Ok… sorry folks… this is going to get esoteric.

In my previous post I talked about the struggle. I thought I would then go back to writing about improv-y things… like AEIOU and the like. However, blogs and writing and thinking improvisationally have their own effects and their own ways of driving me. For a week I tried to get back to AEIOU but the words wouldn’t come. That’s when I realized I was trying to “drive” my own scene. So I did what I should have done originally and looked to my scene partner, the universe, (see, I warned you about esotericness… esoternocity?) and my partner said, “Hey moron… look over here!”

A few days ago Kate posted a great comment to me… which finally pushed me off the pot upon which I was perched. What happens when we say yes to the struggle?

Firstly, let me say that at least in my experience saying yes to the struggle really isn’t that easy. There have been many times when I thought I was “saying yes to the struggle” only to discover that I was still finding different creative ways of avoiding the pain of struggling. We are very smart, we humans, and we are oh so good a constructing our avoidance tools. They are big, complicated, pretty, interesting, exciting, and tricky. Humans mostly attempt to avoid pain. This makes perfect sense when we are in survival mode. We don’t want to be hungry so we work to get food, we don’t want to burn ourselves so we are careful when we cook it over our hot fires.

But survival doesn’t mean growth. For growth we need to risk, and for risk we need to be willing to be in pain and be in the struggle. So, this past week I have said yes to the struggle…. I mean really said yes.

I am sure it is different for everyone, but for me I worked like this: I looked at what it was that I didn’t want to do/say… then I did or said that thing.

This is kind of subtle so I’ll explain. I have spent a good deal of my life not being perfectly honest about things. I am not what you might call an out-and-out liar, but I have definately skated around important truths with the important people in my life. Being completely honest with the people I care about actually scares the crap outta me.

So these past weeks I have been playing chicken with myself and when I found myself not wanting to say something truthfully… I forced myself to say it. Honesty is my struggle, and I see now how I have spent a great deal of time and energy sliding around it. So what happened when I said yes to the struggle?

Oddly, nothing has turned out the way I thought I would. I was convinced that if I was completely up front with the people I loved than they would turn away from me, reject me, be angry with me, dislike me… Amazingly I have found the opposite to be true. People I thought would turn away have turned toward me… people I thought would reject me have embraced me. And even weirder than that, their reaction to me is completely secondary to my reaction to myself. Yes, I appreciate that my friends and loved ones haven’t kicked me to the curb, but more importantly I haven’t felt this good about myself in years.

Many years ago I spent my summers as a raft guide. In the midst of a class 5 rapid, when things are really scary and dangerous, the world looks very crisp. There is a high that I used to feel after getting safely down a river. (The same one I still feel when I am on stage in the middle of an improv show) The sky always looked so blue, the trees so green, the world looked gorgeous. Now that I am in the middle of my own rapids the feeling is the same. I haven’t felt this alive in years. Esoteric or not, It’s actually fun scaring the crap out of myself.

Today’s Improvmantra: What is your struggle?


About improvmantra

What is an improv mantra? An improv mantra is a phrase you repeat to yourself just before you go on stage, and continue to keep in your mind while you are in a scene. An effective mantra makes you a better improviser. Todd Erler, like all living creatures, has been doing improv every day since he was born. He has been performing improv on stage for more than 20 years. He is a teacher, writer, musicain, director, actor, and member of The Portable Reality Show.
This entry was posted in Attitude, Fear and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Through…

  1. Thanks, Mantra. I immediately went home and told my wife her ass looks big.
    Just kiddin. Good post as usual. Love that baby pic and rapids metaphor.

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