17 Jan 2012

Dave Morris, at TEDxVictoria:

Improvisation is a process. It is a way of making a thing. It is not a product that I can give or show you. What I do is improvise… theatre, or hip hop, or explosive devices.

What do I do?

I sell computers. If the need arises, I can twist this do-ing into something that sounds more impressive or official or makes me appear to be “superior”, but the very core of the task that I spend most of my time doing is selling computers.

This is not where I imagined myself after university and it certainly is not where I imagine myself to be ten years from now. There are things that I would like to do with my life that have absolutely nothing to do with Apple computers or how to fix an iPhoto library.

Most people fall into this at some point in their lives. We allow work to be the way by which we define ourselves: “I am a computer salesperson”. But where I clock my 40 hours to get a paycheque does not define me any more than the bed in which I clock another 40 hours. I need money to live in the same way that I need sleep. These are two of the rules of this game.

The part that I have forgotten, the part that Dave Morris’ Way of Improvisation has reminded of, is that getting caught up in the rules is the only way to lose.

I am going to die one day.1 Whether I get a good sleep every night. Whether I work my 9-5, Monday to Friday. Eventually, despite following all the rules, I will cease to exist. That game is unwinnable.

No, the game that I am currently losing is the one that I have chosen for myself. The game that I call “being Steven”, where I am defined not by where I work, but by what I choose to do. Selling computers is a rule in that game and, for now, I am following it. But writing this blog?; penning my novel?; eking out scraps of poetry?; spending free time with the people I care about? These are the parts of the game that matter, that are play, that are how I “win”.

Thank you, Dave, for reminding me the way of improvisation. For reminding me that I get to choose the process by which I experience the world around me and that I should choose one that fulfills and satisfies me.

  1. Presumably. This is one of those facts that is unknowable. The only way in which it can be proven is for me to die, at which point I will no longer be around to accept the evidence.