Improv, Stories, Motorcycles, and Life

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately (well, probably more like a lot) about leadership and living a great life.  I’ve been feeling that my life has hit a plateau, and I’ve been searching for the next adventure, the next chapter.  And I don’t mean the next bring-your-own-everything-to-survive-7-day-kayak-around-the-Bowron-Lakes adventure.  I mean the next adventure in my everyday work life.  What do I want to take on that will push me outside my comfort zone?  I’m not sure why I like it out there, but I do.  Sometimes I wish I would just settle for a rut and coast along with my blinders on.   But I know that that is not realistic nor productive, and I’d just get restless as I am now.  So my quest continues.

This quest took me to the Storyline Conference in San Diego.  To be honest, the main draw to this conference was that it got me out of an Edmonton winter that was wearing me down.  So, while I wasn’t too sure what it was going to be about, some of the guest speakers really intrigued me.  Jia Jang, the 100 Days of Rejection Therapy guy; Tripp Crosby of the comedy duo Tyler & Tripp; Anne Lamott, a quirky and hilarious writer; John Richmond, a human trafficker and civil rights prosecutor, and not to mention a free concert with two up and coming musicians, Ben Rector and Steve Moakler.

I came away with two new insights, along with some other lessons (and some much-appreciated sun and seaside time).  One insight came from an improv workshop I attended.  Because there is no script in improv, you have to make it up as you go which can be scary.  To do good improv I learned, you have to do four things: live in the moment, listen well, make bold choices, and commit to them.  Life is like improv, says Tripp, there is no script.  You wake up each day with a blank slate, and to make the most of life, you have to live in the moment, listen well, make bold choices, and commit to them.  Which can be scary.

The other thing I learned is that nobody wants to read stories with boring characters who live boring, mundane lives.  Actually I already knew that, but when our session leader equated that to living our lives, the proverbial light bulb flicked on.  Who wants to be the boring character living a boring life?  Do I step boldly into my story or shrink back from it? When I am pursuing my dreams and challenges confront me, do I hit the brakes or hit the gas?  Like riding a motorcycle, when you get into trouble, hitting the gas instead of the brakes often straightens the bike out.  Same with life.

Have I figured out what my next chapter is going to be about?  No, not exactly.  But I do have a vision.  So I’m going to hit the gas and keep working towards it because another thing I learned is that visions don’t need the details worked out in advance.  Then it isn’t a vision anymore, it’s simply an errand.  And now, I don’t feel as restless or anxious about my next adventure anymore…well, OK, maybe just a little.

About Sherry Langland

I have been teaching English for 15 years and am passionate about teaching students to read critically, think critically, and live purposefully. I am also the lead teacher for our junior high department and am thankful to be part of such a dedicated group of teachers who are committed to collaborating around the most important part of our job: student learning. My biggest blessing is being the mother of 2 young men who are in their 20s and discovering their purpose.
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2 Responses to Improv, Stories, Motorcycles, and Life

  1. TechPudding says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful post, Sherry! I want to hear even more about your trip. One of the greatest things I learned in Drama was to accept the things that are offered and to offer as much as possible, especially in the improv space. You can equate that tip to life as well. Can’t wait to see what the day brings!

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