Accepting the Offer

by Simon Goland, December 2, 2009

Today’s Reflection is about the concept of “Accepting the Offer” which comes from the world of improv theatre. But not only from there.

There is always a reason for people to get the dogs they get. Perhaps other pets as well, though I would not know much about it. I do, however, know that it is absolutely true about dogs. We, so-called “dog owners,” get the absolutely perfect dog for us, whether to mirror something back to us, to teach us a lesson, or any other metaphysical reason. The Universe, it seems, is not without a sense of irony or humour.

When Tobi was a puppy, I was learning a lot about the reasons I was chosen for him. One day, in his early puppyhood years, a friend took him for a walk. When she came back, she said, “You know, Tobi is just like you.”

“Yes, I know.” Was my reply. “But what is it this time?”

“Well,” she said, “When you ask or tell him to do something, he will sit there, think about it for a while, and eventually will do it – completely in his own way.”

I knew that this is where she was totally wrong. At least, Tobi will eventually do it.

“Every time man makes a new experiment he always learns more. He cannot learn less.” – Buckminster Fuller

Accepting the offer means opening up to receiving. It means not blocking the flow of whatever is happening in the moment. It means taking what comes your way with a Yes, and finding ways to build upon it. Yes it comes from the world of improv theatre and performing arts in general. Perhaps to get a sense of what it looks like in the improv world, check out “3 For ALL” on YouTube. Accepting the offer, taking it in, and doing something with it to forward the energy and the flow of the moment creates a very different experience. Much like in life, everything remains in constant motion.

Yet, the world of performing arts is not the only playground for accepting the offer. They are everywhere around us, daily, crossing our path and checking our awareness, openness, and courage to notice, accept, and say Yes.

When the first Western anthropologists “discovered” the Shaolin Temple, they were baffled. “How could these Buddhist monks, who are all about peace and kindness, be at the same time such incredible lethal killers?” the anthropologists thought. What they didn’t understand is that in the monk’s particular philosophy, everything that is given to them is a gift – and they have the right to accept or return it. So when a blow or a kick was delivered to them by their opponent, it was interpreted as “Thank you for the offer. I don’t think it belongs to me, so here it is back.”

“Did you tackle the trouble
that came your way
With a resolute heart and
Or hide your face from
the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or
a trouble’s an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it.
And it isn’t the fact that you
hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?”
-Edmund Vance Cooke

One of Tobi’s strongest gifts is that of welcoming and accepting strangers. I can only think of one situation where that was not the case; otherwise, he is always friendly, welcoming, and wagging to every person he comes across. Me, I am still learning this lesson, and have a way to go…

A sunny week to you all, inside and out.