Connection First, Logic Later.
There was a theme to the day yesterday. Besides rain.
It was Fun.
How much fun can you have?
This was the question posed to me by my movement teacher at the start of the day. The challenge was this: get across the room in slow motion to a 6 minute song. The first round was to be done in a specific manner, very focused and extremely linear. The second round we were instructed to have as much fun as we could. This resulted in a mess of bodies tangling across the room and stories unfolding complete with facial expressions and interactions. Yes, all done in slow motion to a 6 minute song. And this is what I took out of it:
Giving yourself permission to have fun enables a better story.
Our teacher pointed out that we were all so much more committed to the exercise, to the story, to each other when we were having fun. This isn't to say there wasn't a lesson in following the rules and embarking on the linear journey. But there was more life and much more excitement when we added fun to the mix. When we discussed 'fun' at the end of the class, it was brought up that fun can be a pressure of its own making. When you set out to have fun, often we place expectations and desires onto said fun, and it no longer becomes fun when you try to manifest 'fun'. (I will saying the word 'fun' a lot here so get used to it.) But this idea inspired me. Sure, it's easy to think:
I'm going to have fun.
But then we get in our heads about what that fun should look like. Are other people having fun? Is their fun more fun than my fun?! I realized, you can't worry about other people's fun. Although, I did point out that when you dance like no one is watching but then watch someone dance, it inspires you to do that for yourself. So maybe there can't be a comparison of fun, merely an inspiration of it. So this idea of fun followed me through the day. I set off to voice over class right after and oddly enough, the lesson that popped out to me most prominently was this:
Connection First, Logic Later.
After slaying the 'got milk' copy handed to me, I pondered in my chair for the remainder of class what this lesson meant. It's pretty clear: connect to whatever you are doing with your heart, then add your brain to make sense of it all. As an actor, you can tell when someone doesn't have their heart in what they are saying because when asked about it, they can't make sense of it. It is empty words. But when someone puts themselves in the words and connects to the language and the story they are sharing, the world opens up. The story comes alive. The character is standing in front of you! So the question I took with me from the morning remained:
How much fun could I have with this?
In everything I did for the remainder of the day, I asked myself this question. Even while I picked up copies, I found a way to have fun while waiting in line. I found a way to have fun in traffic singing to show tunes (which does NOT happen often, mind you). Asking myself how much fun I could have enabled me to be more present. I no longer was concerned with saying the right thing or doing the 'right' thing because I was open to receiving whatever life offered me, because no matter what, I would have fun with it. So I took this mantra with me in my acting class, and after receiving some totally unexpected praise from my new class, I realized it was because I just allowed myself to have fun! I wasn't concerned with the proper choices or the way I looked, I was having a blast playing a ratchet addict professing my disdain for my cheating husband! Fun!
When a few classmates asked me to get drinks after class (think of the scene in Burlesque when the dancers finally ask Christina to get pizza), I hesitated at the thought of connecting with new people and being late to my already made plans. Then it hit me, how much fun can I have?
So I went and it was brilliant! Making friends with a new class of actors is like deciding the pecking order in the family. You quickly discover how everyone fits together and what flavor of personalities is in the mix. So I had fun. I asked my favorite types of questions and I just listened. And I slowly smiled as I looked around at the new blend of people that I would be spending my time with. And it's all because I just set out to have fun. It wasn't a serious affair and it wasn't heavy. Just me being open and present and giving permission to myself to have a blast.
Which led me to the end of the night, where I managed to make a dear friends birthday before midnight. These boys are my brothers, so even though I don't see them often, when I do, it's like family. And although I was tired and it was late, I committed to ending the day having fun. Don't get me wrong. Fun doesn't have to be partying or some over the top activity, it's a state of mind more than anything else. Sitting in a circle and finding mundane things to laugh is a great example of fun! And that's exactly what we did. So when I drove home at 2 am and blasted my favorite song of the moment (watch out karaoke, I am comin for ya), I was still having fun. I had many moments of accomplishment, praise, connection and joy over the entire day. And I have to thank the question for it all.
How much fun can I have?
So if you have a big meeting, a scary audition, a group outing or even a chore to do, ask yourself this question and see what possibilities open up.
You might just have a movie moment and share a sing along with a stranger on the highway or you may realize the person you never thought you'd speak to in a group is actually a hidden soul mate.
Heck, your whole day may turn into one giant montage. It's not quite the same as just rolling with the punches, but more like rolling out the punches and making a dessert pizza with them. It's using all the colors in the crayon box to color outside the lines. Do it.