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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

The Craft of Improvisation

bill murray photo: Bill Murray bill-murray.jpg
Inspired by this as posted by art therapist and coach Jennifer Gildred on her Facebook page since it speaks volumes about the courage it takes to be visible
Bill Murray  -on his acting teacher Del Close.
“Well, he was a guy who had great knowledge of the craft of improvisation. And he lived life in a very rich manner, to excess sometimes. He had a whole lot of brain stuck inside of his skull. Beyond being gifted, he really engaged in life. He earned a lot. He made more of himself than he was given. Came out of Manhattan, Kansas, and ended up hanging …out with the Beats. He was incredibly gracious to your talent and always tried to further it. He got people to perform beyond their expectations. He really believed that anyone could do it if they were present and showed respect. There was a whole lot of respect. He taught lots and lots of people very effectively. He taught people to commit. Like: “Don’t walk out there with one hand in your pocket unless there’s something’ in there you’re going to bring out.” You gotta commit. You’ve gotta go out there and improvise and you’ve gotta be completely unafraid to die. You’ve got to be able to take a chance to die. And you have to die lots. You have to die all the time. You’re going’ out there with just a whisper of an idea. The fear will make you clench up. That’s the fear of dying. When you start and the first few lines don’t grab and people are going like, “What’s this? I’m not laughing and I’m not interested,” then you just put your arms out like this and open way up and that allows your stuff to go out. Otherwise it’s just stuck inside you.”
Jennifer goes on to ask: “So my question (to myself) and to you:  Are you letting your good stuff stay stuck inside?  What helps you let it out for all the world to enjoy you more? One way for me is definitely playful improvisation.”
My instinctive reaction was to say, “Of course I pour all my good stuff out there, holding nothing back.”  That may be how it appears from an outside perspective, but on the inside, I am sometimes tremulous. The monkey mind has a field day with that one. “Play it safe,” it screeches, hurling a mushy banana. “Don’t reveal too much,” it wags its hairy finger at me. “What will people think if you share THAT  about yourself?,”  it howls wildly.  And yet, I witness others in my life who ‘dare to bare’ emotionally and verbally, risking rejection in the service of authenticity. Playing it safe and small, tiptoeing out into the world keeps me where I am now, which is ok, but the call of something more, as expressed in my friend Karen Drucker’s song, is irresistible. Do I answer it or remain pseudo safely ensconced in what is familiar and not too terribly risky?  It is the child who felt different and otherworldly, so she held back at times, within the push-pull energy of wanting to celebrate it as uniqueness. It is the teenager who felt awkward and not quite cool enough to hang with the ‘in-crowd’, but covered well, since all these years later, some of her high school friends thought she had it all together. It is the seasoned woman who spent decades in relationship caregiver mode, who now finds it easier to be a relationship expert than in a relationship. It is the professional writer and speaker who desires center stage to share the messages she has opened to, who sometimes wants to hide behind the curtain, lest she be revealed as an imposter.
I ask myself this morning, “Am I willing to put myself on the line, risking whateveh…. in order to be fully present?” It is so much easier to be the wind beneath the wings as a journalist and interview notables than to BE one. Although I am not afraid of physical death, I have faced what I would consider emotional obliteration and never want to return to that mode. That was so long ago and yet as I remember it, the feelings come rushing to the surface as if it was yesterday. Can I improvise, using the best of what I have learned in the interceding few decades to ‘unstick’?
 Are you willing to answer the call?  Just imagine the standing ovation.
http://youtu.be/GmZYWOgv0eI The Call of Something More (Karen Drucker) as performed by Cathy Angell
http://www.jennifergildredarttherapy.com
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