Improvising through the pain

Dear spiritual improvisers, this should not be news to anyone, but life is not easy. Everyone has problems big and small. The power to overcome problems can only come from within. The only thing we can control is our response to the problems life throws at us. You can worry and let the problems destroy you or you can let it go. Monty Python sings "always look on the bright side of life." Beyonce dedicates an entire album to her grandmother's adage, "if life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Taylor Swift tells us to just "shake it off." You can also turn your pain into comedy. Sam Wasson in his book, Nation writes, "That's what so much of comedy is - problems."

But you may say, my problems are serious and certainly nothing to laugh at. As we go through our life problems they can, indeed, seem overpowering. Well meaning friends may say things like, "one day we'll all have a good laugh about this." That may be a hard thing to hear, and I don't suggest quoting that to a friend in pain, but it can be true. An old adage is that the formula for comedy is tragedy plus time. How much time varies. How many times have you heard a joke or a comedian that makes you groan a little only to get the push back, "What? Too soon?" You can add another piece to that formula, distance. Mel Brooks said that "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into a hole and die."  It's why we love to laugh at America's funniest home videos when some poor guy has an horrendous fall. Yeah, its funny when it happens to him but not to me.

Another aspect of problems is that it forces us to come up with solutions. There would be no science, or math, or theater for that matter, without problems. Advancements are made as we strive to solve a problem or make something better. A good plot in the theater requires some form of conflict; which is another word for problem. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. All plots require a problem to be solved. In life we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. No pain, no gain.

Right now the world is a mess. Covid-19 is still killing thousands. Politicians are still working for their best interest rather than to world's. People need to get back to work. Quarantine is making us all all a little crazy. What are we to do? Improvise.

The basic rules of improvise:
* Yes, And. You can't change what you've been given but you can add your own unique gifts, talents and ideas. Let go of your agenda and be part of the group solution.
* Listen. Spend more time listening to and understanding those around you. Don't make it all about you. Respect others. Connect!
*  Play at the highest level of your intelligence. Be smart, think things through, don't go for the low-hanging fruit, don't be crude, watch your mouth.
*  Don't ask questions, make statements. This means don't pass the buck and expect everyone else to come up with the ideas. What ever the problem is, be part of the solution.
*  There are NO mistakes, only opportunities. Don't give up and throw in the towel. You can always make another choice and improve the situation.
*  Be real. Drop the cynicism, stop play acting and putting on a mask. Be open to your feelings and of the people around you.

Problems will always come. Some will seem big, some will seem small. You have the power within you to work through them. Jesus tells us not to worry. Buddha tells us not to worry. Improv tells us not to worry. Just stay in, stay connected, be real, and breath.


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