The Peaceful Artist

How do we stand in the place where desire must meet with action and find peace?

Written by Rhonda Musak

I’m in great envy of Winnie the Pooh. 

I’m thinking in particular of the Winnie the Pooh as illuminated by Benjamin Hoff in The Tao of Pooh, that open-hearted, wide-eyed fella who can’t but help land squarely on his feet.  At this moment I’m sitting on my own personal battle line between desire and action… and I am envious.

Like any acting role, all of my blog posts have some part of me in them, but this one in particular goes to the core. 

I have decided to be this personal because I don’t believe that I am alone; I have met comrades in these trenches in many forms: friends, colleagues, and students.  I am speaking here of my personal struggle with finding a place of peace and flow that lies somewhere between the intersection of desire and action.  I recall the words an insightful teacher once said to me during my conservatory days: “Rhonda,” he said “you are like the woman who shows up at a store sale before anyone else in order to buy the place out.”   But how pray tell is it done?  How do we stand in the place where desire must meet with action and find peace?  The choice to commit ones life to any field within the world of art is one full of the deepest ramifications on every level.  We make this choice out of deep desire: a desire to create; a desire to give; a desire to use every part of ourselves in order to fulfill something that goes way beyond mere daily existence.  It’s impossible to take making this choice lightly.  Inherent in the choosing is giving up a stability that is offered in the road most taken—if you do ABC you will get XYZ.

And then there is action…oh, do not dare forget about action!  Taking one step after the other after the other after the other.  But those steps have a potential to turn into a jog and then into a run and then into a marathon and sometimes that only feels like the beginning.  The whirling and the swirling until we have spun ourselves into an utter exhaustion that points to desire as the evil culprit of it all.

When I recall the most impactful moments of my life, there is nary a whirl or a swirl to be seen.  How is it that I got from Chicago to New York City?  One day, while living in Chicago, I picked up a copy of a local newspaper, The Chicago Reader, on the way home from dance class.  I opened the newspaper to find an enormously tiny ad for auditions for an NYC acting conservatory.  Within less time than it took for my heart to beat, I was on the phone arranging my appointment.  That was it: one tiny dart sailing through time and space hitting an exact bull’s-eye.

Gratefully, there are moments of my life when this kind of flow is in abundance.  My heart is at peace as I allow the painter to paint the picture through my life in an effortless cascade of action that is centered in a place that I can’t even touch.  But at other times, the tables are turned and I am standing over my metaphorical garden shaking my fists and screaming at the top of my lungs “GROW!”  It’s those directives that ultimately squash the very seedlings I have lovingly tended and nurtured.  And honestly, the fist shaking and screaming are just plain exhausting.

I gather that the great work, the work of the ages and of sages, is to be at choice with peace.  Benjamin Hoff talks about that sweet spot in the middle of desire and doing: “…through working in harmony with life’s circumstances, Taoist understanding changes what others may perceive as a negative into something positive.”  “Through working in harmony with life’s circumstances”…there’s something faithful and beautiful about that phrase that instantly makes a case for landing on one’s feet.

In fact, as if on que, as I searched for a way to end this piece I checked my e-mail and found this “Note form the Universe”*—with ease and grace it provides the perfect ending:

“Think back on your life, Rhonda, just for a moment, to when something wildly wonderful and totally unexpected happened.  Something that rocked your world and changed your life.  That curled your hair and colored your cheeks.  That lit your fire and buttered your bread.

See what happens when you leave the cursed hows to me?

As you were,

The Universe”

* You can sign up for A Note from the Universe at


Rhonda Musak is the owner of NYC acting studio, Art & Soul Acting. As an acting coach and an Erickson-trained, solution-focused life coach, Rhonda blends powerful acting techniques together with transformation solution focused life coaching; a dynamic combination that insures that students learn sustainable acting tools as well as know when to use them and why.

For more information about acting classes, private acting coaching in person or via Skype, college prep program and the Art & Soul Acting Book Club for Actors’, please visit

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