“I heard ‘pineapple,’ when the lights come up!”
Pineapple reminds me of Spongebob Squarepants and Spongebob reminds me of washing dishes with sponges. I imagine a scene where I’m frustrated as I’m loading the dishwasher at home. I could initiate with, “Son, I’m so tired of scrubbing your dishes after you have all your friends over!”
I walk out on stage to begin my dish-washing space work, but my scene partner beats me to the initiating-punch, holding her jaw and appearing to be in pain: “Sister, thanks for coming with me to the dentist. I’m still really scared from last time.”
I have a decision to make. If caught up and fixated on the scene I thought I was about to create, I can get stuck, and potentially negate my scene partner. Something awkward could follow, “I’m not your sister, I’m your parent, and we need to discuss these dishes first.” Or, I can hold onto my idea for a later scene initiation, and arrive with a yes to the suggestion my partner just made. I can release the outcome I anticipated, and release the assumption I held as I entered the stage.
I tend to have trouble releasing my assumptions of how my day or my life will go; I make plans, and, like the A Team, I love it when a plan comes together. I can get so lost in my plan for the day that I miss an opportunity to connect with the person in front of me. I can get so fixated on where I planned my life to be by now that I fail to appreciate the invitations and opportunities in the present season.
In life we are confronted with surprises and loss and transition. Seasons change, life is ever-transforming through cycles of death and new life. Through this ebb and flow, we create and release and create again our forever-improvised lives. Writer Natalie Goldberg teaches, “The real life is in writing, not in reading the same ones over and our again for years.” Living (and improv) teaches us to celebrate the muscles we develop in the creating and releasing process.
There is abundance in the process of creation and release. In improv we practice embracing fully the creating moment, then releasing it, moving down the road to create again, and again, and again.
Releasing my assumptions allows me to be fully present to the invitations in front of me; I become more equipped to live life with a sense of playfulness and resilience, both of which require the courage to keep creating something meaningful.
If I can release some space in my day plan to embrace some interruptions, I become a calmer, more present, and kinder human.
If I can release who I expect someone to be, I can better see and hear them, I can embrace who they are.
If I can release how I expected my life would turn out, I can nurture resilience and arrive to the wonder and surprise of life.
The more I can release specific expectations and embrace where the creating journey leads, the more I open myself up to the invitations in front of me. In this process of creation and release, improv equips us to embrace life fully: from the abundance and surprise, from the disappointment to the magic, from the loss to the adventure.
“Don’t worry, sister. This dentist is highly rated on Yelp, and I’ll be here the whole time.”
Evey McKellar is a Level 4 Improv student, a writer and UMC clergy. She works for a nonprofit, lives in Dallas, and loves Cane Rosso.