Acting Metaphors: The Stickshift

The idea of the stickshift is that you might start out in first gear: some surface truth (you’re wearing a blue shirt). By adding energy (stepping on the gas), the tachometer starts to go up. At the moment of highest energy, some new behavior, a response to what is going on in the moment, will emerge. Now the repetition shifts to that new observation of behavior, which is probably deeper (a higher gear) than the surface truth. The RPM might go down, but the energy level is maintained because of the increased inherent meaning in focusing on the behavioral response (instead of on a new surface behavior). Adding more energy to the repetition brings the partners into the red again, which leads to another shift change. The process continues until the partners reach an end point (hello or goodbye) or one of them downshifts. As one of my teachers put it: Always trade up in terms of meaning. Always go for the more meaningful behavior.

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