Earlier tonight I was with my Tongue & Groove family, T&G being the spontaneous theater company I've been involved in since its inception four -- five? -- years ago. It's a wonderful bunch of talented people, but more than that, they're really good friends and supporters, like that awesome family you always wished you had. We hadn't been together in a while, so before we began rehearsal (and yes, we do need to "rehearse" for improvisation by working on our skills, developing new forms, etc.) we sat around and caught up in our "check in", during which we try to sum up what's been going on with us lately and how we're feeling at that moment. It can get very emotional, very funny and it's enormously helpful on a number of levels.
And at the end of my check-in, describing what I've been through lately -- going through the holidays with a smaller family than last year, the "procedure" and its aftermath, the fact that I had cancer, albeit non-invasive cancer -- at the end of my check-in I tried to put into words how I was feeling about it all. But I couldn't sum it up in a couple of words, certainly not the usual emotional words: happy, angry, scared...
It occurred to me that what I am, in fact, feeling is something like calm, a peacefulness, a willingness to just allow what's going on to go on, to step back and observe and see what I might learn from this or that experience. At the very least I'm perfectly content to just wait and see what comes up, instead of trying to slap a label on how I'm feeling.
Which put me in mind of Pema Chodron, who has a wonderful observation in her book, Start Where You Are, where she talks about having the rug pulled out from under you, or pulling your own rug out from under you, to change your static pattern. She suggests doing this by just "letting go, lightening up, being more gentle, and not making such a big deal.
"This approach is very different from practicing affirmations... Affirmations are like screaming that you're okay in order to overcome this whisper that you're not. That's a big contrast to actually uncovering the whisper...and moving closer to all those fears and all those edgy feelings that maybe you're not okay."
So this calm, this peacefulness I'm feeling about the new year and whatever it might bring, my curiosity about it all, has me just not making such a big deal. I'm waiting, being with whatever I'm feeling and looking ahead going "hmmm..." As in the song: "things that make you go 'hmmm'..."
Yeah. 2011 will be the The Year That Makes Me Go "Hmmm..."
By the way: Tongue and Groove will be performing in the Philadelphia Festival of the Arts, (April 7 to May 1), something we're really excited about. From this link you can also visit the T&G website.