The first and most important rule of improv is that you should always say "yes."
Especially when working with someone else, you must always acknowledge the choice they made and go along with their world. If they say that you're playing fetch with a tyrannosaurus, you don't get to suddenly be riding a motorcycle on the moon. The integrity of the world depends on everyone going along with the suggestion and exploring what that means.
Truth be told, I don't really care for pure improv, particularly the "give us a suggestion and we'll make a scene" kind. I'm not challenging its validity or insulting its place among the theatrical arts, mind you, it's just not the kind of work I like to do. One of the shows I'm currently working on allows for a great deal of improv, but within a very defined structure and script, and that's about as far down that road that I want to travel. Even this, though, requires that magic word, yes.
And I love saying yes. To scenes, to moments, to invitations and requests, to promotions and opportunities... I almost always try to find a way to say yes.
As I've mentioned in the past, this hasn't always worked out for me, and especially in recent weeks, the weight of my various yeses has been pulling me down. Over the last five days, I've been sleeping through my run times, waking up later than usual. Somehow, I've still found myself exhausted, almost to the point of being unable to keep my eyes open, which, let me tell you, makes it rather difficult to take promotional photos.
There's always somewhere I need to be, and if not, then there's something I should be working on for the next place that I have to be. I've got seven different To Do lists, and none of them seems to be getting shorter. I haven't been reading. I haven't been running. Most of the progress I made in January seems to have fallen by the way, and a new reassessment seems to be in order.
So, I've begun the process or determining what is most important to me on a daily basis, and what can be removed from my plate. Most importantly, though, I'm learning (or at least making a valiant attempt) to say no.
The immediate changes have to be the things that only affect me. Things like deciding not to go to the late-night concert of one of my favorite bands this evening, since I know I have to be up early tomorrow. I really want to go, but I know that I'll be cursing the world at sunrise if I do, and I just don't have that energy to spare.
Next will come the organizations that I want to be a part of, but have not thus far found the energy or time to become an effective member.
Finally will come the things I truly love doing, but have now done to death. If I do something because it makes me happy, why would I keep doing it to the point of unhappiness? As in all things, moderation becomes the key, and some of the wholesale devotion I've lined up for myself needs to fall away.
All of these changes will take time. In some cases, I've already made promises as far out as next February. Fortunately, I'm now able to look more clearly into the future and see that I cannot do everything I want to do. I can say no, and it will get easier with practice, right?
Yes, it will.