Slow Motion & Goldfish

A study of more than 2,000 people by Microsoft found that our average attention span is eight seconds, down significantly from previous research conducted in 2000 that found we have an attention span of 12 seconds. (For the record, the average goldfish is believed to have a nine-second attention span.)

“You Probably Don’t Have a Long Enough Attention Span to Read This,” Korin Miller, Yahoo News

I have a love hate-relationship with my iPhone. I love it because I’m connected. I hate it because I’m connected. There are days where I constantly check facebook, twitter, the news, and my productivity goes down the tube. Some days I feel like I’m moving from one task to the next and constantly running on a hamster wheel. I’m aching for a vacation.

Zooming out, I think about what that means in terms of acting. Eight second attention span. The energy required to memorize lines, deliver them with intent and connect with your scene partner (or the people behind the lens in commercials) is immense. Are we making our job more difficult because we’re chained to our phones?

A couple weeks ago, we spent our AdlerImprov class in Griffith Park.

17657_824562040931642_7193556226969529056_nThe final exercise was to leave a central point and explore the space in slow motion for 30 minutes and then return to the same spot 30 minutes later. The photo to the left is me moving in slow motion.

There’s something about forcing your whole body to move in slow motion. The energy required is still immense, but you get the benefit of really seeing, not looking, at the space.

Some observations:

-Moving one foot in front of the other is second nature, but when you slow down, you realize how much you take for granted. Muscles flex. Joints bend. Tendons stretch and compress. Balance teeters. There’s a lot that goes into just taking a step forward.

-Picking up a napkin in slow motion while a gentle breeze ruffles it takes a lot of concentration.

-I saw a tiny lizard scrambling away in the sand. I wanted to hold him and hug him and call him George.

-Tree bark. In some spots it was crusty with cracks like a war torn shield. In other places it’s stringy and felt like a Labrador’s fur.

-Peaceful. In a small clearing, the sun shone through and I sat in that moment for a couple seconds and took it in. Much needed tranquility.

-Some people will engage. Others will pretend they don’t see you and walk past you like you’re not even there. And others, like a woman walking her dog, will ask you what you’re doing. And when you respond, “Accccttttttttinnnnnnnnggggggg cccclllllllaaaassssssssss.” She’ll respond, “Moving in slow motion” while she gives a slow knowing nod because she gets it.

-People might look at you funny when they’re grilling on a bright sunny day and you’re having an improvised snow ball fight in the clearing.

A great class. And a great reminder to slow down and take in the world around you because there’s so much more to see, hear, smell, touch and feel.

A final haiku:

the tips

of the evergreen branches…

slowly turning brown