Trusting the Tao

Trusting the Tao

73

The Tao is always at ease.
It overcomes without competing,
answers without speaking a word,
arrives without being summoned,
accomplishes without a plan.

Its net covers the whole universe.
And though its meshes are wide,
it doesn’t let a thing slip through.

From Steven Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching

The words above have been a very real, very practical lesson for me recently.

We’re getting ready for another great Adelaide Fringe, and I’m writing a new show with my Three Stuffed Mums colleagues called Still Stuffed. Its a brand new show, with all new stand up comedy and songs, following on from the great success we had last year.

The songs are fine, they’re all written and being arranged right now. All new stand up – that’s another story. I don’t know how other writers operate but I cannot just sit at a computer and write funny – especially when the funny is for spoken delivery.

For me, that means it has to come from spoken origins. And its not a linear process either. Ideas, or phrases or sentences pop up, that generate further ideas that progress out from that original trigger like the ripples on a pond. The most important thing then is the idea, and the next important things are the words that convey that idea. The words can be swapped around like the idea trying on different outfits, but as long as the idea is intact and still inhabits my mind in its original form, there’s that leeway to play with. And then after a few days of musing (or weeks) it gets commited to screen via the keyboard. The words, if you’re not careful, have a way of pegging the idea down like the guy ropes of a flyaway tent. Done properly they neatly package and deliver the idea concisely, precisely and with punch. Done badly they bog it down and kill it. So you can see where I’m starting from.

So, all of this is to say that you cannot force the process. At the same time you have a deadline called ‘opening night’ looming ahead that tends to focus the mind and has the capacity to instill panic. So, what to do?

Me, I have learned to pick up my copy of the Tao Te Ching to remind myself to chill out and that all will be fine. That calms me enough to trust again that what I need will be delivered as long as I do my part in the process. And when I do, its a kind of self fulfilling prophecy, the ideas flow more freely, the mind is more open to receiving new ideas, not tense with panic, and things start to shake up in good time. And I have to say, things are coming together very nicely re the stand up, much better than I anticipated, actually. Adelaide Fringe 2012, I cannot wait for opening night!

If you’re in the vicinity you should pop down and see our show at The Maid, which also has some great comedy shows not featuring us. Our senior Stuffed Mum, Kehau, runs the venue with an aim to helping new comics put on their first Fringe shows without going into bankruptcy to do it. She and her husband Glynn work their butts off to make sure this happens so they deserve support for that alone, I reckon.

Whatever you do, and wherever you are please support your local artists, take part in your local culture and entertainment, and most of all, have fun!

Have a great week!

Maggie 🙂

NB: When looking for the correct stanzas to illustrate my point about trusting the flow in the writing process, I went to the internet version of the translation and blindly clicked on a chapter number. It turned out to be precisely the best chapter to describe what I was trying to say. Bravo Tao!

I’m Stuffed Just Thinking About It!

Well, with two shows under our belt and the third due today, the Three Stuffed Mums have got into the swing of Fringe 2011.

Its been a busy week with lots of radio interviews, dress rehearsals and then opening night on Friday night. So far audience numbers and reactions have been great. Everyone’s found something to relate to in the show – even young single males!

It finally feels that we’ve given birth (so to speak) to this vehicle where we can utilise our talents in a positive and progressive way, so onward and upward!
The comedy industry here in South Australia is so oriented towards young single men that previously womens’ voices (of all ages) haven’t had much of a forum. That’s not a bad thing, its just how it was.

Now we’re creating that forum for both ourselves and hopefully for other female comics to come forward. That’s probably going to be one of the best parts of the Stuffed Mums project – to help and nurture new talent and give it a voice in the world.

We’ve already been booked to play the Ascot Theatre in Kadina in March, and with a Mother’s day show in May and some interstate shows looming, its all looking rather good.

Internally, its an interesting time. I don’t feel that big high that I used to get at times like these when I was younger. In its place is a very deep calm and contentment that, paradoxically, seems to anchor me to the flow of what’s going on. Its not a new feeling, but its never been this strong before and I’m enjoying it very much.

Its a rainy, cool Sunday morning here in Adelaide. Between now and the 5.30pm twilight show there’s washing and tidying to be done.

No.1 (step)son Andy is home from the Gulf – his ship got in this week so its time to claw back his room from the tide of office and exercise equipment to make it liveable once more as a bedroom.

Jeez. I’m stuffed just thinking about it!

Have a great week!