Well, here we are again. Nearing the end of one rotation…and on the precipice of another. There’s no denying things have been as weird and wacky as ever. I’m not sure there’s been a time in my life, and maybe yours, where this quote from NDW (which many of you know from our Catapult stairs) has ever been more relevant. And while being uncomfortable can often feel very, well, uncomfortable, I’d like to present an alternative to being scared of or resisting it: Lean into it.
We as a society do everything we can to avoid being uncomfortable. We take the escalator over the stairs. We drive instead of walk or ride. We quit when things get too hard. And most concerning as of recent years, we choose to pull out an electronic piece of equipment from our pocket and stare at it for absolutely no reason, instead of simply acknowledging another human being standing directly in front of us. But fret not my friend, for there is a simple solution…Start embracing discomfort.
The biggest shift I had with snowboarding (now one of my favorite things…see you in January, Copper Mountain) was the moment I embraced leaning forward. When I first started snowboarding everything inside of me wanted to sit back on my board. It felt safer. It felt easier. Problem is, it doesn’t work. Sitting back never works. Nor does it get anything done. If you want to MOVE forward you have to LEAN forward. The same goes for being uncomfortable.
We as a species are MEANT to have some discomfort. It’s literally in our DNA. Nowadays we rarely encounter any real discomfort. And when we do, we run the other way…or straight down to our phone. But we don’t have to. We can start to instead welcome these uncomfortable situations and see where they take us. We can sit with the discomfort. We don’t have to look at it as right or wrong. As my friend Richard Warner would say, we can ‘Hmmmm’ the situation. We can get curious instead of scared. We can choose adventure instead of laziness. We can even disagree with someone’s viewpoint…and still have a respectful conversation with them! Say what?!
I recently taught a workshop where we were emphasizing the importance of connection, even when it’s uncomfortable, and also how technology and society as a whole is moving away from this type of uncomfortable actual connection. We explained that this connection doesn’t need to happen just when the actors are acting, but in everything they do. Then, to my pleasant surprise, I watched a group of young people, most of whom were strangers just the day before, sit around with each other and tell riddles during their lunch break. They were engaged and laughing and listening, and unbeknownst to them, putting a huge smile on their instructor’s face and creating a warmth in his heart.
So, as we meander our way into this new year I hope we will all let go more and have faith in process. Take more risks and be cool with falling. Seek uncomfortable situations and celebrate the gifts that they bring to us. Life is crazy…and that’s okay. To quote one of my favorite new authors, Michael Easter, this 2022 may you, “Embrace discomfort to reclaim your wild, happy, healthy self!
With so much love, the hope for an abundance of uncomfortable situations & an array of benevolent outcomes,
Your pal, Erik.
More Acting Tips from Erik + the Catapult Crew coming soon.