Thursday, October 1, 2015

Yes, And...

On Tuesday I went to the chiropractor, because when the 'ole running parts get a bit twitchy he's good at soothing them so they don't become all irate and injured. He commented on my name change and congratulated me on getting married. And then he said the thing that almost everyone says, which is the kid thing. So I said the thing that I always say which is that we don't want kids. And he said the thing that most people say which is "How old are you? Oh you're young. You'll change your mind." Facepalm. I didn't say anything but my face must have said it all because then he said "Oh you've already made up your mind."
The issue is not whether or not someone wants to have kids. The issue is that when you ask someone about their life choices and then make a comment that imposes your own judgment on their choices or implies that their choice is somehow wrong, it effectively shuts down the conversation. It's breaking the first rule of improv, which is that you always say "Yes, And..." meaning that you play along with what the other person has said and you add something to it, thereby moving the skit forward. So if your improv partner says "I am a robot from outer space," you don't say "But you're young, you'll change your mind." You say something like "Yes! And I admire the size of your rocket ship. Shall we go get ice cream?"
Now I know that people mean well and they are just trying to make conversation. And most people do get married and have kids so it's not unusual to ask about those things. And maybe people get defensive because they misinterpret my non-traditional life choices as an inherent criticism of their own life choices. (Let me clear the air by saying it's totally not a criticism. Let's all make the choices that are right for us and be happy for each other. We don't all have to want or do the same things.) And I especially know how easy it is to judge other people's choices. We do this almost automatically sometimes, without even realizing we're doing it. I know I am guilty of it too.
I'm trying to be less judgmental about other people's choices, to realize that the beauty of life is that there are so many choices and each of us gets to follow a life path of our own choosing. Each interaction we have with someone is a chance to make a meaningful connection, a chance to really see them and get to know them and accept them. But getting defensive or judgmental only shuts down those potential connections. We only get a finite number of chances to connect in this lifetime, so I want to be more open to letting this happen. I want to be a Yes, And-er. It's much more fun.
Lyric of the moment: "We've wanted to be trusty and true. But feathers fell from our wings. And we've wanted to be worthy of you. But weather rained on our dreams. And we can't take back what is done, what is past. So fellas, lay down your fears. 'Cause we can't take back what is done, what is past. So let us start from here…" ~Damien Rice "Trusty and True"

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