20 Feb

I continued to be impressed with the fact that the greatest epiphanies tend to show up in unexpected places.

sip. it.

get. it. sip. it.

The less overt the effort to deliver life-changing God truths, the less head-on the approach, the greater the likelihood of us seeing or discovering something that tweaks or reshapes our perception of reality.

Maybe this explains why I see as much truth these days on dance floors as I have in sanctuaries.

And why in “non-religious” books the Divine whisper can be heard most clearly.

Which is why I continue to enjoy sipping on Patricia Ryan Madson’s Improv Wisdom.

I say “sipping” because that’s how I’m trying to take things these days.
I feel like I’ve been gulping most of my life. And slurping. Time for some sips.

This was a good sip.

Maxim number seven of Improv Wisdom: Face the Facts.


“Improvisers need to enter the same reality in order to work together effortlessly. They establish the facts of the scene and agree to accept things as they are – in short, they act realistically.

The seventh maxim follows from the cardinal principle of saying yes. First we say yes, and then we work with what has been given. Saying yes is like accepting the bite of apple that is being offered. Facing the facts implies that we chew on the apple, allowing it to nourish us. Use what is given. Build upon it.

The Japanese have a word for this rule: arugamama. It is the virtue of abiding with things as they are. It implies a realistic and responsive approach to life.”

Madson concludes the chapter with this anecdote:

I’ve been working with a physiotherapist to strengthen my leg muscles, which have been weakened by chronic tendinitis. One of my daily exercises involves standing on one foot balancing on a half cylinder made of Styrofoam. The goal is to stand for a whole minute on the flat side of the disc, curved side down, balancing on one leg. My first attempts were completely unsuccessful. I couldn’t seem to balance even for a moment without tipping over. So I began doing the exercise standing next to a door frame to have something to hold on to. It was still difficult, but I could manage it. I proudly showed the therapist my solution, and she rolled her eyes and intoned, “No, no, no. I don’t want you to make it easier. I want you to struggle. That’s how the muscles will learn to heal. By stabilizing things you defeat the point of the exercise. Stay with the uncertainty, please. Really, it’s all about the struggle.”

In the act of balancing we come alive…

We can stop trying to flee from the wobble…


Yep. Time for a new entry in my personal dictionary:


yeah. something like that.

yeah. something like that.



Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Books


Tags: , , , ,

4 responses to “arugamama

  1. retroillini

    February 20, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Great, great stuff. Enjoy’d Sun. talk enormously. your illinois fan

  2. wordhaver

    February 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Thank you – so good to see your face, even if it’s quite small in the icon 🙂

  3. patriciaryanmadson

    February 24, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    You are the first person who has cited this chapter. It’s really an important one. Thanks for seeing this..

  4. wordhaver

    February 24, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Patricia, it must be the fact that I’m sipping my way through the book, one chapter at a time. We gulp far too much, whether we’re talking about books or life, for that matter. Thanks again for such a rich vintage from which to sip – and for letting me share a sip or two here.


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