On Saturday evening, in my first live performance in three years, I found myself on stage improvising a monologue, when my scene partner forgot to come onstage.
It was dark backstage. I had to wait until the dancers finished their duet, so no one would see me enter. Black out. Cue lights. Enter. No scene partner. On stage. Can't turn back now. Nothing to do but, improvise. This is happening. Just go with it. This is fun! This is my moment.
Fortunately, my improv lined up well with the actual scene.
"Where the heck is he? He is so late. I can't believe this!..." I say, stomping around.
About 30 seconds later, my scene partner shows up.
"Where's the craps game?" he says.
"It's about 10 minutes walk from here!" I say.
"Which way?" he says.
"This way!" I say, pulling his tie and tossing him through the curtain.
Amazing how one mistake really brought the scene life. Nothing like live theatre to turn up the intensity of an otherwise planned conversation.
How much of our days are planned? How much improvised?
We spend most of our days with a schedule and a list of to-dos, but it almost never turns out how we planned it. Most of the time we are hit by moments when we have to improvise, go with the flow, and make a choice. Will I panic and run off stage? Will I pray for a black out and a re-do? Or will I trust myself to carry the scene?
It took me fractions of a second to go through a cycle of shock, fear, anger, acceptance, and excitement, but when I made the choice to carry the scene, I felt more alive than ever.
"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry." - Robert Burns
May our best-laid plans go awry and leave room for what awaits. Dear partner, thanks for being late and giving me the gift of this valuable insight!