Imaginary Workouts

No I’m not talking about all those sit-ups I do in my brain while my tukhus is firmly planted on my couch next to the bag of chips and guac that will be my downfall.  Nor the half marathon I imagine myself completing with nary a bead of sweat on my face.  No I’m talking about exercising the imagination muscle.  When we were kids, we used to play all the time, engaging our imagination at every turn.  Like every Catholic schoolkid, we played communion and used pickle chips for the host.  Star Trek was a big game in my family and my communicator was my rosary case that my grandmother had brought back from being blessed by the Pope in Rome.  I’m pretty sure she’d have a heart attack if she ever found out what I was using it for and my lack of veneration for it.   Cowboys and Indians were popular as was War and then of course we have Barbie and her fabulous life.  My brother used to get really mad at me for making GI Joe take Barbie out on a date but he had a car, Ken didn’t.  It may have been a Jeep that shot missiles my Mom promptly took away so we didn’t shoot our eyes out, but it was a car nonetheless and that trumps everything in the dating world.

I was reminded of playing pretend when I attended the Dan O’Day International Radio Creative and Production Summit last weekend in Los Angeles.  Dan always puts together a great weekend of really talented people and this year was no exception.  Richard Horvitz was leading a session on increasing your business by learning to play.  Using your imagination to flesh out who you were, where you were and what you wanted in the story.  He didn’t call it a script but a story.  That was an important shift right out of the box.  All scripts are stories, even the worst screaming/auto/retail script ever written, you just have to find it.  Once you find the story, you have to imagine who you are, where you are and what you want in the story.  You have to play pretend. Be willing to enter a second reality.  Kids do it so easily but once you grow into adulthood, out goes the imagination.  Like a muscle that’s been allowed to atrophy from nonuse, our ability to tap into our imagination gets harder and harder.  It takes practice to find it with ease.  Playing with kids is one way to do it.  But another is imagining what you’re not and then making it so.  Like saying I’m not blond, but I’m going to pretend I’m blond.  Going to the second reality again and again so it becomes easier each time.

Imagining I’ve got a flat stomach isn’t going to make it happen but seeing myself with that flat stomach makes the sit-ups easier to do.  So too will becoming that person in the story.  Now if I could just imagine my way to Warren Buffet’s fortune.

TMI

This means too much information.  Not in the way it’s usually used where someone reveals WAY too much information about their gastrointestinal tract, or their hemorrhoids or their fetishes.  You get the picture.  No the too much information I’m referring to is all the information that’s out there for our consumption.  The blogs (guilty!), message boards, e-blasts, e-mails, newsletters.  I am constantly bombarded with information about my industry and those working in it.  It’s hard to get through it all each day but I make sure I sort through it or it starts to build up.  Very often there’s some good stuff buried in the muck, tips and job possibilities.  But the flip side of this is it can all become one big distraction in the guise of work.  I read, sort and comment so I must be working right?

Wrong.  This is busy work that takes me away from the “just doing it” part.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in networking and marketing yourself.  I am my biggest cheerleader.  Biggest critic too but that’s a story for another day.  And I think that networking and marketing can be assisted by all this written communication.  But it all gets wrapped up and disguised as work when in reality it’s really not that connected to work.  Work, for me, is memorizing a new monologue, sending out an audition, learning a new scene for a class, practicing my movements, reading a play, improving my vocal strength.  While this is fun to do, it’s also not as much of a distraction as doing all that other stuff is.  And as I’ve mentioned before, I’m lazy.  I really don’t want to have to do the work.  I just want it easy.  I guess I’m a candidate for that ship on WALL-e.  You know, the people that move around all day in their floating barcaloungers sipping liquid stuff that makes you fat.  So paying attention to all this incoming data is like sipping that liquid stuff, it’ll make you fat with not-so-important info that slows you down and keeps you from doing what you should be doing.  Which is the work.  And my work is fun for heavens sake.  It really is.  I just need to unplug for a while to remember that fact.

Fabulous Hair

I am a devoted reader of Seth Godin’s Blog.  I have it delivered to my inbox every day.  Which reminds me I need to let all my 4 readers know I have the ability to do that for them as well.  Anywho, I love how he looks at things.  He takes a situation, turns it upside down, inside out and backwards and helps me to look at something in a completely different way.  And in doing so, I break a little further out of the mold of “I’ve always done it that way”.  He’s also great at introducing me to new thoughts, new ideas and often new words. And you know I’m a word junky.  I love collecting them.  One of his recent blogs was about the word Sprezzatura, which is an Italian word meaning the ability to do your craft or work without visible effort.  In his words, it’s a combination of elan (another great word) and grace and class.  It’s the golfer finessing a shot under a tree but over a bunker to land on the green 4 feet from the cup, the surgeon who calmly and precisely opens a chest, inserts a pacemaker into a heart and restores normal rhythm to a struggling patient, or the film actor who take after take hits his mark exactly while delivering his lines slightly different from the take before, thus giving the director options when he edits the film.  Or for me, it’s my hairdresser Elizabeth who blows dries my hair so fabulously it has that come hither look about it.  I sigh in resignation each time I watch her at her task, determined to figure out what she’s doing that I’m not because no matter how hard I try, I just can’t duplicate her results.  One time I blurted out “Now why can’t I do that?”  She chuckled and said “well first of all my arms aren’t connected to your body” -good point for her as I have a hard time reaching the back.  She continued “And it could be the fact that I’ve been doing this for 15 years” which made me think, yes but I’ve been blow drying this hair for 3 decades and it’s the same head and hair I’ve always had so why can’t I do as well as she does?  I came to realize that the difference is how we approach the task.  She is a professional who is trying to please a client so she has learned the proper techniques and motions to create “Hollywood” hair as I like to call it.  Me, I just want to get it done and dry as I have 35 other things that need my attention once I’m finished so it’s a chore to get completed, not my passion.  If it was really that important, I’d practice over and over to get it right which is what I do each time I audition or perform.  It’s still not at the Sprezzatura point, but I’m getting there.  And now I know what to call it when I reach that point of effortlessness.