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Detours Are a Crash Course in Improv: How to "Travel" Like an "Artist"

Art-ing through life

How art taught me to live

We’ve all encountered things in our lives that have gone in a different direction than we had hoped or at least anticipated.  It’s what makes us human – living at the mercy of whatever life throws us.

But that’s the art of life – the improvisation.  That’s where we get to be creative, work with what we’ve got, and sometimes, we end up being pleasantly surprised by what amounts.

I’ve found that “sometimes” can be “all the time” in three ways: (in my opinion…)

1.) We can choose to view the “hiccip” in a certain light, seeing the glass as “half-full”

2.) We can just follow that detoured path and patiently wait, holding onto the idea that things will improve, hoping that eventually the “bigger picture” will come to light. This reminds me of a favorite quote I heard, “everything will be okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end”

3.) If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  We can just shrug off what we had anticipated, laugh it off, go with the flow, and surrender to the uncertainty which is neither good nor bad – just be with it and experience what is rather than what should be.  (i.e. “Man plans, god laughs”)

This is what my paintbrush teaches me day after day.  I love the feeling of moving around a big glob of paint on a fresh linen canvas and having no idea what to expect.  Sometimes I feel like creating very exact detail…and sometimes I just want to throw some colors around on an empty space.

Painting is just a great exercise for learning how to live.  Or at least, it’s a lesson I need to learn myself day after day.  To have the courage to just start from somewhere – anywhere, to not judge it, and to just keep going – even if you don’t like how it is turning out.

Sometimes you have an image in mind, and you start with that idea.  And sometimes you even stay with that initial idea for a bit.

But when the paint smears, or you blotch something up, or your sleeves get on the paint and smear the nice clean line you just painted – it’s a little frustrating.  But then you just learn to go with it.

And with a bit of patience, and the determination to eventually see it to completion, you’ll get there.

And then sometimes, you start off painting, and you’re on a roll, you feel the adrenaline of creativity jolting through you like a fluid wash of watercolors, and then – HALT – painter’s block.  You have no clue what comes next.

Or you keep painting and painting, determined to rectify the deviant path your paintbrush took, and the more you prod away at it, the worse the painting feels to you.

Then, it takes the greatest discipline in the world to step away and come back another day.

As a “Detourist”, remember – you an always come back to it another day.  When life gets hard, just take a time out for self care.  Take a deep breath.  It’s okay to sit on the sidelines for a moment.   You can always get back on.  Just don’t forget that you can!

Safe travels, Detourists, and remember to take a breather every now and then!


how to travel like an artist

3 Replies to “Detours Are a Crash Course in Improv: How to "Travel" Like an "Artist"”

  1. RaiC says:

    I love this! Thinking of life as an improvisation makes complete sense. We literally have to just make it work… and with no practice or rehearsal, deal with it and make it as if what we’re dealing with is completely what we’ve planned for. Improv is actually one of my fav things to do… I love the challenge and the creativity behind it. Makes you dig deep…

    I like what you did with painting… it’s something that has always been considered therapeutic and surprisingly up until now, it didn’t relate to me in this way. Ive always looked at art & painting as a form of self expression… but to look deeper and to really include your story in what you create makes it that much more beautiful. Loving this detourist lifestyle!

  2. jamesmcphee says:

    When it comes to this ideas, there are many elements that needs to be done, and those elements are key to achieve better and unique personal development for many aspects. I, myself, my learning of improvisation gave me better way of living, thanks to http://smartleesecreative.com/, that made this for me possible.

  3. Courtney says:

    I love this as well! I have been reminded that “Sometimes painful endings are new beginnings”. Sometimes it is so difficult to “go with the flow” of life..especially when what is going on in our lives hurts or is confusing. Life detours can be scary, especially when we don’t see any familiar signs to guide is immediately! I am a recovering addict and one of those wonderful human qualities that is amplified through the addict in me is the “need” for instant gratification. I have found I feel safe in familiarity and routine. When either of those are compromised, even due to to just life occurring, I allow myself often to be quickly thrown into the rapids. In those rapids, it takes much reminding from others and many moments of losing my breath and water in my lungs, that I am a damn good swimmer. I can do this, no matter what.

    Thank you for posting, I really, really appreciate it.

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