Life Is The Only Real Teacher

Dan Millman

Los Angeles, a city of inspiration, perspiration and opposition, is where I have called home for more than half of my lifetime. Like many in this dense landscape, my professional pursuits in the world of entertainment have come with a fair degree of challenges, some that I have defeated, others that have been less forthcoming; yet, I persevere. Call it stubbornness or determination, I remain in this game with an attitude supported by resilience, optimism and an encouraging community that is my rock when all I see between me and my goals is a sea of quicksand. For those not familiar with this west coast address, let me offer a brief background.

Los Angeles is an immense city that stretches for 503 square miles (per Google) of hills, valleys and beachfront properties. Connecting many of these communities is a vast network of freeways, a concrete maze of four to five plus lanes in each direction that, on average, are typically congested with all sorts of mechanical means, from the small sports variety to the massive semis that haul just about anything you can imagine. As the speed limit is more of a goal than a limitation, sitting in traffic often leaves ample time to think and conjure. I am sure many of the world’s problems and solutions have been birthed while sitting at an on-ramp and for me, this is where my saga begins.

A practitioner of aikido, a Japanese martial art formed through an assortment of disciplines while embracing the principles of movement and peace, I was first introduced to Dan Millman’s book, WAY OF THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR back in 1993 when I began my formal training at Doshinokai, an aikido dojo in West Los Angeles. I had found a paperback version in the middle of a variety of aikido texts and spiritual manuals in our small “library” set aside to enlighten and inform guests and fellow practitioners. Borrowing this book for a weekend, I quickly digested this semi-autobiographical tale of a champion gymnast’s quest for enlightenment. It was on that drive home from an aikido seminar, while slugging through L.A. traffic, that my brain recalled this profound story which I first embraced so many years prior. WAY OF THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR. What if? Theatre. Play? Or maybe, musical? In a short amount of time I was able to track down the author, the very Dan Millman himself, and after a year of discussion, secure the live stage rights to his sacred title with the goal of not just producing this for the stage, but for Broadway.

A bit about, WAY OF THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR. Dan Millman’s journey has remained a part of my psyche as it has for so many others all over the world since our first turn to page one. Millions of people cherish the fictional Dan Millman’s discoveries, crediting it as a literary journey that has indeed changed their lives; some even say that it has saved their lives. Ever since its first publishing more than thirty-five years ago it has become a global phenomenon. Translated internationally into more than twenty languages, Peaceful Warrior is the cornerstone to author Dan Millman’s nineteen-book (and growing) prolific library and the birth of the Peaceful Warrior brand. Now I am bringing this beloved literary exploration of the self to the live stage, as a musical. No pressure. None whatsoever.

Following Socrates’ “House Rules” and determined to honor the legacy of this title and the author’s inspirational characters, I am thrilled to be entrusted with this opportunity. The intention behind this article, and subsequent writings, will detail my journey, our journey, from the page to the stage. The goal is Broadway. But first we must address the creative process of writing the book (musical script), lyrics and music, all under the guise of, “humor, paradox and change.” I am convinced that this trek itself will have its own revelatory consequences and will do my utmost to embrace all of these experiences as teachers. After-all, per Dan Millman, the author, Socrates is a combination of many different mentors that he experienced throughout that early portion of his life. I believe that we all have our own personal Socrates that manifests in a variety of means, my instinct tells me that this is absolutely one of them.

“Life is not a private affair. A story and its lessons are only made useful if shared,” says Dan Millman in the Way of the Peaceful Warrior opening Acknowledgements. That said, let the journey begin.