Do you have the energy and strength to face life? Life can ask more of you than you are willing to give.
Joseph Campbell said that in his classic, The Hero’s Journey.
A couple of weeks ago as announced here I had the adventure of working behind the scenes with Old Spice Man, actor and former NFL wide receiver Isaiah Mustafa on a commercial for Chrysler at the Circuit of the Americas to close the V8 Supercars Austin 400. When Chrysler sent the race safety car over from Australia it was delivered to the Texas capitol by Australian hero and rugby star Wendell “Big Dell” Sailor. Big Dell is known for being a larger than life figure and for his own hero’s journey in a sometimes public battle with drug addiction. Though it all he remains a much beloved icon in his home country.
When the races wrapped, of course an equally significant “American hero” was called for in order to return the car back to Australia from its stay in the Lone Star State. Enter Isaiah.
Isaiah, as Old Spice Man, rose to viral video fame a few years ago astride the metaphorical white horse, among other things, as the Man Your Man Could Smell Like. When the race’s event producers imagined his safety car send off they just HAD to have a white horse co-star for Isaiah. It was even a part of their media alert for the shoot.
As mentioned many times before I love when art and life mirror each other. Synchronicity and archetypes play a huge and natural part in my own healing, as well as that of my clients. In understanding our stories we create congruency and ease of living.
You can imagine that when a PR industry friend saw a plea in her social network for a white horse the week after our May presentation on the topic of equine facilitated mindfulness she thought of me.
“This is how you know you’re branded!” she said.
Yeah, I admit it. I love that within days of writing “what better metaphor for the hero’s journey in creating wellness no matter what than a white horse?” I was asked to provide this pop culture American hero his own white steed.
When Arabian stallion Nebras Al Rayyan, a truly international star himself, arrived at the track on this sunny day like all powerful warriors he immediately announced his presence to anyone within earshot with a terrific trumpet call. He then settled in to munch hay while we proceeded to the “hurry up and wait” portion of the project.
In the meantime the shoot’s creative director was looking a little frazzled after an hour spent setting up several cameras and photographers, choreographing horse handling with me, and acting under exceptionally tight production deadlines with the last minute arrival of Isaiah fresh off a flight from LA. It was no small thing to figure out how to please the client, support the creative vision, and honor the horse’s owner’s need to protect her valuable stallion when determining exactly what our 1200 pound co-star could and couldn’t do to satisfy the vision.
“No, I’m sorry we really can’t let the horse run loose on the track,” I assured him.
“Yeah, I’m a little stressed,” he admitted.
Of course I went into energy-geek-wellness-coach mode immediately!
About 30 seconds into my showing him how to use a simple body pose to lower cortisol and raise testosterone for a stressful task, hands on hips in – wait for it – hero’s pose, he grinned, “Yeah, I’m liking this!” He was immediately and visibly more relaxed.
(That technique, especially great for performance anxiety and stress, can be found here in my 30SecondMom stream. Despite the Wonder Woman post art, it’s great for men, too!)
Action plan sealed and all parties accounted for, soon the actual shoot didn’t take long. Nebras went right to work and wowed everyone with his ability to stand still and pose. I was immediately struck the way I always am when I’m noticing the energy interplay between people and horses. This will never get old for me. At moments, Isaiah and Nebras were in perfect synch. First striking a pose to the left, then to the right, then to center. For a while it was as if Nebras and Isaiah were two of those puppets with their limbs and heads attached so that when one moved the other did. It was a thrill to observe.
Isaiah was the consummate professional and extremely patient for a man sharing an important work task with an unpredictable animal. He even went along with it when we suggested that he personally hold the stallion. Originally an artistic concern due to the phantom lead rope leading off-camera appearing in the shot, I knew this would also encourage Nebras to bond energetically with Isaiah and prevent his owner off-camera from being a distraction.
“I’M okay with holding the horse if YOU’RE okay with me holding the horse,” he assured her.
“Just think of him as a big dog!” she instructed. “You’ll be fine.”
After several smooth partial takes that could have easily been edited together into a plain jane whole, the team was considering calling it quits. I whispered to the director to relax and try one more time. Even though the stress in the entire crew and onlookers was palpable, as someone who has professionally photographed dozens and dozens of horses in my former life as an agency creative director I felt like we were close to magic.
And — Voilà.
Even though Nebras was about done with all of the concentration, thank-you-very-much, and began fidgetting, Isaiah hit on an amazing bit of ad-lib that was gold. He turned Nebras’ fidgeting into a tongue-in-cheek throw down to Australia’s Big Dell.
Here is the result from Chrysler’s YouTube channel:
Knowing the story behind the scenes this bit is priceless! There is nothing like the art of creative collaboration with a group of people who bring diverse bits of treasure to the table. Whether on a media project like this, a successful journey helping a client overcome illness with a diverse team of wellness professionals, or on a piece of innovative technology, collaboration on a common goal is always a thrill for me. We are all stronger when we work in harmony together.
And even so…it really all boils down to that hero’s journey. When each of us has integrity and congruency within ourselves, we can work and play and heal in integrity with others.
And the result truly can be magical.
Photo :: Allison Peacock of White Horse Medicine and Old Spice Man, Isaiah Mustafa recently met over an experience with a beautiful white horse at Circuit of the Americas. Jared Tennant Photo.