. Evil. Toxic. It sounds like the same thing I’m struggling with right now, but I call it my Inner Deadbeat. I’m sure it’s the same thing. How do you define “Resistance?”
Steven: Just the way you described it above. Instead of “The Force Be With You” it’s “The Force Be Against You” anytime you try to achieve something positive. The self-sabotaging force we all seem to have. Resistance stops us from living our dreamed-of life. Resistance is particularly strong in creative and business people. The person that dreams of writing a great novel, starting a great business, losing weight or breaking away from corporate boredom to serve a greater cause, all struggle mightily with resistance.
Steve K: About the “novel writing” thing; I’ll want to follow up with you later (at the end of this interview). I have an idea on that. What are some examples of activities that bring out Resistance?
Steven: How about a list in no particular order?
1) The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.
2) The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.
3) Any diet or health regimen.
4) Any program of spiritual advancement.
5) Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.
6) Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.
7) Education of every kind.
8) Any act of political, moral, or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.
9) The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others.
10) Any act that entails commitment of the heart. The decision to get married, to have a child, or to weather a rocky patch in a relationship.
11) The taking of any principled stand in the face of potential reprisal.
“Any act which disdains short-term gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity. Any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any act of these types will elicit Resistance.” – – Steven Pressfield, War of Art
Steve K: How does Resistance operate?
Steven: Resistance is a liar. Resistance is relentless. Resistance is destructive. Resistance is creative. It finds ways − reasonable ways − for you to avoid doing the very thing you should be doing.
Steve K: How does it do that?
Steven: One way is rationalization. Coming up with all kind of reasons not to start. Waiting for your health to get better, the right moment, the right opportunity, the right partner, etc. This leads to procrastination. Procrastination serves its devious agenda. Rationalize and Procrastinate. They become bad habits.
Steve K: What are some of the ways Resistance manifests itself?
Steven: Remember I said it’s evil. Toxic. Protean − a shape shifter. It can manifest itself in many ways. Depression. Despair. Alcohol and drug abuse. Overeating or overindulging in any short-term pleasure at the expense of long-term positive growth.
Steve K: You have a rule of thumb …
The Resistance Rule of Thumb
“The more important a call or an action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.
Steve K: How did you come up with that?
Steven: Life experience. Lots of it. For example, I was a screenwriter in LA when the idea for “The Legend of Bagger Vance” came to me. As a book, not a screenplay. Remember I was a screenwriter. But not just any book … a book about golf. My first novel. First novels usually take forever to get published and realize very little financial gain, if any. Not much chance of success there. Resistance fired up the fear engine. But … the Muse grabbed me. So I did it.
Steven K: And … it ended up being a bestseller, both commercially and critically acclaimed, and later made into a movie. Steven: Yes.
“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example. ” – Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894)
Steve K: You state in your book that Resistance only strikes in one direction.
Steven: Yes. Down. Never up.
Steve K: Resistance wants you to take the low road? Example?
Steve: Yes. If you’re working to find a cure for a disease, or to eradicate poverty, and decide that you’d rather be driving a cab in Cincinnati, Resistance won’t stand in your way.
“Resistance only strikes in one direction … down.”
“Take the low road!” – Resistance
Steven K: How do you start to overcome resistance?
Steven: Facing death is one way.
Steven K: Uh … I’ll pass on that one. But, what do you mean?
Steven: How about this example: a woman finds out she is going to die of cancer in six months. She quits her job immediately. She goes to a hospice (or – insert any life long dream here), and volunteers to help other dying people. She’d always dreamed of helping others. Everyone thinks she’s crazy, friends and family alike. But she’s happier than she’s ever been. And P.S. …
Steve K: P.S. what?
Steven: Her cancer goes into remission.
“When we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.” – Sogyal Rinpoch
Remember Tom Laughlin? He starred in the movie “Billie Jack.” He now works with cancer patients. I heard him speak once, and he said (paraphrasing), The minute a person finds out they have cancer, everything changes. What was important seconds ago to them now no longer is. Everything changes.
When it happens, people think back to unrealized dreams. Think back on their unfulfilled dreams of being a musician, painter, farmer, or dancer. Maybe cancer is caused by not following your path − your dreams − what you should have, or should be doing.
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” – – M. Scott Peck
Steve K: How do you defeat resistance? Defeat this Inner Deadbeat? How do you start?
Steven: By starting. There’s no magic in the answer. But there’s magic in the start.
Wonderful things happen when you just do it. Mysterious things happen. Ideas pop up from nowhere. Happy accidents occur. People appear in your life at the very right time.
It’s a beautiful thing.
It’s like tapping into this vast collection of creative possibilities just waiting to be discovered. Those possibilities are already out there. Right now. Waiting for you, or someone like you, to discover them.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” – Albert Einstein
Steve: Just start? That’s it? That’s all there is to it?
Steven: Yes. But you have to be a professional. Not a weekend warrior. Do it as a profession, not an avocation. Not a weekend warrior. Have a hard hat, hard-head, lunch-pail mentality. Think like a professional. It’s an attitude shift. Show up for work every day. Rain, sleet, snow, sunshine. Then work every day. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t collected a check yet. Just keep at it. The money will come. But be prepared for adversity, failures, and criticism along the way. It will come too.
Steven K: Example?
Steven: The first screenplay I had made into a movie was “King Kong Lives.” I thought it was going to be a box office smash.
Steven K: And?
Steve: Variety magazine reviewed it like this, “We hope writers Steven Pressfield and Ronald Shusett are not their real names … for their parents’ sake.” I learned from it. Don’t take it personal. Move on.
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Sir Winston Churchill
Steven K: How do you do it? Write?
Steven: I put my boots on to write. I say a prayer and invoke the Muse, as the ancient Greeks did, humbly asking for aid to open up the creative channels. Then I just do it.
The hardest part is sitting down.
Let me say that again. The hardest part is sitting down.
I keep at it until I’m done for the day. It can be good … or bad. The main thing is to just do it
Steven K: Final thoughts? Steven: Each person is destined to do something specific that only they can do. Follow your inner voice; just do it.
“Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sun-dial in the shade?” – Benjamin Franklin
Steven: If you don’t, you’re not only hurting yourself, your hurting others by not helping enrich our world. By not sharing your gift. Do it and don’t quit no matter what.
None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Steve: “The War of Art” (also available in MP3) by Steven Pressfield, is a timeless classic. Eloquent, elegant, quick, slick, easy to read, transformatively easy to understand. I very rarely rave about a book, but this book is raveable.
One last thing, Steven, Let me run this book idea by you I mentioned earlier.
(funny thing about silence … it can be real quiet.)
“Here begins homo ignoramus” – Immanuel Velikovsky – “Worlds in Collision”
Steve: My bestselling, “great global novel” concept. It’s about this tortured soul who finds redemption and meaning in a baskagolf tournament.
(I’m sure the continuing silence indicates he’s impressed with the depth and breadth of my shallowness.) Steve: Baskagolf. It’s a new game I invented. A combination of basketball and golf. (Hitting a little white ball doesn’t take much skill and really, it’s not very manly now is it?) I’ll admit, I may have slightly cribbed the title from you, it’s called …
Steve: So what do you think?
Steve: Hey! Would a real Spartan do something like that?
“Although extraordinary valor was displayed by the entire corps of Spartans and Thespaians, yet bravest of all was declared the Spartan Dienekes. It is said that on the eve of battle, he was told by a native of Trachis that the Persian archers were so numerous that, when they fired their volleys, the mass of arrows blocked out the sun. Dienekes, however, undaunted by this prospect, remarked with a laugh, ‘Good. Then we’ll have our battle in the shade.'” – Herodotus Histories
The world is in a depressingly precarious condition right now – one crisis away from a global meltdown.
ECONOMY HAVE YOU WORRIED?
The US is borrowing $435 million dollars – per hour. How long can that insanity go on? 94 million American workers don’t have jobs. How long can that be sustained?
Been to a work meeting where everyone seemed on edge – arguing and backstabbing each other over precious resources, strategy or just plain surviving? If you have a job, you probably have.
PROBLEMS TOO BIG – TOO HIGH?
Our times are piled high with difficulty and uncertainty. Stress and anxiety. Barbaric ISIS terrorists who revel in finding new, evil, disgustingly satanic ways of killing people. Sometimes problems seem too big to get your arms around and too high to climb. It’s easy to get down. Easier to get angry at the world for all the injustices done to you. And others.
TOO HARD TO GRASP?
But maybe, just maybe, if you watch the video below, you might come away with …
Frederick Marx is an internationally acclaimed, Oscar and Emmy nominated director/writer with 35 years in the film business. He was a recipient of a Robert F. Kennedy Special Achievement Award and his film HOOP DREAMS played in hundreds of theaters nationwide after winning the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. It was the first documentary ever chosen to close the New York Film Festival, and it was on over 100 “Ten Best” lists nationwide and was named Best Film of the Year by critics Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel, Gene Shalit, and Ken Turran and by the Chicago Film Critics Association. Ebert also named it Best Film of the Decade. Hoop Dreams is one of the highest grossing non-musical documentaries in United States history.
SAVE THE KIDS – GIVE THEM UP
What an amazing experience it was, talking to someone like Frederick, who dedicates his life to making a difference in this world – come hell or high water. I originally wanted to interview him because I was a huge fan of Hoop Dreams and wanted to sideways subtly pitch him on a basketball story I’d penned – Acceptance Bridge. But, as we started our discussion, the Journey From Zanskar came up. It stopped me in my tracks. Not just the technical details and difficulties of filming and living at approximately 20,000 feet, but the the story of giving up your kids to save your culture – and them.
The Journey From Zanskar is one of the most compelling true stories you will ever hear. So, when Frederick sent me a note that he was giving away the film “Journey from Zanskar,” for free, I had to pass it on to you. The film has been released in theaters in the U.S. and France, and has played on TV in New Zealand. It received the Best Documentary award at the European Spiritual Film Festival in Paris.
Zanskar is one of the last remaining original Tibetan Buddhist societies with a continuous untainted lineage dating back thousands of years. In nearby Tibet and Ladakh, in Sikkim, Bhutan, and Nepal, traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture is either dead already or dying. The horror of Chinese government design in Tibet is being matched by the destruction of global economics elsewhere. Zanskar, ringed by high Himalayan mountains in northwest India, one of the most remote places on the planet, has been safe until now. But that’s changing. In 3-5 years a road connecting Padum, the heart of Zanskar, with Leh, the heart of neighboring Ladakh, will be finished. The route which previously took up to two days by car will take only 4-5 hours. As economic growth descends on Zanskar it will bring with it an end to this unbroken Buddhist social tradition. Would the native language, culture, and religious practice be able to survive?
WHO IS THAT GUY IN THE ROBE?
Frederick also wants to recognize one of the people in the film – the Dalai Lama – and recognize his upcoming 80th birthday on July 6, 2015.
Journey from Zanskar features the Dalai Lama himself and is narrated by Richard Gere. The story concerns two monks who take 17 children from Zanskar to lower India in order to help preserve their dying Tibetan culture. The story is framed as one illustration of the monks’ ongoing commitment to fulfill their Boddhisattva vows.
Now, a little about this amazing story, in Frederick’s words.
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
“How far would you go to save your dying culture? Sometimes you have to give up your children in order to save them.”
“Those two statements serve as “taglines” for JOURNEY FROM ZANSKAR – each of them describing the heart of the film. But the film didn’t start out with those as the central ideas. It took a long journey to arrive at the simplicity of those two statements.
“JOURNEY FROM ZANSKAR began in 2004 when an old friend called to ask for my help in supporting the Stongde monks of Zanskar. “Zanskar? Where the hell is that?” Even the name seemed forgotten. An Indian finger poking into the heart of central Asia, bounded by Tibet (China) on one flank and Pakistan on the other, Zanskar almost reaches Afghanistan. Bounded by towering Himalayan mountains, this high altitude desert sits on a valley floor of 12,000 feet. “Little Tibet” it’s sometimes called.
“Mountains? Buddhists? Dying culture? Sounds good to me…”
“In April 2004 I sat around my kitchen table in San Francisco with Barry Weiss and Curt Jones – two of the key principals who originated the project. We talked through an initial plan to film Tenzin Choegyal’s long-awaited visit to the seven ancient monasteries of Zanskar in July. Better known as the youngest brother of the Dalai Lama, TC (as he is called) is recognized as the reincarnation of Ngari Rinpoche – the spiritual leader of all the monasteries of Western Tibet. As such, he is revered and beloved, despite his own skepticism on the subject. We were also hopeful that the Dalai Lama himself would visit Zanskar in August. Seemed like an auspicious time for a Zanskar story.
“Like many of the best-laid plans, none of this ever happened. I arrived in Delhi in early July with my crew of one – cameraman Nick Sherman – and two helpers: Curt Jones and his stepson Christian Kakowski. For reasons still unclear to me, TC had cancelled his trip. It was a huge disappointment – not only had our story evaporated but, having learned a great deal about Ngari Rinpoche, I was really disappointed not to meet him.
“Nevertheless, we flew to Leh, the capital of much better known Ladakh, and spent a few days getting acclimated, thinking about what else to shoot. We spent some time at Helena Norberg Hodge’s wonderful Farm Project – kind of a reverse Peace Corps. (Foreigners come there to get educated by the locals in organic farming and cooperative cultural practices.) Then we left relatively Westernized Ladakh for far more remote Zanskar. En route with Geshe Lobsang Yonten I learned that he planned to take 15 children to a Tibetan school in Manali that Fall by trekking overland through 17,000 foot Shinku Pass. “That’s our through-line!” I thought.
“We started filming right away as Geshe Yonten and Lobsang Dhamchoe began visiting families who wanted to send their children away to school. Those moments with families are rich, complex, and absolutely heart-rending.
As a parent, what would you discuss with a man who’s going to take one of your children away, possibly forever? Struggling even to feed your children, you certainly would want your child to have a chance at a better life. But at the price of not seeing them again for 10, 15, maybe 20 years?
The monks themselves had been through a similar process – leaving home for 10 years while they were still kids. They knew the difficulties but they also knew what an education could do to change a life.
“Following that first visit, Nick and I returned to India for the trek in early October. On our drive from Leh to Padum we confided all our fears to Geshe. It was a long list. There were dangers both for us and the kids – altitude, cold, dehydration, exhaustion… Smiling, he told us not to worry. Unlike Zanskari Buddhists who don’t seem to stress out about anything, we worried.
“The story of the trek as it appears in the film is our story too. We were right there with them. We shared the uncertainties, the cold, the disappointments, the fears. At the same time we shared the beauty, the generosity and concern, all the good humor – these were our delights too. Since we didn’t have sufficient crew support, we had the fathers and monks help us carry gear; they served as production assistants. Our equipment and “crew” were rarely with us in the same place at the same time. Communication was also difficult, often impossible. Physically, I had more difficulties with the sub-zero temperatures, snow and elevation than Nick but we both managed pretty well–up to the day we attempted to cross the Pass.
“Like Geshe, on that day I thought I was going to die. When we first set out that morning I was already struggling – slipping and falling, sweating, hyperventilating. Nick kept up with the lead party and shot everything he could. Thanks to him the turning point of the film was captured. He shot the pivotal scene when I wasn’t even there. I was further back than Geshe – huffing and puffing and hoping I’d make it over the Pass. The thought “I’m too old for this” was probably the most benign thought I had that day.
“Five days later when, by jeep, we finally reached Leh, Nick flew back to the States and I became a one man crew. In addition to losing his visualizing talents, I lost my sounding board, confidante, and back-up crew. I also lost his Canon GL2 camera, which had become our A camera. All the footage from Leh onward was shot by me, much of it with the C camera – a cheap consumer handicam, because I couldn’t properly charge my batteries for the much better B camera – my JVC GY500. Ironically, the only battery problems we had on the whole trip were after we reached “civilization.” I ended up giving myself a camera credit in the film not because I shot 20% of the story but because I didn’t want Nick to take the heat for my crappy footage!
“In Feb. 2005, we made a third trip to India to film the scene of the children meeting the Dalai Lama. Once in Dharamsala we didn’t know until the day before that it was actually going to be possible to meet with him. We had all of fifteen minutes to get the material I knew was going to be the capstone scene for the whole film. People ask me all the time what it was like to meet the Dalai Lama. I tell them I was working!
“One of our greatest challenges for the whole project turned out to be translation. During the filming in Zanskar, we never had an adequate translator with us. Not only could we not speak directly with the families and the kids, we never knew with certainty what was happening at any moment. Geshe and Dhamchoe filled us in as best they could, but their own limited command of English sometimes made our communication difficult. In hindsight, my biggest regret is that I didn’t learn Zanskari myself. I could have made a different film – highlighting the children more – and sharing more about their families and their back-stories.
“Back in the U.S., it was also nearly impossible to find translators for the 45 hours of Zanskari footage. Little did I know when we began that only a handful of speakers in the world are fluent in both Zanskari and English. In the end, Geshe did the bulk of the translation himself while on a visit to the US. Through an elaborate game of telephone, he translated the spoken Zanskari into Tibetan. Then a Tibetan student translated each line from Tibetan into English, all the while writing down time codes. They also translated 20 hours of Tibetan and Hindi. This painstaking process took over a month.
“So it was only in April of 2008 that for the first time I could sit down with complete transcripts of our footage and discover what it was we had actually shot almost four years before! What a delight! I made many discoveries that I had no idea existed in the footage. It was also fun to hear some of what Geshe and Dhamchoe had been saying about me and Nick!
“Constructing the proper storyline took about a year, helped in no small way by co-editor Joanna Kiernan. I spent most of summer 2008 putting subtitles on hours of raw footage and editing the first string-out. In the Fall, Joanna edited the first rough cut, setting a basic structure for the story. Then from December onward I brought the film home. Due to the usual lack of finances we didn’t finish until October, 2009.
‘The journey that has been JOURNEY FROM ZANSKAR has been informed at every juncture by the wisdom, humor, and acceptance of Geshe Lobsang, Lobsang Dhamchoe, the gracious and joyful monks of Stongde monastery, and the amazing resilience of the people of Zanskar, from the youngest child to the oldest grandmother. There were times in the two years prior to completion when, overwhelmed with anxiety and stress over how I was going to finish the film, I would drop my head to my desk and weep. The one thing that always pulled me through was the film itself. I would pick up the editing again and see Geshe laugh in the face of crushing disappointment, witness a starving mother weep bittersweet tears giving up her daughter for a chance at a better life elsewhere, hear the children sing while riding into a dangerous and unknown future, observe Yangjor help Jigmed’s blinded father cross a stream, watch Tsultim reach out to share with me his first ever taste of nuts. Their example fortified and inspired me. How could I not make this film?
“Our simple hope is that you will share the film with as many people as possible. If you require a DVD you can order one by clicking here. We have both NTSC and PAL formats. We also have a limited number of DVDs with French subtitles. If you know a Buddhist or school organization that would love the film please let them know so they can download their free copy today. If you are a Buddhist or school organization please feel free to screen the film for your sangha or students at any time.
“We hope you will enjoy our labor of love and service. We are a small NGO based in the U.S. Our mission: Through filmmaking and teaching, Warrior Films bears witness to social realities, inspiring citizens worldwide to create needed social change.
How often has one person affected humanity to such a degree that were the fruits of his labor withdrawn immediately from our day-to-day existence, the world as we know it … would essentially stop? (more…)
I had the opportunity to interview Robert Kiyosaki, author of the #1 bestselling personal finance book of all time, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, on the radio. His “Rich Dad” series of books has been translated into 52 languages and sold 28-million copies in 109 countries.
Robert was great. Straight-shooter. Salty (almost had to beep him once – but I was laughing too hard to do it) and hilariously funny. If you ever get a chance to see him speak – do it.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.
I wanted to see what shaped his attitude in life. Because he has one. Powerful, true, ingrained.
LITTLE-KNOWN FACT ABOUT ROBERT KIYOSAKI
STEVE: I was going to start off with, “What’s it like to sell 28-million copies of Rich Dad Poor Dad?”‘ but I won’t. Probably bore you to tears. I’m a Vet and know that you are as well. When I learned you served as a marine helicopter gunship pilot in Vietnam, winning an air award medal, it intrigued me.
How did that time, that job, that place shape not only your business and leadership style, but also prepare you for the battlefield of business and life?
ROBERT: Being a gunship pilot we had a life expectancy of about 30 days because we got shot down so quickly.
“The most important thing I learned is that there’s no second place. “
For most of my life, I was kind of a screw-off—average in school, average in sports. I remember the day at Camp Pendleton in California when they strapped the missiles and guns onto my helicopter; it kind of sunk in that there was no second place anymore. Then one day I was flying my first actual mission in Vietnam, and I realized the school days were over. There were rounds coming up at us and I thought, “These guys are trying to kill us.”
Then, my crew chief taps me on the helmet and said;
“Hey lieutenant, you know what sucks about this job? There’s no second place. Either he’s going home or we’re going home, but we’re both not going to go home today.
“You better make up your mind who goes home today.”
Thank God we came home, the other guy didn’t, unfortunately. Once you learn that, it kind of takes the complacency out of your butt.
I decided if I was going to do something, I wasn’t going to do it average anymore; I was going to do it as if my life depended on it. I think that gives me the competitive edge.
BS DOESN’T DECIDE
I was a C student all the way through school. I failed out of high school two times because I just didn’t care.
I still have a Bachelor’s of Science degree that stands for BS, but other than that, it had nothing to do with my education.
It depended on how well you wanted to live your life.
IT’S YOUR CHOICE
If you want to live like a schmuck, that’s your choice, but it’s not my choice.
STEVE: How did you translate those experiences into leadership? You said the Marines changed your whole perception of leadership.
ROBERT: I went to four years of military school also, and they don’t teach you much except how to lead.
The first thing they teach you is,
What’s the mission?
It’s the most important thing of any military officer.
The next two things are,
Can you take orders?
Can you give orders?
In other words, can you follow and will other people follow you?
That was impeccable discipline.
One of the reasons people aren’t successful is NOT because they didn’t go to good schools; they just lack cojones as my Mexican friends would say. They lack discipline.
Discipline simply means doing what you need to do in spite of the fact you don’t want to do it.
That’s all it takes for success; you have to be disciplined.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. – Edmund Burke
I know a beautiful young lady, of heart and soul, named Amy Matney. She’s a part of our family. She’s not my sister, but could be. Amy treated my young teenage stepdaughter, Isabella Ehret Kayser (below), like her own daughter – in a time of darkness, confusion, death and chaos – and in that moment, she shined.
When the worse that could ever happen to a child did (Isabella’s father passed away), Amy was there. She stood strong and reached out to all – even though she had no responsibility whatsoever to do so.
Isabella Ehret Kayser and Amy Matney
And because of that one tragic and sorrowful moment in time, though not related by blood, Amy became a part of our family – and always will be. And me, having a history with good and bad stepmothers (read “The Greatest Words You’ve Never Heard”), her response to our little girl’s tragedy makes Amy as close to an Angel on earth, to me, as could be.
NOW… THE EVIL BACKSTORY
But this particular Amy has a past. She grew up without a mother from a very young age. Any idea why? Did her mom die in childbirth? No. Auto accident? No. Cancer? No. Another type of accident? No.
Worse. Much worse. It’s what nightmares are made of. Except this nightmare is real and seemingly unending.
It was a demonic, almost Satanic, act of violence that took Amy’s mother away from her. People that live in Southern Ohio will remember this story. But this story is a story of all places, not just southern Ohio. A story that is timely, timeless – and horrific. A story that needs an end. And an end, if it ever happens – would be a happy ending. But Amy’s story is not.
STOP THIS INSANITY
Amy’s mother, Judy, was brutally murdered in 1987 by Ted Sinks (her husband at the time), a psychopathic killer (by any definition, clinical or otherwise) and a controlling, abusive, woman-beating animal. After he snuffed God’s spirit out of Amy’s mother, he put her in a plastic drum. Then he had a person that reported to him at the Dayton Daily News, in Ohio, help haul this drum up and bury it under freshly poured concrete in a section of the building that was undergoing renovation. A place, but by the grace of God, she probably never would have been discovered. Amy’s mother’s body stayed there for quite some time before being uncovered.
But this is no place for me to talk about that. This animal, this evil, mother-murdering scum, is up for parole right now – and must be stopped. I’ll let Amy tell you why….
“After serving nearly 30 years for killing his wife,Ted Sink’s stepdaughter, Amy Matney, wants him to remain in prison until he dies.
Sinks, 76, an ex-Dayton Daily News maintenance supervisor, has a fourth chance at parole in July when an institutional hearing is held to see if his case moves forward to the full Ohio Parole Board. An Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction panel will decide whether or not to recommend Sinks’ release.
“I think it’s important that the parole board understand the brutality of the murder,” Judy Sinks’ daughter Amy Matney said Monday after a victims’ conference she attended with her uncles at Michael’s House in Fairborn. “Our goal is for him not to be released and, it doesn’t really matter, his age at this point, or how long he’s been in there. Our goal is to simply keep him behind bars.”
Sinks was convicted in 1989 of killing his wife at home and then encasing her body in concrete on the seventh floor of the Dayton Daily News’ downtown building. Workers used sledgehammers to crack open a concrete pedestal for a water purifying unit to uncover Judy Sinks’ body. Sinks had placed his wife’s body in a plastic barrel and had a subordinate, who did not know the contents, help him move it up elevators and stairs to the top of the building at Fourth and Ludlow streets.
“My mother was a beautiful, gentle, soft-spoken, loving (woman),” Matney said. “She was a stay-at-home mom and she raised us well with great work ethic and was just a beautiful lady.” Amy Matney, of Englewood, urged people to recognize the signs of domestic violence and to report it to the Artemis Center at (937) 222-SAFE. “This particular case with my mother was classic domestic violence,” she said. “Probably the last two years of my mother’s life, I didn’t see her very often. He was very controlling and (she had) several injuries before the actual murder. Probably the control and isolation are the themes that really are red flags for domestic violence.”
Judy Sinks’ brothers — Larry, Dave, Leonard and Terry Harmon — urged anyone in support of Sinks’ continued incarceration to write to Victim Witness Division Director Sandra Hunt at 41 N. Perry St, Dayton OH 45422 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Daidone said it’s important for victims’ families to stay involved after defendants are sentenced.
“You have a voice. Use it,” he said. “Let the parole board know that you don’t want that defendant released.”
Amy said the victim conferences are comforting and provide an avenue to let feelings be known, even if it stirs up painful memories.
“I think it’s bittersweet,” she said. “It gives me the opportunity to talk about my mom. I don’t get the opportunity to do that very often. It’s important that he stays in there. He murdered my mother and he deserves to stay behind bars.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
A brutal, murdering psychopath is up for parole. Eligible to be free. To breathe fresh air again. To walk the streets seeking fresh prey again. To murder another mother and leave a daughter or son to grow up alone.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good PEOPLE to do nothing. – Edmund Burke.
Please, I ask all friends (and even enemies) to write to Victim Witness Division Director Sandra Hunt at 41 N. Perry St, Dayton OH 45422 or email her at email@example.com to stop this impending travesty. To stop another preventable murder by a psychopath that has no respect or empathy for human life. Never again should this murdering beast see the sun uncovered by bars, or to breathe the air unfettered by chains.
Never again is now. Never again should murdering psychopaths be set loose on our streets to wreak havoc, misery and evil on the innocents of our society.
TODAY … #NEVERAGAINISNOW – PLEASE STEP UP
Write to Victim Witness Division Director Sandra Hunt at 41 N. Perry St, Dayton OH 45422 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stop the release of this mother-murdering monster, Ted Sinks.