I have been listening to Esperanza Spalding and thinking about improvisation. “Improvisation,” Spalding says, “is about showing up with no agenda and no idea of how to get to the end and working together to create value.”

In other words, it’s what we do every day.

How do I greet each day – each moment – with open hands, open mind and open heart?

We find comfort in supposing that we know what’s next, that life will be better if we mold it to an expected storyline of progress and accomplishment. Or maybe that’s just me…

I watch dogs in the park on their morning outings. Tails wagging, noses wiggling, mouths open,  they go out to meet the day without the baggage we humans carry (both literally and figuratively).

How do I listen and respond to others as though we were playing jazz?

So often, if people around me do the unexpected, I get angry or disappointed. What if, instead, I respond as though we were cooperating to produce music? They play a riff and then I make variations and repeat it back…

The only thing that needs to change is my attitude. The stage is set. The other performers are ready to do their parts. My tasks are to be open, listen well and let the piece move me toward beauty.

In a month when I am considering courageous advocacy, I want to go further: where there is disrespect and injustice, I want to play notes of compassion and beauty. Though I may not change the overall composition, I will know I did but I could do.