I was in Chicago Saturday night to hear one of my pieces performed. I left on Saturday morning at 6 AM and was home by 10 AM Sunday. That didn’t give me much time to shake off my travel anxieties and really notice the amazing experiences I was having.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I get caught up in stories I make up in my head. Sometimes, if I am anxious enough, I start living in the fantasy of those stories and miss the actual things happening in the world. Fortunately I have several ways to wake up from my trance so I can experience the joys available to me in the now.
So picture me on a Chicago Blue Line Train early Saturday morning, going from the airport to rendezvous with a man I’ve never met somewhere in the city who’s going to show me around. I am anxious and thinking: Will he show up? Will we have a good conversation? Will my day be fun? Thinking about everything except where I am right now. Here are some ways I woke myself up while I sat there that you might find interesting or useful.
I pretended that I was five years old. I couldn’t remember my history, and I had no real idea what life was like ahead. Everything on the train and out the window suddenly looked interesting.
I pretended that I was really from Chicago. That made me look at the city with curious familiarity. I saw everything differently.
I pretended that I was dead and in heaven! I was extremely curious to know what this strange place was like. I left my past behind and surrendered to the unknowable things that were going to happen to me.
All of these fantasies have something in common: They erased my history and they suggested different futures that I couldn’t guess. The result was that I saw things outside of my story and therefore noticed what I hadn’t before.
What does this have to do with creativity and performing? Imagine you are about to give a recital and you are terrified. Wouldn’t it be helpful to play one of these scenarios and give your recital as a different person without a history to live up to, or a future to dread?
Imagine you have writer’s block. Wouldn’t it be interesting to write as a completely different person? Might that free you to say and do things you’ve been unable to do before?
Have you ever played these games? Have you ever pretended that east was north and looked around at how different everything looks? How do you break your trance?