Aaron Sorkin on all-consuming passions

One of my favourite screenwriters/showrunners is Aaron Sorkin. He wrote A Few Good Men, and created shows like The West Wing, Sports Night and Studio 60. He’s considered one of the best dramatists of his generations and responsible for taking television drama to the standard of cinema.

I never understood what I liked about his work so much until I read this article. Sorkin is brilliant but has struggled for much of his life with substance issues. But the one thing he does well is write and he does it brilliantly. Mirroring his own life, his work has always been about the following themes:

“the longing for acceptance, the wish for success, the idea that work will give you a home, and that home will solve your problems.”; and that “it’s okay to be alone, if you can find family at work. It’s the romance of being good at your job and being committed to it.”

I’m fortunate i don’t share Sorkin’s ailments, but i certainly relate to what he is saying to my own job and the amount i spend coaching. i see it in a lot of the people i work with too. It’s the idea that much of the meaning in your life comes from the life you have in your work rather than outside it. Sorkin’s right. It can be lonely. But you do find “family” that comes and goes. I think of the itinerant people I know who work in animation who just move from country to country in big flocks to work on the next blockbuster. It’s not exactly a settled life but home and family is where the work is in any given moment.

Coaching is the same. you spend so much time working with people who grow up and move on. Your “family” is always  changing, but you’ll find it wherever the work is. I can only imagine that playing professionally abroad is very much the same sort of deal as it takes certain qualities to be able to be good at it. After all, it’s one thing to love a sport, but another thing entirely to love the work that comes with being good at it.

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