Juxtaposition is a powerful tool. It both creates relationships and reveals relationships, thereby deepening both elements set in opposition. The juxtaposition of discipline and disciple was accidental when considering my own process of work yesterday. Chastising myself for a poor rewrite yesterday, I scornfully took my discipline to task. Using pen and paper – a throwback moment – I scripted DISCIPLINE across the page in my best architectural block lettering.
The similarity to disciple magically appeared; they are one in the same, I thought. Remove the i-n from discipline and we have disciple. Discipline is the controlled behavior resulting from training or practice. Disciple refers to the follower of a teacher, philosopher or philosophy. It’s axiomatic that a follower of some concept or principle must possess discipline. Working in reverse led me to another important reinvention element, one which I do not currently practice but have utilized with great success.
If our work, whatever it may be, is important to us for whatever the reason – fulfills a passion, puts bread on the table – the workspace should be regarded with integrity and a touch of spirituality. The space is a sacred space wherein we author our most intimate ideas or bare our most secretive corners of the soul. I have not done that, where this reinvention process is concerned. I hide to write; that is, I try to find a place where I am inconspicuous and uninterrupted. There are times when that is home; there are times when it is a coffee shop. It is nomadic and I suspect it may not be the best approach… not to mention expensive, given the current price of gas!
I am not so rigid or literal as to suggest working exclusively in a shrine, cathedral, or temple; nor am I suggesting daily treks to historical landmarks, battlefields, or buildings for creative work. The real lesson is that we must honor our work if we desire it to be honorable.
A good portion of my life has been spent in the theater, a director and teacher in regional, community and educational theater. From my earliest experiences as a youth in summer stock, sweeping the stage before a rehearsal or performance was ritualistic. During a military stint, I found myself placed in a military theater as the assistant director. I usually started the day sweeping the stage! People joked about my process for the entire two years of my work there. To me the stage was a special place of possibility.
As a teacher, who was not attempting to create professional actors, I wanted to instill a respect for the creative process in my students. Sweeping and mopping the stage before rehearsal or performance was number one on the ritual preparation that was quite lengthy. I treated the stage as a scared place and demanded the same respect from my students. I posted a sign on the stage doors leading from the dressing rooms and hall to back stage that read: “Only the most dedicated creative professionals pass through these doors.” It worked spectacularly. To this day, I still receive emails from former students, some working in theater while others do not, remembering the ethics of our process and how that discipline serves them today.
It’s time to take a lesson from myself, brought on by the serendipitous juxtaposition of discipline and disciple. However I chose, by whatever means necessary, the place I work must be sacred, treated as such, organized as such, regarded as such. When you go to a sacred place honesty is demanded. I know of no better point of embarkation for a writer, or any creative mind.