Reflecting On Yes: The Storyteller Series


One of the core tenets of any improviser’s training is “yes, and…” The ability to say “yes” to the opportunities presented and build upon them. This “yes, and” mentality changed my life.

It caused me to jump out of plane…

Move to China…

Outside the Drum Tower, Beijing, China. 2013.

And just last week: almost join a cult.

“Yes, and” creates an immediate response. This doesn’t leave a lot of space to become bogged down thinking about what you’ve just agreed to or the opportunity to explore any fears surrounding the thing. “Yes, and” removes the thinking and the choice. “Yes, and” is the choice and there’s nothing to think about.

Last week way up north in Bagley, Minnesota, I shared a new solo show as part of the Farm By The Lake Storytellers Series. What brought me north was their mission, “a natural retreat that offers visitors the opportunity to increase their understanding of themselves, their spirituality, their community and their connection to the environment.” It resonated with me.

Back in October 2017 when I shot Dawn and Marty at Farm By The Lake an email I didn’t have a show nor did I know if they had a space for me to do a show I didn’t have yet. When Dawn sent me a message in November and asked if I’d like to be part of their Storytellers Series I had no choice but to say yes!

The same is true when members of the Bagley community, Jami and Danny, reached out prior to the event inviting me to their home for a meal. “Yes, of course!” Though my excitement was tempered on the four hour drive north by the fact that I didn’t know them, they didn’t know me, we might not get along, and/or they’d kill me. But fear is just another four-letter f-word.

Danny and Jami are wonderful! They welcomed me into their home and I immediately felt a kinship with those old-soul hippies. We shared a meal, chatted, and I discovered a number of things we had in common ranging from fireplaces to politics to China! You can read more about our afternoon and the performance on Jami’s blog.

Danny, Jami, and Michael following the performance of “Home” at Farm By The Lake’s Storyteller’s Series. February 11, 2018.

The stories I put together and shared at the event were focused on home. Is home a person, place, thing, or feeling? What happens when “home” goes away? The show is by no means “finished,” but at least now I know it touched the people who heard it last Sunday.

Then the audience shared their home stories and it all felt perfect. Because art is supposed to open and compel us to share. Last Sunday I felt the audience and I in some sort of symbiotic relationship where my sharing led to their sharing creating a perfect circle of communion.

I’m so grateful to everyone who came to the event and said “yes” to spending an afternoon listening with an open heart. If you’re reading this, Bagley community members, I felt very much at home with you. You warmed my heart to the point that it didn’t feel so much like I was driving home, but soaring. You can bet if I’m asked to return to another Farm By The Lake event my answer will emphatically be YES.