Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Element of Surprise

A large part of my life is improvisational as a conscious choice. I try to not over-plan whenever possible. Of course, being in Imminent Show Mode means I have a lot less free time for spontaneity, but I still try to leave blocks of unstructured time for whimsy and serendipity.

Ah! The Element of Surprise
The Element of Surprise

Part of that desire is based on my experience with contact improv dance, though the roots are deeper in my experience. During the latter part of my martial arts days when I - like seemingly every martial artist - spent a bunch of time and energy thinking about my training and "what worked". As Bruce Lee stated when developing Jeet Koon Do, "Use what works and discard the rest." I started thinking about sparring and my approach to it. I began to realize that it was very difficult to control a fight - control it - if your opponent was anywhere near your level of ability. There were simply too many variables for control. Rather I saw myself as "guiding chaos" with a technique here and a technique there. While never a threat to any serious fighter, I began to have more fun sparring and got better at it.

After I hung up my gloves and moved from fighting to dancing, particularly the contact improv form, I realized that all movement and life itself could be smoother and gentler by employing that same thought process. Basically it boils down to understanding that there are many influences on one's life, and you cannot control all of them. What you can do is be flexible and roll with changes as they careen into your life. Rather than get upset and angry when your car breaks down (as mind did recently) just understand that cars break down, and almost never at a convenient moment. Rather than waste energy getting angry, assess what your options are now that the car is kaput. Can you get where you need to go another way (taxi, bus, bicycle, on foot) or reschedule the trip? Sure you might be delayed, and it might cost more (or less) than if you were in your car, but the failure of the car does not have to be the failure of everything.

As I have let this influence my life more and more, I find that I have more moments of "Ah!", experiencing the element of surprise in a positive way rather than negative. Give it a try. Push in your clutch, and shift your paradigm. Have more "Ah!" in your life.

1 comment:

  1. Learning how to dance solo salsa requires that you master the footwork and hip movement. This is the time for partners to do their dance acts individually and truly "shine".


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