Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In the moment

One of the keys to a successful improv scene is to be in the moment, to be present, and stop thinking. In life we know that enjoying the moment is something we should all do more of, but it is easier said than done. How does one stay in the moment? How does one truly enjoy each moment? And what is a moment? Is it a nano-second? Is it today? Is it this year? Is it this era? We only seem to truly appreciate moments when they are past, when we see moments in photographs, when we laugh and reminisce with others over fond memories. We can enjoy the past. We can look forward to the future. But how do we enjoy the present?

One of the problems, I think, is that we measure our lives in terms of years. On New Year's Eve, as I write this, it is more evident than ever by the Facebook posts coming through the newsfeed. People muse about what the new year will bring. People either reflect on the fulfilled year they had, or breathe a sigh of relief that this particular year is over.  But was every day in the year all good or all bad? Why let the calendar decide?

To be in the moment, try this: instead of measuring your life in terms of years, treat each new day as a chance to make a positive change. You can be pretty sure the sun will rise, and the sun will set. How many other things in life can we be that sure of? Nature gives us a chance to be hopeful with each new day. 

Tomorrow morning, and each morning when you wake up, make a New Day Resolution. Stay focused on that all day long. And that's how you stay in the moment.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

All I Want for Christmas

An improv show is one of the easiest kinds of productions to put on because all you really need is a stage, a couple of willing, able actors, and an audience.

There is no set as such. I always tell my actors to create their set as they enter a scene. In other words, let the audience see where you are - if you're in a kitchen, start cooking or opening drawers or something. If you're in a bathroom, make yourself up in front of the mirror. And so on.

All I require is that the stage have two chairs Upstage Center. "Use these chairs if you need them," I say. If your scene finds you in a restaurant, or a car, or in a job interview, they could come in handy.

Today is December 26, and I am tidying up the stuff around the home. It overwhelms me. It never seems to end. We humans accumulate more and more. And nowhere is this more evident than at Christmastime, when we stress ourselves by giving and receiving the token gift.

This Christmas, it struck me more than in other years, that I do not get excited about "stuff". The best scenes in life are like good improv. You don't need a lavish set, costumes and all the "stuff". What makes a great improv scene is the content. The funny. The hidden meaning. The unknown ending. Not too different from life.

This Christmas I want to say to my friends and family, please don't give me "stuff". I don't need more stuff. Stuff collects dust, and will only stay behind after I'm gone, leaving someone else a lot of work to go through.

Give me you. Give me your original lines, your funny, your ear to listen, your observations to inspire and motivate me and keep me going. Give me memories to make me laugh and smile and want to see you again and again. Give me you. And two chairs.