The voice came out of the darkness.
So I tried. I did my best to adjust. I had to. I took a shot at existing in this new way. Like all transitions, it felt awkward at first. Clumsy. And then just when I started to get the hang of--
"CHANGE!" the voice from the darkness demanded something new from me. Holy crap. I had just started to feel comfortable with the previous new thing, and now--
Oh my god! Something else?! Are you friggin' serious?! Already?!
"CHANGE!" That damn voice.
It always broke down like that. Changes eventually coming so fast that each change then ran into the next one without me ever having time to adjust or even to try anything new, much less settle into it. By that point, there was no chance of keeping up. And, as the saying goes, hilarity ensued. But this is just the way it goes with...
Improv exercises in acting class. (Wait, did you think I was going to say, "Life"? We'll get to that in a second.)
Improv is a psychological high-wire act of an exercise.
There are tons of ways to do Improv. The one mentioned here is when you are given a scenario; you start performing, and just when you move into a different position, an instructor will yell, "CHANGE!" And from that point, you start a completely new scenario.
...Much like in Life...
You don't know what's coming next. There is nothing scripted. There is no plan other than "roll with it." There isn't even a clear objective or projected result. You're never sure when you "arrive" because there is no "there" there.
There's a moment.
Then another moment.
Kinda like, I dunno, Life.
In Improv, you're quite literally existing from one moment to the next. If you get too far ahead of yourself in your mind things will break down. Especially when an acting coach is yelling "CHANGE!" at random moments. In order for things to flow, you must stay in the moment. Fully present.
When you're on stage in Improv, you and your cast members form a partnership. A teamwork of communication. Of possibilities. Of the liberation that only Positivity can provide. Because in Improv, there's only one rule:
That's it. That's the rule.
When someone says something, no matter how outrageous, or how much of a non-sequitur you think it is, regardless of whether you think it's funny, silly, stupid or whatever other judgment you want to put on it, you must say (literally or figuratively), "Yes, and..." then keep moving forward. Improv then is an open system; Improv separates the Process from seeking a specific Result. Improv is not a closed, narrow, defined system. Improv is Openness; it is freedom based on "Yes, and..."
But there's another two-word phrase that has power: "What if..." The power of that phrase, however, depends on who is using it.
Imagine the power of "What if..." in the hands of a "Yes, and..." Culture. The possibilities are endless. What if we give this a chance? If it doesn't work, what if we try something else? What if I try a New Year's Resolution, and then adjust?
Unfortunately, all too often we see the power of "What if..." in the "Yeah, but" Culture. The culture or division. The culture of cynicism. Maybe it's in social media. Maybe it's in your circle of friends or your family. Maybe "Yeah, but..." Culture is at your job. Or maybe it's in your head.
Yeah, but what if something always goes wrong?
Yeah, but what if they will laugh at me?
Yeah, but what if I fail?
Yeah, but what if I'm too much of something?
Yeah, but what if I'm not enough of something else?
You can actually feel the dead weight in these statements. The lack of energy. The lack of forward momentum.
Meanwhile, there is a voice yelling from the midst of darkness, "CHANGE!" And we all need to determine how and when we react when we hear that voice. Do we react with "Yes, and..." or "Yeah, but..." or not react at all. Sometimes The Pause is best reaction you can have.
Sometimes the "CHANGE!" command is in the form of the Pandemic. The Unintended Positives Community was created to be a culture and a response of "Yes, and..." Sometimes the voice yelling "CHANGE!" is sudden and immediate. In those times, who are the problem-solvers? Who are the nay-sayers? The Cynics and the Critics offer a culture of "Yeah, but..." Can we stand with our feet planted and say "Yes, and..."?
Right now, if you hear "CHANGE!" being yelled at you by commercials, you have a choice. If the voice is coming from inside you, you have a choice -- is it the "Yeah, but..." voice of your inner critic? Or is the "Yes, and..." voice of your intuition?
You get to decide. Happy New Year!