Go Big or Go Bust: Day 232 (on the heat wave in NYC, the end of summer, personal boundaries, assertiveness, and 42nd Street)

It’s hot in New York City today, 93º hot and humid and I don’t mind.  Even hiking around the city with my twenty pounds of computer, hard drives and pocketbook cutting into my shoulders, somehow I find it relaxing.  I was thinking how precious these last days of summer are.  I was also thinking that if I lived in LA, they wouldn’t be so precious because they wouldn’t be about to give way to freezing rain and biting wind.  Not that I’m crazy about cold wet weather, but I love having an awareness of the preciousness of now, of the bittersweet end of summer.  And for this to be possible, the seasons have to be limited.  

Naturally, this started me thinking about other limits and boundaries, emotional ones.  In my formative years, personal boundaries never seemed like a good idea.  I sneered at the term ‘personal boundaries’ as pathetic psychobabble for people who couldn’t just wing it, people who had to think about such givens.  

The truth was, I wanted no part of having boundaries or setting limits because by definition, that means confrontation.  Not wanting any part of that, I grew into adulthood avoiding confrontations however I could.  I was ‘flexible’, I was ‘easy-going’.  Frankly, I thought I was killing it at life.  I’d found a way to avoid that stressful, ugly moment when the other person looks at you like they don’t get you and, furthermore, they don’t like you.  I got along with everybody or, if I didn’t, I didn’t push it in anybody’s face.  Who needs to be so goddam brutally honest all the time?  The sad fact is that, if I ever knew how to assert myself, that know-how went down the drain in my teen years.  

Growing from a young adult working alone to an adult working collaboratively, I had a rude awakening.  For the work to come out the way you want it, you have to figure out how to say no to people, how to negotiate and how to develop a thicker skin.  You have to realize that if you insist on what you want, not everybody is going to like you.  Adrienne Weiss shared a pearl of wisdom from her own experience of directing: “Stop trying to make everyone like you.  They already DON’T like you!”

And so I’ve learned a few things about setting limits.  I’ve learned something about asserting myself.  I can have all the conversations I want in my head but when push comes to shove, I have to find the words to ask out loud for what I want and to say no.  Our limits define us, the way temperature and the angle of the sun define the seasons.  And as winter can have its nasty days, so people can have their nasty confrontations.  And like the old 42nd Street had a gritty, filthy and dangerous quality, for me the truth of that 42nd Street was more beautiful than the phony Disneyfication of Times Square today.  I want to be true.  I want to be real.  

It’s supposed to be hot again tomorrow.