Giving up Control (and Loving It)! Six!

photo: playing catch

I have fond memories of playing catch with my dad as a kid. Often it would be after he got home from work, and he’s have something on the grill. I felt connected with him in a special way.

I’m a parent now – of a fifteen year old and I’m learning what it’s like to be in this new season of parenting. She’s not a little kid any more and yet she is not an adult. How do I not dominate too much, but also not be too passive in permitting everything, or giving no boundaries?

Well here’s what’s great about improv and what I touched on in my last post. Improv is

embodied learning. So we don’t just learn cognitively about the idea of ”giving up control”, but we embody it in the improv games. AND because we embody it, the learning has a much greater potential to globalize in our whole self and way of living.

There’s a basic improv game called ”One Word Story” or ”Word-At-A-Time”. You get a partner. Pick someone to start and you create a story one word at a time. Like many improv games, it’s not about trying to come up with the most clever word imaginable, you might often be saying ”the”, ”and”, ”walked”, or ”blue”. Not too exciting. However, what is exciting and what improv gives us as a gift is the FLOW that begins to happen when you get in sync with your partner. As one of my past improv teachers used to say, “The answer is in your partner’s eyes” (not stuck up in the ceiling tiles) ; ) It’s quite interesting how (if you are ready for it) eye contact does totally allow you and your partner to really get rolling.

And here’s one key thing that we learn as we play this game. You can’t control where it’s going. You only have half of the words. And that’s good.

If we are in the midst of our story and you say “lost”…and I say “your”… and I think you may say “wallet”, but you say ”dog”, it’s critical that I flow with what you DID give, rather than what I wanted. The degree that we do that is connected to how attached we are to what we want to see happen.

If you are really attached to that wallet being in the story, you may try to force it in, but it doesn’t really fit with the flow. However, if you are holding your desire lightly (non-attachment) (picture holding a bird with an open palm) then you are fine if it doesn’t come into the story.

So in this game we can’t be too dominant. We won’t find the flow.

AND, we also can’t be too passive.

The One Word story game works when both people are present, focused, with ideas that are coming, and held with open hands. It works when both people aware of the fact that the aim here is to connect with your partner, to find the flow, to discover the joy of creating something together.

What’s quite amazing (and I’m coming more and more to expect this), is that I’m finding I’m much more able to ”get in the flow” with my daughter than I was a few years ago. To not dominate and control. And to also to not be too passive. And I’d say that a lot of that is credited to the gift of improv in my life.

I’ve learned to be present. And through that I’m teaching her to be present. And we are both discovering the joy of being in the flow and seeing what we create together.


If you’d like to get your embodied learning groove on through an improv workshop, visit my NEW Workshops and Testimonials to read more.



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