Monday, August 3, 2020

Life as Improv

There are no instructions for life. Not really. 

Now, I'm a Christian, and I happen to believe in the truth of the Bible. And certainly, there is wisdom in there on how to live well. How to serve God and others, how to love dangerously. But just living? Paying the bills, and being an adult and raising headstrong teenagers? Building a business, dealing with people when you don't want to, knowing when to stop going to the laundromat and just buy a new dryer, creating a workable schedule to fit everything you need to do, everything you want to do, and everything you really ought to do into the finite time we actually have?

I'm just making this up as I go along. And the scary thing is, I think we all are. 

There's an element of chaos in this life of ours, a world that doesn't always behave the way we'd like it to, things that happen that destroy our best-laid plans. I heard someone say once that no strategy survives the battlefield. And if we're being honest with ourselves, every single day is a new battle, and every single day we're adapting, reshaping our plans, rerouting. 

I'm trying my best just to be a good husband, good father, live a life of kindness and gratitude, show mercy and charity and humility. And most days, I don't even know how to do that perfectly. 

There was a time I thought I had it figured out. I had a career I loved in an industry I knew I wanted to retire from. My wife had a great job. We had bought a house. We weren't out of the woods financially, but we had a solid plan. We were adulting, and Had It Together. 

And then I lost my job. There I was, doing my part, playing the role... and then someone came in and stepped over my lines with dialogue that just wasn't in the script. And that's when I realized: That's Life. We're all players in this ridiculous improv comedy and the best thing we can do is to look at what's in front of us and say, "yes, and..."

And then Covid came along and changed our economy, our relationships, our travel plans, our daily interactions. Yes. And. 

I'm in my forties and I really have no idea what the hell I'm doing. We're all just riffing here, waiting on the Chaos to say its lines so we can pick up the act from there and decide where to lead the story next. 

If anyone tells you differently, that they have it Figured Out, that they know the secret key to unlock life and live it just exactly how you want it, they are either liars or fools and either way not someone worth listening to. 

The secret is, there is no secret. At best, what we have is acceptance. An understanding that reality doesn't care whether you want to go camping or buy a car or sleep in. Maybe you'll get to do it, and maybe not. But at least, we can understand that truth and learn to live with it as best we can. To take what life gives us and choose not to give up, but to accept what is and determine to make the best of it. To say, "Yes, this is what life is. And this is what I'm going to do about it. "

Shakespeare famously said, "all the world's a stage." He just didn't get around to mentioning that the script is trash before we even read the first line. The world may be a stage, but life isn't a play: it's improv. Performance Art. And no matter in what role you've been cast, you're eventually going to have to dump the script and do your best to build your story up from whatever happens next. Just remember: Yes. And. 

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