Sunday, September 18, 2011

If you laugh when you drop it...

My friend Rif has this phrase I really like: "If you laugh when you drop it, you can rock it in the process." I've used it twice in the past two days. I quoted it in an interview for my roommate's upcoming webisode. And tonight, it came up again.

I'm going to take a moment to talk about said webisode. My amazing roommate, Larry Leong, is a martial artist/stuntman/general workout maniac. He is currently creating a show called "Move Damn You!"-- a motivational web series that is by, for, and about people who love to move. (And even if you don't like to move, you probably will by the end of each episode.) It's been very exciting watching Larry dream the whole thing up and put it into action. Seeing him take all of the things he believes in so strongly, apply them creatively, and share them with the world with his own personal pizazz has shown me a whole new side of him. Not that I didn't know this side of him existed. It's the same Larry I see every day at the breakfast table, but he is really coming into his element. I am infinitely glad that through this webisode more people will get to witness and be inspired by his quirky sense of humor, his passion for working out, and his beautiful heart which is almost as big as his biceps. Also, there will be hot, shirtless guys doing ab exercises and flips, but I digress...

Being his roommate, as well as a mover, I get to be a part of the show. I have my own segment where I do interviews and rants, as well as perform movement in the background of Larry's rants. Yesterday, I filmed my very first rant. It was a really interesting experience for me because it brought me out of my comfort zone and made me (glaringly) aware of my own hangups and habits. Despite getting along famously as roommates and friends, Larry and I have extremely different ways of working -- at least in terms of this webisode. I am a perfectionist and I tend to do things over and over again, even if I probably got it close if not exactly right on the very first try (though you could never get me to admit that I got it right on the first try, being as I'm a perfectionist). From the get-go, Larry told me that for the most part, he wanted to do all of his stuff in one take. I was open to the idea. In theory.

I planned my rant, wrote it, rehearsed it, and spun for a while to get in my "happy space". In other words, I did everything I could to get it perfect the first take. But for me, it always takes a few tries. Even if I am technically on the mark, I need a little time to get the jitters out and settle into myself. The first take was pretty good, in that I got through the whole thing and didn't massively mess up, but I felt I could do it better. A lot better. Watching the playback, I looked ungrounded; over-animated; "excessively actory" as Larry put it. I knew I only had a limited amount of time to do it again, since Larry was doing some crazy gymnastics that took a lot of physical exertion. Everytime I tried, I kept screwing up. And by the time I felt I was getting close, he could no longer keep up the moves. We turn the off camera, and he gave me the spiel about not thinking too much; not feeling like I had to "be perfect"; just hammering it out and being cool with whatever comes. The whole idea completely freaked me out. I'd love to be able to do it, but how could I, especially on camera, immortalized forever for the whole world to see???

Today, we shot several of his rants. This shoot mostly involved spinning poi in the background while Larry did his thing. Spinning was a lot less nerve-racking for me -- not only because I was no longer the main event, but also because flow arts lend themselves to a more fluid, laid back frame of mind. The first three rants were accompanied by me spinning my glow poi, which is what we had agreed on. But doing more than three seemed redundant. I thought I could spin my water balloon poi with more, but no matter how much fill light we added, they just didn't pop on camera (no pun intended) so we nixed that idea. I said, "I could break out my juggling clubs," which Larry took a liking to.

Something you should know about me: I do NOT claim to be a juggler. I know how to juggle, but it is by no means my specialty. I juggle adequately. I know couple of tricks, but nothing too fancy. And of course, being a perfectionist, I generally err on the side of "If you think you might not got it, don't flaunt it." This is something I'm working through because I know first-hand that once you take ownership of what you have, what you have -- however small it was to begin with -- grows and strengthens and causes you to do the same. So I said "What the freaking hey?" And out came the clubs.

Despite Larry choosing the shortest rant for the club sequence, club-juggling minutes are sort of like dog years. One minute of catching clubs is equivalent to at least seven minutes of pretty much anything else. He told me from the get go that it was okay if I couldn't juggle them the whole way through; to consider this more of a "Karuna practicing in her living room" than a performance. Here was the moment when I got to put Rif's words of wisdom to the test. I dropped them pretty quickly the first time around, simultaneously stopping the roll. We tried it a couple of more times with more or less the same result. (If and when Larry does a blooper reel, there is some decently hilarious footage of me stopping and starting, stopping and starting, doing my crazy breathing/juggling/Chi-channeling techniques, then stopping and starting again.) And then I said to myself, "Do I really want this to go on all night?" My roommate would be pissed off at me, I'd be pissed off at myself, and most importantly I would not be my word. If you laugh when you drop it, you can rock it in the process. I had said these very words in answer to Larry's question, "What's the best advice anyone's ever given you (when it comes to to physical activity)?"

Club-juggling Roommate Rant Take 3. I threw my first club in the air. The sound of me catching it was Larry's cue to begin. Larry started on his monologue. I continued to juggle. I kept them in the air for a decent amount of time. Inevitably I dropped them, but I picked them back up and started juggling again. The timing of where I stopped and restarted actually synced up nicely with Larry's lines. I juggled for a little longer before dropping them again. As I recall, the second time it happened I actually let them drop rather than scrambling to catch them when they were too far out of my reach. I started to juggle one-- throwing it casually in my hand, tossing it under my leg, and spinning it around in my fingers before adding the other two back in. At the end of his rant, I deliberately let go of one of the clubs, then did some kind of improvised flourish with one club in each hand. I did it! I got through the take. And not because I did it pitch perfect, but because I messed up; I rolled with it; I rocked it.

I find this ending to the story far more rewarding than if I had gotten it spot on. Being perfect is tiring! It's also "easy" in the sense that it's a quick and comfortable default mode because you are giving the world what you think it wants to see. Being able to drop the ball -- literally or figuratively -- in front of everyone can be scary and sometimes painful, but ultimately it's a lot less effort. You don't have to hit pause-rewind-erase-rerecord. You can keep the tape rolling and just be you.

1 comment:

  1. Nice! Worrying about drops is what creates them. Realizing the no orphans die, no unicorns lose their horn, nothing significantly bad happens when you make a mistake. Unless you beat yourself up about it. Which is hippie on hippie violence, so not helpful. I went through a similar process once. I was filming an intro for the Jedi software class, and could not do the basic moves. Why? Self imposed pressure to be perfect. Hilariously frustrating. The good news is as you've discovered, Flow Arts give you a tool overcome that stuff, so it doesn't get in the way of you saving the world.