Ooh that terrifying word. Conjuring up images of rings, mortgages, nooses and shackles. Very few words can elicit such a tensing of the shoulders, a sharpening of the senses as you prepare for fight or flight. Commitment means duties and limitations. It means being trapped by your decisions and watching helplessly as life’s unexpected opportunities skip gaily by, flicking their hair in the sunshine and laughing as you slowly rot in your chosen pit of responsibility.
I’m not keen on making commitments, big or small. Whether that is buying a flat or choosing between a blueberry or a chocolate muffin. I spend hours agonising over all the possible outcomes, dithering, analysing, sweating it out. My mind creates a parallel life full of ‘what ifs’ and regrets which can lead to a complete paralysis of judgement. So I don’t take any decisions lightly and I am amazed that other people can do. Celebrity marriages that last twenty minutes baffle me and you will notice, fact fans, that I never say yes to a facebook invitation unless I am 100% certain that I will definitely do it (except for Carly’s birthday but that was out of my hands. Sorry Carly.) To me, the click is a commitment made.
I love life and I want to eek every last molecule of joy and experience out of it. To commit to something feels like you are having to say NO to many other things but it turns out I may well be wrong on this. Yes. That’s right. I may be wrong. Commitment, it seems, is the biggest fattest YES you can make. Far from putting you in a cage, making a commitment gives you freedom.
I made a major decision the other day. Just like that. And now I’ve committed it is such a relief. Now, instead of picking over the canapés of possibility and uncertainty, I can tuck into the juicy steak of YES and all the other delicious and definite opportunities that presents. I can stop assessing the options and get down to it.
The improv mantra is Listen, Say Yes and Commit.
Making quick decisions and sticking to them is what you have to do on stage all the time. Committing to your choices makes everything so much easier. It trims away the peripherals and gives you a direction. It gives you the freedom to stop searching and start doing. If you do nothing else just make a choice and go with it. The audience will thank you for it and so will your fellow improvisers. Splashing around in a sea of ‘maybes’ can be fun for a while but eventually you need something to hold on to, otherwise you’ll drown.
So actually commitment isn’t such a terrifying monster after all. Used wisely (and let’s be clear I’m not suggesting wildly fleeing off to Vegas with Jezza from down the pub!) commitment is your saviour.
Like the time I ended up suddenly being in a song about a man with big balls who loved meat.
I had given myself a ridiculous character and I didn’t know what I was doing. I could have got scared and backed away but instead I thought ‘Oh I’m here, I’m doing this, well I’ll do it the best I can. I’ll commit to having the biggest balls I can and I’ll love meat as much possible because this is what is happening.’ And I did.
And the audience cheered.
And I was happy.