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Improv in the 21st Century
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

THERE'S A remarkable kind of contest going on at the moment, and we should take a moment to appreciate it. The old time-worn ways of being on this planet and our growing realignment with our higher instincts are like a couple of sumo wrestlers, staring each other down and shifting for position, grappling and sweating in contest for the future. We see it in our news, our neighborhoods, our homes -- we see it in ourselves.

Planet Waves
Psych Silhouettes. Illustration by Danielle Voirin.
You might catch yourself making a statement, even as you hear it ring false; no worries, that's a sign of your mind changing. You're being taught. Don't be afraid to let the new idea in -- it would be ridiculous for us to stand in an old understanding when a new one has superimposed itself onto our current situation. Information is being downloaded each moment for us to grab and own; personal bits and pieces that connect the dots to help us in our greatest challenges or take us toward our dearest dreams.

In extreme periods such as these, when we are challenged greatly and our daily world is shaken, we have a tendency to knee-jerk into our default safety position, locking up our energy and stopping the momentum from pushing us forward. That is an error; a common one. For instance, in tough economic times we keep what we have rather than put it into play; that impedes the flow of giving and receiving, a loop that requires both actions in order to move freely. This is not the time to ponder apparent lack -- this is a time to celebrate source and keep a generous spirit. Our good depends on it.

Our challenges are obvious; the prayer list my spiritual family and I keep grows bigger every day, filled with grievous health and mental health issues, job loss and survival needs, relationship problems and family dysfunctions. Many people are leaving the planet now in various and creative ways; ageless souls in young and old bodies; unwilling, some say, to make the required changes. Add the political and human calamities of this period and even the sleepiest human must notice that something's up on planet Terra; that life ain't what it used to be.

We've had a bit of time to grieve that loss, now. It's been a while since everything was Jake, moving right along as planned and soothing in its predictability. Problems used to come to us with plenty of breathing space in between; now, we have to reprioritize every hour or so. The thing on our plate right this moment might not have been visible a day ago; it may have come from out of the blue, unexpected. Our short to-do list may be revised several times a day: our longer list is tucked away somewhere, gathering dust. My mom, in her later years, used to quote Proverbs with a sigh: "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." That used to amuse me; now I say it too. A lot.

Not that I credit evil for the challenges we face. I accuse ego and selfishness and corruption for the condition of our governments; I point a finger at fear and shame and emotional dependency for most of our personal problems. Unless we take a ruthless inventory of our hidden motives, we cannot move forward into any new territory; we will be caught in an endless loop of same-old, reviewing the past and repeating it. And the inner work we've done these last decades -- some of us as Hippy types in the 60s, referenced as the First Wave of the coming leap; some as New Agers in the 80s, the Second Wave; and the growing number of Greenies in, apparently, the Third -- has provided the spiritual platform that will allow us NOT to shake apart in this growing chaos, NOT to lose our faith in the face of adversity and NOT to cower under the last dark thrust of an old paradigm of duplicity and repression.

Yet we find ourselves too often overwhelmed and worried as what was grows increasingly unstable, changes into a new reality: when the income dwindles; when the significant other takes a powder; when dearly held relationships seem to be singing a swan song; when our old obligations suddenly seem irrelevant to our new purpose or calling. And if we're trying to kill the pain with a handful of prescription drugs, or a bottle of Jack in front of us, or weeping into our pillow, the words of Eckhart Tolle may seem, initially, annoying: "Even within the seemingly most unacceptable and painful situation is concealed a deeper good, and within every disaster is contained the seed of grace."

But, of course, Tolle's right, and on the other side of pain, with time's assistance, we can see and acknowledge that truth. We are accustomed to looking at things gone from us as loss. Remember that saying about: if we love something, set it free and if it's ours it will come back to us? How many of us can set aside our personal desires to risk opening our hands to release the beloved? Our human hearts want it the way we want it, yet our path provides us experiences that our souls have requested.

Loss is a kind of illusion that is set within our need to control; a relationship is not a trap, yet we too often insist it be one. When we set the beloved free, have we not taken in their essence and made it part of our own? When one job ends, don't we add the skills it taught us to our resume as experience? When we leave behind one familiar spot on the planet, don't we take the imprint of it with us to the next place we touch down? Guy Finley put it this way: "Looking upon the loss of anything as though it means the end of it, is the same as believing falling leaves mark the end of the trees."

This new space we're in requires us to set a LOT of things free. We must use the maximum creativity and foresight we can muster. If we are to come through it with a bit of grace, we will have to rely on our growing instinct and intuition. We must get comfortable with improvisation, with meeting each moment asking Spirit to lead us through it and maximize our potential to create what my peeps and I call the Highest and Best outcome. We're called on to trust a good deal more than we've been accustomed to: we have to believe that we're in the right place at the right time and we're capable of doing what needs doing, no matter how risky or difficult. Eleanor Roosevelt was a shy, young woman but she didn't end her life that way; she explained her metamorphosis this way: "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."

Learning to improvise from moment to moment is a skill that takes practice. Over these last years we've seen many examples of the difference between being reactive and being responsive. Improvisation requires response. We can do that, with Spirit's help. If you don't think you know what Spirit sounds like, then here's a hint -- when God told George Bush to bomb Iraq, Spirit wasn't in on the conversation. The Voice that whispers in your ear is your Higher Angel. It will ask you to be caring, compassionate, loving and kind. It will direct you to the moral imperative, which will allow you to establish natural and impenetrable boundaries with those who feel comfortable in lower consciousness. We are all preparing to embody the Higher version of ourselves; we must trust that whatever comes to us next is ours to do and that we have everything within us to accomplish it.

Word of warning: do not judge by appearances. Any series of stepping-stones toward a higher outcome will probably include a few chipped and wobbly ones. It's the next step that is important; not the last. You know, life is a journey, not a destination. Don Miguel Ruiz counts impeccability as one of his Four Agreements; he defines this as taking responsibility for our own actions without self-judgment or blame. It's self-indulgent to beat our breasts overlong because of experiences that have led us to self-awareness; do we hate ourselves in third grade for having completed second? If apologies are indicated, issue them; next, forgive yourself and your errors -- then move along. We are in the midst of a Becoming. Keeping the vision of where we're going is the more immediate necessity than pondering where we've been.

This improvisational gestalt we find ourselves in is thrilling, frightening, exciting and risky; yet we wouldn't all be here if we hadn't called it in. The channeled material insists we're all much more evolved and courageous than we think; when it came time for incarnation, no sissies were allowed at this period of the great Turning of Ages. Step into your Higher energies confident that you were destined to do so, as one that Dannion Brinkley calls a powerful spiritual being. Push fear aside and move forward, trusting the outcome. "When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision," said Audre Lorde, "then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid."

If you're one of those who can't walk and chew gum at the same time, you will be surprised at how multidimensional you're becoming. You can have two dialogs going on in your head at once -- one mundane, one Divine. One portion of your brain may be howling in pain while another is calmly assessing the situation and finding the opportunities at hand. One part of your heart may be weary while another part is enthusiastic and impatient for the next happening. Your dreams may have you clearing old energies with nightmares, yet you're also entering into blessed space and bringing back insights and instructions, healings and resolutions.

We are not ordinary, not one of us. We are here with purpose and design. As you face your day, doing your Highest and Best improv, responding to changes with a growing sense of your own power, you may discover that the old things you once valued so dearly were a little too heavy and ponderous for one moving at light-speed to tug along. It might even feel pretty good to let some of them go. This collapse of an outdated perception about ourselves is quite dramatic, even though we've been working up to it for generations; trust that you have the skills, the heart and the intention to do everything asked of you in this new paradigm.

I'll leave you with this quote from E.F. Schumacher, a man who has stepped back to see the bigger picture: "Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns; but that is of interest only to pigs. Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees."

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