Improving at improv
In search of a new creative outlet, I signed up for an improv class last fall.
The clever wordplay and spontaneity appealed to me. Connecting random ideas could inform my writing. It might be good for a few laughs.
For two hours every week, for nine weeks, my mind felt stuck in the muck.
But instead of walking away, I re-upped for level two in the spring. I suspected that improv and mindfulness were somehow connected. Just in case, I should subjugate my ego and press on.
I envy my classmates. They throw themselves into new characters and utter sounds they've never made before. Even in our tiny classroom, they have stage presence.
Yes, I realize I need to let go of the envy. Clearly, I’m here to learn!
Last week, I pretended to be a middle-aged mom trying to force-fit a pair of invisible skinny jeans over her hips. Even as I writhed around on the floor and tugged, I was living in my head.
"Oh, look at that! I'm writhing around on the floor! That's kinda different. Maybe funny. How long should I keep it up?"
Improv—with its cardinal rule of YES, AND..."— should provide the safest-possible stage. So, if no one is judging, why is it so hard to go boldly into a scene?
Envy and fear? Pretty clear!
So for now, I struggle on Sunday nights to quiet my monkey mind. To be present for my classmates, who need me to accept their offers.
I try not to think about quitting—at least until I'm back in my car.
Because improv also is great training for the humble solopreneur to spot opportunity.
Last week I had three prospect meetings I didn't expect. And a book arrived in the mail from an author in search of more readers.
All of these offers have potential. They all will require me to improvise.
And starting from “YES, AND...” will allow me to listen wholeheartedly and suggest viable approaches.
Serving these clients may or may not meet my goal for the Highest and Best Use of my skills. But I will boldly go.
And I guarantee I will learn something.