Week 16: Goat Improv
I arrive at the inauguration of goat improv, a class co-created between Hello Critter Yoga (the goats) and Creative Rites (the improv). It's a 2+ hour event and I walk into it sure that I will spend those hours willing the clock to tick faster. I’m all about goats, but improv’s not my thing.
There are 20-something of us humans and two Nigerian Dwarf goats, Floyd and Roscoe. Floyd is the white, reflective goat who seems more aloof and introverted (we bonded) and Roscoe is the calico, very interactive goat who likes to stand on people's backs. Maybe it reminds him of a mountain.
The order of events goes like this:
1. Become acquainted with our furry pals and mirror their movements. This is intended to let loose and tap into the energy of the goats. It involves most people getting on all fours and strutting around, pretending to eat paper and pee.
2. Translate goat speak. Two people at a time (one per goat) translate into English what the goats are "saying" to each other. Some of these conversations are hilarious because of the creative ingenuity behind them. (If you're in LA early this summer, give yourself the gift of this show. I haven't seen it yet but have tickets and promise you it will be good. Fiona was in the class and is hilarious.)
3. Confessions to a goat. One at a time, we go around the room and confess something to the goats. Some confessions are light, some heavy, one an apology for having eaten goat. This is the part that is easiest for me, because I am speaking directly to the goats. I tell them that they make the improv okay, and that I am more comfortable with them than with the circle of humans sitting around me. From the number of 'mmhmmms,' I think this lands with many people.
4. Dancing with the goats.
Like most animals, goats are inherently nonjudgmental and don't give a damn. Their presence dissipates the build up of any tension that would otherwise be there in an improv class half-full of people with improv-induced anxiety. Because they are naturally the very cute centers of attention, it gives us self-conscious folk some wiggle room to be silly and not worry too much about it.
Goats have their distinctive characteristics that played into the class as well. A description of Goat Power that was included on our introductory sheet:
"Goats are symbols of abundance, independence, surefootedness, eliminating guilty feelings, seeking new heights, and agility. The goat teaches us how to create a firm foundation on which to stand and helps us develop confidence as we move towards new heights.
They are attuned to nature's energies and are therefore able to move strategically through difficult terrain and go where other animals cannot. Goats can be a guide into the unexplored aspects of one's true self.
If this animal steps into your life, it can be letting you know that perhaps it's time to stretch and reach for new heights. This creature can also be letting you know that you have to trust your own ability to land on your feet. Having faith in yourself and your own abilities is a very powerful tool that is available to you at all times. Move forward, one step at a time."
So it makes sense that, as symbols for attaining new heights and having faith in one's own ability, goats are appropriate for an improv class.
Especially since Angel's Landing (and I did see a wild mountain goat later that day, walking along a ridge), taking one step at a time is a practice that has stayed in my thoughts daily. Physically, in my recent recovery process from twistedly falling off a horse, but also mentally…and even emotionally.
In the depths of pain and hurt and depression and confusion, thinking about anything beyond the next step, or even the next step itself, can seem overwhelming and debilitating. Moving forward can seem like wading in a pool of tar.
I'm realizing that the ability to take even the smallest next step when in that emotional state is extraordinary, perhaps even the skill of a lifetime. Especially when someone doesn't feel support from others. It takes a deep resilience.
Even without experiencing hard emotions, returning to the compass of the heart is always a step-by-step process. The heart that always keeps returning to choose love, its deepest dreams, and its most cherished relationships over all else will, in time, receive a response.
And goats are a great reminder of the step-by-step journey we take along the way. If you have a goat event in your area, go! They are so grounding, curious, playful, and fearless. They are also great listeners. I walk out with a sweet affection and appreciation for these gentle beings.
Wild goats, the bottom two were taken in Zion and are similar to the one I saw after hiking Angel's Landing.