Monthly Archives: December 2010

Too Much Lemonade

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Creating Personalities
 

We live our entire lives as ourselves, experiencing life from our own points of view, through the filter of our own personalities. What would it be like to experience life as someone else, even for just a moment?

That’s what I’m experimenting with this week. I’ll try to put another person/character in the foreground of my personality and myself in the background for a few moments each day.

Today I took on Nina, the overly cheery Corporate Accounts lady from the movie Office Space. You know the type, everything is always super-duper, make lemonade out of lemons, happy, happy, happy.

Nina stepped into a couple of interactions I had over the past 24 hours. First, I pulled her out while talking about a mundane topic with a couple of people I know. At the end of the conversation, Nina beamed from ear to ear and wished the two others a “Very joyous day!”. I was met with a sarcastic smile and slight eyeball rolling. Fully absorbed as the character of Nina, I felt my eyes go big, giving a “Who peed in your cornflakes?” look. I brushed off the reaction and continued on my merry way.

It was a new experience for me, not my usual way of ending a conversation or responding to sarcastic mockery.

Nina came back later in the day to interact with a fellow exuberantly happy lady. My cheer was met with corresponding cheer, escalated half a notch, to which I squealed back just a little louder- as did she. Pretty soon our interaction spiraled into a back-and-forth of stupendous glee and I just couldn’t take it anymore! I pushed Nina out of the way and took back control of myself. That was the end of that.

Like hats to match outfits, putting on and taking off various people may come in handy. If nothing else, it’ll contribute to my personal amusement. And that’s worth something- to me anyway.

Thanks to Ric at http://uphillwriting.org/ for inspiring the idea of getting inside a character.

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 Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Rabbit Hole

I looked down the rabbit hole, down, down. It seemed endless, and yet, from somewhere down below, I saw what could have been someone who looked like me.

And there I was, at once at the bottom of the rabbit hole, and at the same time at the top.

“Is that you down there?”

“Is that you up there?”

Occupying space, standing there, me looking back at me, reflecting, pondering, puzzling. Stoic. Backlit against the desert sky, barely visible in the dark cavern, shades of time, shades of feelings. Same person, same time, alternate reactions to the same circumstance.

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adventure vs. Adventure

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Creating Adventures
 

The themes over the last couple of weeks have been about moving concepts discussed in previous weeks into ‘real life’. Last week centred on looking at things from a new perspective, and this week on exploring (or imagining) an adventure each day.

This week’s theme has been the most challenging since the start of the blog. I got hung up on the word ‘Adventure’. It got me thinking of the disctinction between lower-case ‘a’ adventure, and capital ‘A’ Adventure.

In my day-to-day, I can work on creating adventures by doing small things like talking to new people, going to a different part of the city, changing an aspect of my behaviour. These all require little time and effort. The results can include a heightened awareness of my surroundings, and a greater openness to new things.

But I wonder if there is a moment when the law of diminishing returns kicks in- going on lower-case ‘a’ adventures generates smaller and smaller results. The novelty wears off. Is that the moment to explore a capital ‘A’ Adventure? Have I arrived at that moment?

It begs the question- what is the content of that capital ‘A’ Adventure? In my books, it must be something completely different from my day-to-day, significant (another word requiring further definition), for my good and the good of others, and a whole heck of a lot of fun.

So to close the week, my adventure of the day is to close my eyes and let my mind wander in a thousand directions to dream up possible Adventures. Perhaps I will land on one to pursue.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Clinging So Tightly

“I always clung so tightly, but to what I could not say.”

She is particular- things have to be just so- the distance between place settings, the fold in the napkins, arrangement of the centrepiece. Guests are coming. If things aren’t perfect, what will they think?

Her social circle is small. Not many meet the standard. Those who do need to be kept within their own tidy box- one never coming in contact with the other. Life is easier that way. Manageable.

Enter children. Three of them. They, also, must be controlled, taught exactly how to behave, where exactly to place things. No room for error.

What will happen when they grow into the ability to enact their own choices and cast off the borders that have been drawn for them? Will she cling so tightly as to break the bonds, or will she learn to let them go?

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E.T. and the Cows

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Creating Adventures
 

The adventure I didn’t have today:

It was like the scene in E.T. where Elliot releases the frogs about to be dissected in science class. “Run for your life! Back to the river! Back to the forest! Run!” he screams at them.

There they were, 4,000 cows released from the meat packing plant, free to roam the surrounding countryside.

The media circus was, of course, in full swing- reporters waving microphones in workers’ faces, cameramen alternating between close-ups of individual cows and long-shots of the herd spreading out across the fields.

“We’re tired of killing,” said the staff spokesperson. “We know it will mean we are all out of work, but we just couldn’t take it anymore.”

“What will you do now?” the reporter asked.

“Well, a group of us is raising funds to go on similar campaigns worldwide. We already have contacts, and donors are standing behind us.”

Off-camera he walked toward me, put his hand on my shoulder, and smiled, “We did it. Years of planning and we finally pulled it off.” He then took out a hip-flask, raised it in the the air, and cried out, “Long live the cows!”

What adventure do you wish you’d had today?

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Individuality

The line up is long and I am getting impatient. Conversation has run dry so I look around to distract myself- cars, ice cream stand, a group of- oh, potential point of interest- a group of ladies in front of us. I hadn’t noticed them before.

They are Hutterites. There are three girls who appear to be teenagers, and one older lady. Each has a bonnet, plain coloured top, patterned skirt, and sensible shoes- sneakers. One of the girls is standing to the side and I notice a peculiarity- one of her shoelaces is white, while the other is black. Could this be a subtle form of rebellion? Of trying to stand out? Of asserting individuality?

I imagine her as the girl who pushes the boundaries right to the edge, yet not overstepping them so as not to be called out. She questions and challenges, wonders why and searches out answers. She carries her own opinions.

The line is moving and I snap out of my thoughts. I smile at the girl and see reflected back to me an image of myself.  

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Hidden Talents

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Creating Adventures

I couldn’t live in a small town- I’d get tired of the same old faces and no new perspectives to explore.

I have a theory that in each new person I meet, there is the potential to glean a nugget of wisdom. So today, I went in search of a new nugget.

The opportunity came over lunch when I went to a deli I hadn’t been to before and ordered a fava bean salad- another first for me.

I noticed a couple of origami pieces casually displayed on the counter. They were no ordinary pieces- one was a cockroach with its various body parts precisely textured- corrugated legs, a shiny shell, and flat belly. Another was a unicorn with intricately sculpted muscles and a wind-blown mane. The artistry was incredible- and all made of simple paper.

The deli guy told me he had met a lady from South America who created origami designs. She personally taught him this art and he had taken it on obsessively.  He told me of the time it took to learn each piece, and how much work was required. There were projects he got involved in and people he met because of this passion he’d found. I was drawn into a world of richness amid the ordinary.

The line up grew and I took my hint from the glaring eyes behind me. I bid the deli guy goodbye and took with me my fava bean salad and a nugget of wisdom: you never know the hidden talents of those you encounter until you take the time to find out who they are. The deli guy who serves you may double as an artiste.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Chair

It sits there, as if it has a life of its own. I keep thinking it’s going to move, start morfing into a creature with four legs and two arms, ready to take on the world.

But it doesn’t go beyond just sitting there.

If it could talk, what tales would that chair tell of the asses that had sat upon it? Wide ones that bounced jovially as their owners told stories of buffoonery; skinny ones of girls who just wanted to be noticed; cold ones of old men too worn out to go anywhere except from home, to the pub, and back.

Ah, the stories that chair would tell…

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What’s In A Name?

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Creating Adventures

One year at summer camp I told my fellow campers that my name was Lynn. And so, for those three weeks, that’s who I was. I felt like a different person just by people calling me somthing other than my same-old same-old.

I wondered today if that trick would still work. To test it out, I asked a co-worker to call me by a different first name of her choosing every time she talked with me throughout the day. Good thing I have fun co-workers- she decided to play along.

Added to the mix is my short memory. Almost as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I fogot what I had asked for. So, when I got an email addressed to Lexi about half an hour later, I scrolled down to see if there was a previous email below which would explain Lexi’s identity. Nothing. I looked in the ‘Recipients’ line to see if I had been copied on an email intended for someone else. The email was sent just to me. And then it dawned on me- I’m Lexi! I chuckled and tried it on for size. How would I feel as a Lexi? Lexi responded with formality, precision, and confidence.

Soon after, my co-worker asked “Rachel” when she was going for lunch. Rachel suited me. She was polite and friendly, smiling as she answered.

When “Mercedes’s” opinion was asked late in the afternoon, I could do nothing but stare with a deer-in-the-headlights look. “Mercedes” didn’t work for me.

It was a small thing, really, experimenting with the name change., but it peppered the day with fun. Sometimes all it takes is a creative twist on a same-old same-old to brighten up the day.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Natasha

She never did like her name. ‘Natasha’ had always made her think of a stuffy old lady giving orders to unwillingly obliging servants She would have prefered to have been a Jane or a Rose. Simple is good.

However, no one had solicited her opinion at birth. In fact, the name had been pre-selected for her before she had even met the light of day. It was grandma Ellinton’s name. Which was exactly Natasha’s point- the name belonged in the past, not to her.

And so, at 21, she stood in line at the Registry office, waiting to change her name legally. As she waited, the tattoo parlor sign across the parking lot caught her attention: Lydia the Tattooed Lady. “Alright,” she thought on a whim, “I’ll call myself Lydia. Maybe I’ll even feel like getting a tattoo when I become her…” 

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