In His Shoes
It’s always been a goal of mine to get to know people’s hearts and understand their perspective. I’ve been doing this since I was a young girl and I’ve gotten very good at understanding people and their perspective. However, I recently had the unique experience of stepping into someone else’s shoes (or perspective) in a way that I had never done before. And the experience happened not once or twice, but three times, in three very different ways. There is one specific experience I had that is still with me as though it occurred yesterday.
While riding the high of my recent impov breakthrough (Update-Special Post-Cleaning My Soul, Cleansing My Soul), I decided to take a character development workshop to help me as an improvisor. One of the activities in the workshop had us step into the shoes of our opposite sex parent. I have a great relationship with both of my parents and at first, I didn’t want to step into my dad (as character) because he is introverted and reserved like I have been all my life. But curious of what would come up, I decided to step into my dad’s shoes.
First, I had to get into his physicality and I thought how does my dad stand? How does he carry himself? We introduced ourselves to the class in character and described our wardrobe to the audience. Do I sound like he sounds? I thought. We were asked to close our eyes. Our instructor told us that there is an artifact behind us that is important to our character and to go get it. As I walked to the imaginary shelf, I thought am I walking like my father walks? I grabbed a picture frame of my father’s childhood home. I thought is this the most important artifact to my father? I presented the artifact to the audience. And I described the picture and talked about the meaning it had to my character aka my father. We were then asked to close our eyes again. And asked to introduce ourselves and talk about what we want in character. What does my Dad want? I thought. Tears filled my eyes as I thought. As I spoke the first sentence, my father’s first want tears rolled down my eyes. I paused and continued with his second want. I said, “I want to die knowing that my daughter’s will be taken care of.” And cried.
This was a powerful exercise. The energy in the room went from light hearted to heavy. So many tears were shed in class as both actors and audience. I learned something new about my father that day that I am glad I learned. I learned something profound about humanity through all the truths that were spoken and I was humbled. Later, I thought why don’t we know these things about each other? What would the world be like if we did this activity for everyone we knew? What would the world be like if we did this activity for the people we liked the least? This one activity has forever changed me. I will never forget it and I may just step into people’s shoes for a deeper understanding that one can gain from walking in them.