'All I want to do is surprise myself.' That's one of the things you should tell yourself right before going into an audition or in between takes or when going on stage. I think Jack Plotnick wrote about it in his book somewhere. I think it's brilliant advice. If you really truly only want that when you are performing, you give yourself permission to let go, really live the moment and be totally spontaneous.
But I've been thinking, 'All I want to do is surprise myself', doesn't only apply to going into scene work. It applies to life in general or more specifically to making the most of life. It's a way of giving yourself permission to get rid of bad habits, you know, the ones that are basically self-sabotage. There are the more obvious ones, like the habit of wedging out in front of a truly terrible reality TV show, instead of say learning lines or day dreaming or working on an accent or even just reading a good book. And then there are the more hidden and more sinister habits, like the ones where you tell yourself that you're no good at something; like teaching yourself an accent or writing a screenplay.
If you live by the motto that all you want to do is surprise yourself, then surely at least once every day your eyes will be open to one of those bad habits and you can say, 'Hey, listen bad habit! Crawl back under the rock you came from. I am not going to do as you please. Not today!'
I did that today. It felt wonderful. It made life more fun. I think, I'll keep surprising myself, actively and every day.
'You don't like it. So you say.
Try it and you may, I say.'
Dr Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham (or Green Eggs and Sam, as my son would say.)