An air of inevitability

Last week I heard an NPR story that grabbed my attention.

It wouldn’t let me go, and I’ve been talking about it ever since.

It was about the Oscar-nominated movie Dallas Buyers Club. Reporter Neta Ulaby reported on the obstacles writer Craig Borten faced in getting this movie made.

Borten wrote the movie about real-life character Ron Woodroof and his experience in Texas as he was dying of AIDS. (Matthew McConnaughey plays Woodroof in the movie).

Borten struggled to get a producer to even consider the possibility of making yet another movie about a man with AIDS. But, finally he got a movie company to buy the script!

Then, the movie company that bought it went bankrupt!

So Borten teamed up with Melissa Wallack and the two of them wrote a new script. They sold this one to a 2nd movie company.  Then, the script got stuck in what Borten calls “development hell” — for over a decade.

These writers faced one insurmountable challenge after the other.

Borten was so emotionally distraught over the challenges that he developed a serious problem with drugs and alcohol (he’s sober now).

Then everything changed.

Matthew McConnaughey read the script, loved it and committed to the movie before it was funded, according to the NPR story. That was in 2009 – thirteen years after Borten sold the original script.

And at that time McConnaughey was no superstar. This was before he did Killer Joe and Mud, so he didn’t have the Hollywood pull he has today.

Before a movie company picked it up, and before there was any funding for the movie, McConnaughey committed himself to preparing for the role. He started losing weight — ultimately losing 25% of his body weight — to play the dying Woodroof.

As NPR broadcast this story, the movie producer’s words jumped out at me: Matthew McConnaughey ‘s commitment “gave the movie an air of inevitability.”

McConnaughey believed that this story needed to be told, and that he needed to be a part of it. And his belief got the powers-that-be motivated.

“We just willed that movie into existence,” says Producer Robbie Brenner. “We willed it. We willed it. We willed it.”

The concept of will brings to mind the Sanskrit word “tapas.” It’s a word we use in yoga to imply focused action. It means something along the lines of burning desire and self-discipline.

B.K.S.Iyengar says in Light on Yoga:
“Tapas is derived from the root “tap” meaning to blaze, burn, shine, suffer pain or consume by heat. It therefore means a burning effort under all circumstances to achieve a definite goal in life. It involves purification, self-discipline and austerity. The whole science of character-building may be regarded as practice of tapas.”

How can you create a sense of inevitability toward what you want to accomplish?

It takes a strong will for me to get out of bed some mornings! But once I do, I want to move toward something good, something that aligns with my priorities and what I want to create.

If you have experienced a burning desire to create something or to achieve a definite goal, what deliberate steps can you take to engage your will?

Here are a few things that help me:  attend yoga class, spend time with people who do things instead of people who talk about things, read inspiring articles & books, go for a walk in Overton Park.  Think about what might help you.

You can read or listen to the whole NPR story here.

Comments are closed.