Life is (or “as”) an Offer

by Simon Goland, September 29, 2012

I am just finishing a period of a few full and rich weeks, with plenty of adventures and diversity to go along. My loyal four-legged fluffy companion Tobi and I left Vancouver about 3 weeks ago, and spent 2 days in Portland catching up with friends and students of BGI (while grading assignments of an online course I am currently facilitating). From there, I headed south, along the ocean of Oregon coast and the magnetic Redwood forests, to Potter Valley in Mendocino County of California to Magruder Ranch.  This is a real working ranch, with cattle, pigs, ducks, organic garden, lovely hosts, local food, and a river to help cool Tobi and me right across the road. The idea to have the Quest there was born out of a very brief conversation with the student who lives and works at the ranch, where we both realized the opportunity and said yes to it.

We spent four days there – a group of 16 participants, 2 assistants, and one photo/videographers, who came together for the Right Livelihood Quest retreat. They came from all over – Vancouver, Virginia, California, Seattle, Alaska, Portland – to sit around a 4 Directions circle, be present, dialogue with others and inquire in silence, dive deep into their past, present, and future, play, perform and participate in ceremonies, move and be still, and be in Nature. Ultimately, they came to inquire into the question of the essence of our existence. Why are we here?

“Imagine that the possibilities of the future are greater than the disappointments of the past and the challenges of the present.”

Afterwards, my adventures continued south. First to Petaluma, where my beloved joined me for 3 days of exploring the area of the coast, of Napa, and Sonoma. Then there was a conference in San Francisco, of an organization of sorts I belong to – Applied Improv Network. This is the part that connects the dots in this adventure of these weeks, though it is certainly not exclusive to the conference only.

One of the most basic, and perhaps fundamental, principles of improv is the notion of “accepting the offer.” Which simply means, saying Yes. Though, like with many seemingly simple things, it is not always that easy.

“Humans long to connect. Yes glues us together. Yes starts the juices rolling. Yes gets us into heaven and also into trouble.” – Patricia Ryan Madson

Life is like that, with plenty of offers and opportunities to say Yes. And when we say so, we need to be aware of the fact that it is an act of courage and not only of optimism, for Yes allows us to share control, future, and destiny. Yet, this is only the beginning.

I think there are times when we expect that saying Yes would mean that things would start happening immediately and automagically. Just like that. Cause and effect – I say Yes, Universe responds within a moment (or two) and sends me all my hearts desires and wishes. Right now.

Not so fast, grasshopper. It appears as though there are times when it is not enough, and a whole lot more is needed. Patience. Sweat. Dreams. Passion. Repeated Yes. And repeated again the next day. And more of the same cycle, in various permutations of it. And then, Universe is not without a sense of humour, and brings us our answers, prayers, and dreams when we least expect it.

In other words, a Yes requires a lot more than optimism and courage. It requires patience, trust, and perhaps even faith. Yet, it is this one word that starts the flow.