My bare feet spreading out on a warm wood floor.
A patch of winter sun on my face.
The feel of graphite meeting paper as I draw a line.
The sensation of waking up the resonators in my skull with a simple hum.
Aaahh I’m ALIVE!
Being human on this sensual level feels so good. Being in the present.
Taking pleasure in being alive is basic yet extraordinary. The world is coming in through the senses and there’s a juicy give and take that’s full of something that feels a bit chaotic because the ban on fun-in-being has been lifted.
It’s a relief to be in my body and not frazzled or distracted. And it’s funny. Because there’s a basic humour in being alive. Remember crying with laughter over nothing? Or perhaps a quieter sense of humour that comes out of nowhere and spreads through your bones simply because you actively exist.
Being pregnant with humour seems essential to voice over. I don’t mean always about to crack up, but a sense of buoyancy I guess, or what the French call élan – the internet says “élan comes from a French word meaning to dart…Someone with élan can be said to dart around with enthusiasm and a unique flair”
I want to dart around with enthusiasm and a unique flair, don’t you?
Anyone learning the craft of acting or voiceover will encounter apparently simple directions such as ‘just be yourself’, ‘be in the moment’, ‘just relax’.
But the thing is that once a state of nervous tension has set in it’s not always easy to shake it off right away. Developing a set of tools to help prevent that tension from setting in not only helps but is essential.
If I think of creating the conditions for something to occur, it’s a different approach to thinking I have to free up right now for a specific end, which can end up making me feel more tense.
For example, I can think of releasing my jaw as I chop a carrot, talk on the phone, type on my keyboard. I can imagine my jaw is like a false beard which I can unhook from my upper skull and let dangle. Mechanically, that’s true to how the jaw connects to the skull. And the beard image makes me laugh.
In fact, thanks to the teachers I’ve had over the years and the resources I have on hand in books, there’s no end to what I can work with that will help free me up, and I can weave tips and exercises into my day so I’m always a little bit loosened up. Remembering to do this is the point here, because habit is unbelievably strong and will keep on doing what it knows best, unless I butt in and say HEY! The ban on fun is lifted!
Maybe you’re always naturally poised and feeling innate humour coursing through you. Being tension-free is a very natural state after all. It doesn’t feel like anything. It’s just like being yourself.
And while we’re on the subject of being yourself, what exactly IS that? It’s simple, right – it just means not trying to be like anyone else. And that includes not trying to be like yourself…cos trying to be like yourself implies that you’re reaching for something other than you. So that means if you stop trying to be yourself you’ll be you, right, authentically?
OK… I’m laughing.
As I hit mid-January, it’s high on my list to allow myself the pleasure of being alive more often.
Because it feels good. And because it’s an essential part of my ongoing training in voice over.