Time to Improvise

unfueled – uncompromised
undefined – unconditioned
unbounded – unforeseen
uncanny – unborn


I had a most wonderful & meandering mindwalk with my beloved Collin Hauser yesterday while hanging around Big Mike’s Cofffee Shop. We wandered wondering down this Platonic avenue and then through this Zen garden, into some Existential forest path and out among some Yoga sunflowers.

The serendipity of this Socratic dialog was stumbling across what we had not been looking for: improvisation.

I recently wrote that it is a good idea to avoid the whole “improve” yourself thing that seems to swell up every so often. This has to do with not getting caught up in thinking of your own being as a product to be augmented and bettered for maximum yield.

A healthier way of describing how we open ourselves up to the opportunities of the Encompassing  occurs with “improvising”:

Latin im->not & provisus ->foreseen: the unforeseen.

Where improvement signifies thinking too much ahead in order to profit by your constant labors later on, improvise is all about doing it now/here in the moment.

Improvement gets us off track in an unhealthy way because we are not mindful of where we stand but of where we want to stand. This becomes an unending & protracted endeavor, an on-and-on-and-on that sinks us more deeply into despair. Thus, the overwhelming majority of folks who do self-improvement courses are on to another kind of self-improvement course within moments of completing the last “sure fire” self-help methodology.

With the techniques & the openness of improvisation, we get traction where we are, can kick off with some momentum from the moment, and flow with the creative current. This is nothing less than what Buddha, Socrates, and Laozi did. They were improvisers not improvers. If we see what these paradigmatic singularities showed to be possible as nothing more than “self Improvement”, we have really distracted ourselves.

For your consideration this morning, I leave you with a few quotes while asking you to let the Encompassing flow through your improvisations.

“Inhale like you’re exhaling.” — Collin Hauser


“Imagination though it cannot wipe out the sting of remorse can instruct the mind in its proper uses.”
— William Carlos Williams (Kora in Hell)


“Mockingbirds are the true artists of the bird kingdom. Which is to say, although they’re born with a song of their own, an innate riff that happens to be one of the most versatile of all ornithological expressions, mocking birds aren’t content to merely play the hand that is dealt them. Like all artists, they are out to rearrange reality. Innovative, willful, daring, not bound by the rules to which others may blindly adhere, the mockingbird collects snatches of birdsong from this tree and that field, appropriates them, places them in new and unexpected contexts, recreates the world from the world. For example, a mockingbird in South Carolina was heard to blend the songs of thirty-two different kinds of birds into a ten-minute performance, a virtuoso display that serve no practical purpose, falling, therefore, into the realm of pure art.”
— Tom Robbins (Skinny Legs and All)


“In our every cell, furled at the nucleus, there is a ribbon two yards long and just ten atoms wide. Over a hundred million miles of DNA in very human individual, enough to wrap five million times around our world and make the Midgard serpent blush for shame, make even the Ourobouros worm swallow hard in disbelief. This snake-god, nucleotide, twice twisted, scaled in adenine and cytosine, in thymine and in guanine, is a one-man show, will be the actors, props and setting, be the apple and the garden both. The player bides his time, awaits his entrance to a drum-roll of igniting binaries. This is the only dance in town, this anaconda tango, this slow spiral up through time from witless dirt to paramecium, from blind mechanic organism to awareness. There, below the birthing stars, Life sways and improvises. Every poignant gesture drips with slapstick; pathos; an unbearably affecting bravery. To dare this stage, this huge and overwhelming venue. Squinting through the stellar footlights, hoping there’s an audience, that there’s someone out there, but dancing anyway. But dancing anyway.”
— Alan Moore (Snakes and Ladders)


“First, if it is true that a spatial order organizes an ensemble of possibilities (e.g., by a place in which one can move) and interdictions (e.g., by a wall that prevents one from going further), then the walker actualizes some of these possibilities. In that way, he makes them exist as well as emerge. But he also moves them about and he invents others, since the crossing, drifting away, or improvisation of walking privilege, transform, or abandon spatial elements.”
— Michel de Certeau (The Practice of Everyday Life)


“Ready-made phrases and the ritual of etiquette were unknown to him; his thoughtfulness was pure improvisation, and it resembled the little inventions affection inspires.”
— Simone de Beauvoir (The Mandarins)


“Life is a lot like jazz – it’s best when you improvise.”
— George Gershwin


  1. Pingback: Reason & Existenz

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