Slowing Down and Hanging Out

I am teaching my course now and there is lots of learning going on. So much to capture.

We are talking a lot about how to be with people, how to build relationship. I’ve mentioned how important it is to slow down .

My student asked me today what does slowing down look like? How do you actually slow down and be with people? Such a good and vital question. Here are some initial thoughts.

I am a busy person. I am a working artist, a parent and a teacher. I am always behind. There is always more I need to be doing. But I love the part of my work that allows me to slow down and be with people. I get to stop doing, and just be. How do I get to be a human being- with people? What do I mean by slowing down?

  • I hang out in the mundane. I hang out when we are just standing around and see what that is like. I have spent lots of time just hanging out- waiting for something to get set up, delivered, turned off, turned on. But it takes a while to get good at this. I am pretty good at not needing to be entertained. I can just be in boring. Maybe that is my training as an improviser, but I can just hang out.
  • How is it that I look ok in the mundane? I am not anxious…I don’t need something else to happen. I am relaxed. I am fine with whatever is right now.
  • I think I am also really good at sensing when I need to move on. When is someone kind of done having me around? I can tell…
  • I can shoot the shit. I can move a conversation forward and get excited about whatever that person is feeding me.
  • I really try to get into that person’s world. I try to understand the minutia of his/her decision making. “Tell me all about how the bucket truck works, Gerald.” Now tell me again.”
  • I think this is what I really mean by slowing down—I have to allign with that person’s pace. I have to get in the same step with someone—mentally, physically, socially. I have to meet people where they are.  
  • It really helps to have something to do. Some work to engage in. That becomes the space that allows us to begin to get to know each other.
  • I ask people to teach me how to do something (if I am allowed to do that). I get people to show and tell me how to do what they are doing.  
  • FOOD. I show up and eat with people. There is something about a meal that allows for conversation. People relax. I made it a point to make both holiday meals on the same day at two different yards when I was working with the utility company in Austin. Food is one way to have to sit down and stop doing. And then you get to talk.
  • I do make myself a fool sometimes. I try things. I know I might get a laugh. This is me trying to be and show myself to people. I show some vulnerability. I take some risks, too.
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