I picked up, Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Madson in one of the many bookstores in Berkeley last month when we were visiting Erin and Justin. The title stirred me and a cursory browse of the book showed promise. I wasn’t mistaken.
Each day I understand better that our value is not tied to what we do or even what we can do. We all have value because we are. There’s value in just showing up and being present. Planning and preparing are important, but they aren’t everything. I am learning that, while being prepared is invaluable, being present is just as important if not more so.
The section I read today in the book was on rituals. Being one who loves variety, I have always thought of rituals as ruts, but this book has given me a different perspective. Rituals can help us get in the groove. Madson was relating about the rituals she was introduced to in some classes she took. She says,
At our desks in calligraphy class, we began with the ritual of grinding the ink. There is a correct way to hold the ink stick and to move it in small circles in a tiny pool of water on the stone that serves as an inkwell. The action of making ink became both a physical and mental preparation for the work of learning how to paint Japanese characters and bamboo leaves.
These rituals at the beginning of each session had the effect of creating order and harmony. We knew what we had to do when we entered the sace. Cleaning and grinding ink got us into the world of the art without the stress of creation. There was a calming effect…
My best meetings have been the ones where I not only prepared for the content, but took time to prepare my self to clear out the clutter and be more present. What a wonderful way to look at rituals as preparation for the art of being present.