Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Us.

So this amazing writer friend, Tara Morrow, is using Facebook to create something incredible. She asks things like this in her status updates:
  • Tara likes chicken dumplings. But is still hungry and doesn't like that. And she wants to know: Why do you believe? 
  • Tara wants to know: What is your first priority?
  • Tara thought this day would never end. And she wants you to finish this sentence: "If I find nothing else in a partner, I've GOT to have ______."
Then, using the answers, she writes “status poems,” like this one:
Dear Potential Partner:

I am writing this letter to let you know what I need from you. Now, I’m not asking for the moon here. I am very open-minded. But there are just a couple things I can’t live without. A few small things I’m going to need you to deliver if you intend on sticking around. First of all, I need you to be humble--to acknowledge that there is indeed a power greater than you. (I know this is difficult for some.) If you understand this, if you have a true relationship with God, you’ll know that anything can happen.

I also need respect, communication and honesty. Someone who is brave with a beautiful mind. I need a good friend who can relax, who has an incredibly well-developed sense of humor (smart, not wacky), and is happy to just BE. You have to be patient (because I’m special) and you have GOT to be able to say you’re sorry. Because sometimes you should be.

I am looking for someone with good home training and good credit. If you also have a trust fund, or a few million, I won’t complain. (Not a requirement.) I am looking for compatibility, a healthy balance, and reciprocity. Don’t make me do all the work. I’ll get tired and you’ll be wondering where I went. “Where’d she go?” Yes. That will be you. And you won’t like it. (This is me trying to help you out.)

It also helps if you have reasonably good spelling and grammar skills.* I’m particular about those things. I will correct you. I won’t mean to, but I can’t help myself.

Now, like I said, these are just a few things I’m going to need you to bring to the table if you want this here. If it’s too much, that’s fine. I understand.

I still have my favorite blanket to keep me warm at night. I have faith in myself and the knowledge that God will deliver. I am infinitely connected to humanity. And I have love. I still have love. Will always have love.

By Wandra, Reginald, Ingrid, Quita, Angela, Brian, Trish, Dan, Cory, David, Langston, Teresa, Dawnyale, Jennifer, Mary, and Tara
And this one:
Sometimes
I think no one needs me,
but that I’m nice to have around.
Other times
I’m surprised by those who do.*

My parents need me.
My patients.
My unbelievably talented staff.
My friends need me
to be fun and sensitive and available,
especially Laura,
whose father died before she got to say goodbye.

My dog who is recovering from surgery needs me.
My cat, who may not say it in words,
but says it.
My boo needs me.
And children in Africa
who have no water to drink.

My own children need me.
For food, comfort, shelter.
To build a bridge
from girlhood to womanhood,
boyhood to manhood.
To help them figure out the world
and how to relate to it, exist in it,
and show it love and respect.
I never have to ask if they need me.
I know they do.

My body needs me to exercise.
My mind needs me to use it.
My faith needs me,
because my soul needs something to believe in.

I need me.
To put up and keep up
boundaries around my sanity.
To be focused.
To be a rock for my spouse,
a role model for others.
To keep “getting after it” for the good of all.
I need me and you
to cast off these hard-to-crack ego shells
so we can make the world better.

So many people need me.
So many things.
So often.

It’s a good thing I need to be needed.

By Mark, Wandra, Trish, Ericka, Mary, Laura, Erin, Malea, Carla, Quita, Cat, Kerry, Brian, Jennifer, Rachel, Ann, David, Nicole, Zack, and Tara
I love them because her writing is beautiful. And the people who add to the work are vulnerable and wonderful. I think most of all, though, I love the idea. (And yes, both of the poems above were ones I contributed to. Because it’s cool to be included, and I’m not above being the audience member who claps like a seal when you use my suggestion.)

It’s
stone soup

It might feel like too much work to create art by yourself. Who has time? But if all you have to contribute is a line…then, OK. I'm in.

Improv audiences say things like “how do you think so fast?” and “you’re so quick-witted” and “you’re just so funny.” If you walked on stage expecting to be those things, your head would explode. Me? I’d end up in the fetal position, slightly off stage, rocking back and forth.

But like the travelers in the Grimm Brothers’ Stone Soup, improvisers know the trick—you bring an empty pot, and rely on others to fill it up. You throw out a line, and trust your scene partner to add another. Line by line, you create the funny.

Tara does more than go a line at a time. She does a lot of the heavy lifting.

But the coolness comes from the same place. We are greater than the sum of our parts. Together, we are smarter than we are by ourselves. There is something meaningful and moving and magical about adding our ideas to others’ ideas to get to a place we’d never find on our own.

Sometimes, Wikipedia gets it right: 
This fable can be thought of as "The Emperor's New Clothes" in reverse, where nothing is revealed to be something, after all. The original stone was only a pretext to start the villagers sharing in a way that they would not have considered without the catalyst of the "stone soup" that they thought they were improving.

*Yeah, that's mine. Bark! Bark! 

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