Lower the stakes!

January 31, 2014

Tomorrow is February 1!!!!! In February, if all goes as planned (*knocks wood*), I will finish making a show that will begin a run of 11 performances, all in different locations. I will also close on my first house, paint said house, and move across the river with Ben! In addition to these big things, I will dive into a couple of work projects that are in less familiar territory. That's a lot for the control freak in me to attempt to manage. (I can just hear the universe laughing...)

Maybe you've taken an acting class, where the teacher always told you "Raise The Stakes!". This means, Make The Story Seem More Important And Dangerous Than It Might Actually Be! Because when you're acting, raising the stakes just makes things more interesting for the audience. Raising the stakes is also a good general rule for grant writing. As in, write your grant so that it appears to the granting organization that this art you're trying to make, which you need THEIR money for, is SUPER DUPER CRAZY IMPORTANT! You MUST get the money! It's going to change your life (and the world)! Raise. Those. Stakes.

Daily life is a different story. We don't have to worry about convincing someone to give us a grant, or that the story we're telling is exciting, important, and dangerous. But sometimes it's easy to get fooled that the stakes of daily life are really, really high. Here's the thing: I'm assuming that most of us have shelter. CHECK. I'm also assuming that most of us reading this blog, on the internet, on a computer, have food. CHECK. Also, maybe we have clothing, moderate to good health, loved ones, and the means to pay our bills for at least the next month. CHECK? Great. High-five us. It's not that challenges and pressures don't exist outside of these basic needs-- they do. But, I think all of us are sometimes tempted to buy into believing that the stakes are way higher than they actually are. I swear that this is mostly a lie-- the stakes are lower than you think. If the show is a dud, or you don't get the job, or you end up moving the week after the show opens, or you send out your first big corporate email with a typo, or you break your car bumper on snow...it's going to be ok. Your future isn't riding on one day (or even a few of them).

A good friend is in the process of applying for graduate school, and every time I talk to her and she seems anxious about the process I say "LOWER THE STAKES!", which is actually as much a note to myself. I have never been a big embracer of the unknown, but I like what the unknown forces me to do. It develops traits like HOPE, you guys. FAITH, even. Sometimes I even feel myself relinquishing control, and accepting that not everything is riding on how hard I grip-- and that's a very nice thing to remember.

Congratulations to all the Minnesotans on making it through January! We are building so much character.


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