“For me, acting is tortuous, and it’s tortuous because you know its a beautiful thing. I was young once, and I said, ‘That’s beautiful and I want that.’ Wanting it is easy, but trying to be great–well, that’s absolutely torturous.” – Philip Seymour Hoffman
Aaron wrote yesterday that Mr. Hoffman passed away from an apparent overdose. It was truly a tragic end to a brilliant career in its prime. From Oakland A’s manager, Art Howe, in Moneyball to In Cold Blood author, Truman Capote, in Capote (which brought him his only and much deserved Academy Award for Best Actor), Mr. Hoffman’s talent for acting was as remarkable as the range of characters in which he so exquisitely portrayed. He should be remembered as one of the greatest actors of his generation, yet he blended into his roles so well that I have heard many say over the past few days, “Who was Philip Seymour Hoffman?”, “What did he look like?”, or “I didn’t know he was in that! Like Aaron, Mr. Hoffman was one of my favorite actors, and if you appreciate his work or writing in general, you will appreciate this undeniably exceptional tribute to his life’s work where I found today’s quote and inspiration.
In this quote, I am reminded of the famous movie line in A League of Their Own where Dottie Henson (Geena Davis) says to Manager Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) as her reason for quitting baseball and going back home with her husband, “It just got too hard.” Dugan replies, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
I have never climbed a mountain (only a few rock walls and an assortment of trees). I suppose that it is hard. I do not know what it is like to strap myself to the side of rock and meticulously reach for every nook and cranny as a safe resting place for my hand or foot as I propel myself toward the peak. One misstep could undo hundreds of well-thought out and flawlessly executed decisions as I slip down the mountainside until my ropes catch my fall. Amazingly, some people do this without ropes, and we can all imagine what one stumble could mean for them.
Imagine the story of Edmund Hillary. He is world famous for taking the first confirmed steps atop the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, with his climbing partner on the expedition, Tenzing Norgay, right behind him. To be on top of the world must be a truly beautiful thing. The getting there, however, must be unbelievably tortuous. Other groups could not make it because of failed oxygen tanks. Others retreated down the mountain because of cold and ice and snow. Hillary’s boots were frozen solid causing him to spend two hours attempting to warm them up enough to make his final ascent of only 91 meters with a 30 pound pack on his back. He risked the elements, he remained patient, he found a way. He stood on top of the world.
We live our days wanting things. We make lists of goals. We pour out our hopes and dreams to those who ask and anyone else who will listen. We have our plans, our missions, our visions. We write it all down. We make our resolutions. We want, we want, we want.
We live our life every day facing elements, facing danger, facing our own set of circumstances. But, how do we face them? Do we stand up and run the other direction the moment that life gets hard? Do we make excuses for why others are able to do it? Do we point fingers when the outcome does not seem fair or just? Or do we adapt and overcome? Do we accept that the road will be hard then keep one going? Do we keep trying to climb until we reach the top?
There is greatness within each one of us. We are all called to be great at something. We are meant to do great things. We may not know what that is just yet, and it may seem like it is not meant for us. But, we must be willing to pay the price. We must go through the process. We must walk that long tough road. We must be willing to see that getting to that beautiful thing we want in life may be absolutely tortuous. Yet, we go through it to try and get there anyway.
Are you willing to do what no one else can do to be great? Are you willing to suffer for it and not just want? Are you willing to climb your mountain?
How hard are you willing to fight/work/train to see the top of your beautiful world? Just as Philip Seymour Hoffman and Edmund Hillary were able to see theirs.
Bring your best today!