“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”
– James Joyce
* * *
”One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.”
– A. A. Milne
I. Physicality to Mentality
We are continually floating.
Although, in reality, this illusion is generated by shoe soles and car tires. Both are, in fact, filled with pockets of air; we are all technically floating. Floating isn’t as much of a state of mind as Cloud 9 is, so this tangible revelation shouldn’t be much of a surprise. It shouldn’t be taken for granted either.
There is a margin of error, however. Due to the slightest acceptance of these air pockets, the notion can balloon to a degree where it can throw one off guard. We feel mighty. We feel infallible. We keep going with what we have. Hubris gets in the way, comes into play, and to error is inevitable.
During the last Syracuse Improv Collective workshop, one of the exercises required us to react extremely to a statement. The statements were mundane one-liners. Our reaction had to have been various degrees of rage or sorrow, either of the two, which enabled us to practice breaking the routine. Extreme actions or reactions as a result of a simplistic phrase or action can catalyze superb outcomes for scenes. The goal is to justify this extreme reaction.
Emily walked over to me, and she simply said, “It’s Tuesday.” Needless to say, cutting to the chase, I didn’t verbally justify why the day being Tuesday upset me. My reaction entailed my grabbing a rope from a box (charades) and pulling over a chair. I proceeded to tie a noose and throw it over a beam. Stepping upon the chair, my intention was to slide off, and fake the hanging while my feet were upon the ground. Yet, those deceiving pockets of air combined with my being caught up in the moment essentially took me to new heights. To make the scene a bit more realistic, my feet were positioned on the edge of the seat, and–you guessed it–I slipped.
My improv growth has helped me realize that the physical comedy route is a great direction for me. My peers, when physicality comes into play, are not surprised. Falling on the floor, getting slapped, and being tripped amongst other actions are not a big deal to me. However, I found myself in an Oh, shit! moment, and I attempted to brace myself. I fell on top of the chair, breaking the back of the seat in half and off the metal frame, which yielded a tennis-ball-sized bruise on my outer thigh. It smarted temporarily, and the quick pain was easily walked off. My peers reacted at the last minute since they expected the physical act; their realization came with delay, regarding the nature of my personal dismay after the fact of my breaking the chair.
We all laughed.
Mike said, “But you didn’t justify your reasoning.”
We all laughed again.
At that half second, the moment where bracing my person was a necessity, there was an epiphany that blossomed in my mind. This was accepted after walking off my minor scuff.
I love this shit–physical improv comedy.
This workshop though the Syracuse Improv Collective is where I am supposed to be. Stepping out of my comfort zone is a constant work-in-progress; however, there is ultimate elation generated because of this newfound hobby. The appreciation is weighted–my peers and instructors are to thank. I simply only step out of my comfort zone, so these individuals are the catalysts to feed off of, resulting in my current happiness and positivity.
Progression happens when one surrounds themselves with good people, and the ability to make and learn from mistakes isn’t buffered; mistakes should be embraced in the raw.
II. Mentality to Physicality
Yet, there are things that improv cannot fix… well, immediately anyway. There is such personal growth involved that it cannot be measured out. It’s a gift to be wrapped, but the wrapping paper keeps curling up on you, returning to it’s full potential state around that cardboard center. Just when you think you have it: retraction.
The interpersonal and personal skills are still being tuned, because I am putting myself through at test. At the coffee shop the other day, a familiar face was hanging out amongst the din and racket from the French Club, which seems to overtake Freedom of Espresso. Yes, they are very nice people; however, banter is banter. Walking by, speculatively and almost dropping the piece of biscotti from my plate, she looked at me and smiled. It wasn’t because of my almost dropping the biscotti–that would have either worked significantly for or against my favor (most likely against)–that she smiled at me. My perception, the light radiating from her eyes, indicated that it was a sincere smile. Maybe she even thought I was cute.
However, most of my time spent at the cafe was unfocused. Between the story I was working on and the deciding on how to start a conversation with this girl only left my mind baffled. Every time I thought of a charming interjection, she got up to get asomething or run to the bathroom. Two and a half times (yes, a half) she shifted in the chair and looked back at me, and she shot me a smile. Due to Nature giving me the finger, my looking up just happened to occur at the perfect serendipitous time and with the perfect delay: essentially I caught her looking over at me.
It was cute.
Her style is impeccable: her hair was just slightly dishevelled, her clothing defined comfortable without having to sing to the level of sweatpants and a hoodie, and she was classy. What was most captivating about her
the fact that she writes. She pulled out a journal or an adgenda. She broke out and began to write letters.
She actually writes letters.
Yes, that type of classy.
She had an old-school aura about her. This, along with the glare from her eyes and her fashionable smile (it was slight and not too much), defined her as captivating.
That word is a favorite of mine, and it would be great to just tell a girl that she is captivating. That’s the type of woman I am looking for: captivating.
Then, again, the word goes to my head, taints my thoughts, and I ultimately lose confidence. In the bathroom, looking in the mirror, it’s
very incredibly easy to tell convince yourself that she’s out of your league and she’ll never give you the time of day and you’re just so pathetic simply due to the fact you are talking–telepathically–to your reflection.
The water upon the face does not do the trick.
If she is as captivating as she appears–this goes for any woman in general–you hope that she’s the type that agrees to immediately take your hand when Sinatra, Martin, Krall, Connick, Prima, or any jazz swooner, or Buble, or Nora Jones, or anyone providing the slightest swing in their song, and you both dance the song away.
Those three-minute ditties. That moment is the memory maker.
But the lights from that daydream turn on, and you find yourself back in your seat, and you correct your posture before going back to whatever you are reading or writing. When it comes time for her to leave, you sit back or make some last ditch effort to start conversation. It turns out alright, the moment. Nothing happens, and opportunity passes by. Nature is driving, flipping you the bird as she drives by.
If you want to meet someone romantically, do so. What is the worst that they will say? No? She may appreciate a compliment. Who cares? The weak attempt always ends in disappointment. Write your own story, they say. Just do it, they say. Don’t regret anything, they say.
Peace out, kid. You’re back at your middle school dance, sitting alone. The opportunity to ask the girl you’re interested in to dance has passed. You’re done and waiting for some parent, the one whose turn it was to carpool the kids, to pick you and friends up. It’s time to bide your time in the gym, playing basketball-related games.
You’re left, wondering, sitting in your chair, and occasionally correcting your posture for an audience of no one.