It’s a book, on the bottom shelf of my bookcase, titled “Life’s Little Handbook of Wisdom: Over 500 Winning Ways to Live Life to the Fullest.“ It’s a shrunken, 99 cent paperback, with plenty of off-white space on the pages to separate quotes, each no more than a sentence long. Five to a page, broken up by the occasional one in 28 pt. font that got a whole page to itself.
Flashback to how I got it: It was a gift from a pal when I was in high school; 15 years old and pleased that someone was so thoughtful.
I thumbed through it and noticed something that I had highlighted a few quotes throughout the book. Not a lot. But a few.
What a gift! A present from the past; the last time I got something like this was when my senior English teacher from high school mailed me a letter from my 17 year-old self, 5 years later (which prompted me to quit my full-time job at the time in favor of finally finishing my degree).
Over the years, life revealed things that never would’ve occurred to me to seek out. I stumbled into improv because a junior college theater professor told me I wasn’t that great at acting. I never looked back; I reveled in a world called improv where anything was possible and by simply being positive, you could find yourself in a whirlwind of possibilities…on stage and in life.
From that point until where we are now, I had naturally attributed my current attitude and position on life to learning improv, in 2001, when I was 19. I am even willing to admit that I remember very little about my personality before I started doing this thing called improv. A lot of my reasoning for being so attracted to the PR field and to many other facets of my current lifestyle were based in the same things that attract me to improv.
Flash forward to now: 27, cleaning my house and realizing I continue to pack, unpack, re-pack, unpack and re-shelve this mini-book, for no valid explanation other than “*shrug*…you can’t just throw a book away.” (unless it’s a math book…yeesh.)
Current situation: Waitress/Bartender at a downtown brewery, doing PR work for ComedySportz with no one to teach me but Google, and so mean and negative about 7 months of fruitless job hunting. Tired of hearing “it’s the economy” and sick of hearing about everyone else’s success. Ashamed to have my degree with nothing to show for it and pissed I still don’t have my “JOB job.” ( I refuse to call things “real” jobs. I currently don’t make fake money or pay fake bills, so I don’t see the reasoning other than to put down an industry that keeps many living and financially afloat.)
So *scoff* let’s look and see what 15 year-old Courtney Pong thought was “important” and the “key to living life.”
Learn to laugh at yourself.
Be nice to the people who serve you.
Look on the bright side.
Laugh at yourself; laugh with others.
There are those who dream, those who do and those who do both. Join the third group.
Don’t let your dreams die.
Suppress neither sneezes nor laughter.
Have a ready smile and a firm handshake.
Our five senses are incomplete without the sixth - a sense of humor.
Now, they’re pretty generic. Stuff you’d see stitched in a pillow, right? But when you’re 15, they’re profound, like pop songs.
But more importantly…the theme when I was 15 was to laugh. To make others laugh. To keep laughing. (and to dream big, but that’s not the focus right now)
How could I have possibly known that I would end up making that a life choice and continue it professionally? I didn’t start improv because I was seeking it out. I ended up in it and ran with it.
Which brings us to a very intresting now - what a call to action. What a perfectly timed reminder, in the midst of all the jaded mumblings and jealous side comments, that at the heart of it all, is that original person.
You just have to find it.
And remember why you started all this in the first place.