The Fabulous Decomposing Ball

Turns out the less you talk the more the other guy will talk. What else are shrinks doing? How else did people find themselves telling Jesus about every last sad thing that was pressing upon them? They did it because someone was listening to them.

Tomorrow I’ll drive through what looks to be a chilly spring rain to “listen” to the 25 people who have signed for my journaling workshop.

Not that I’m some big expert on journaling. Really all I know is that if you tell a story, the person listening will tell a story back. My one aim tomorrow is to help the people who come realize that the things they see and a hear in their daily lives make stories every bit as interesting as the ones some of us get paid for telling.

Here’s a little story now:

I was with my youngest in the supermarket; he was maybe 11. He asked me for two quarters to drop into one of those little vending machines there by the door. He trotted over and the next minute was fishing out a small plastic sort of a ‘jigsaw’ ball which looked like you were supposed to take apart and put back together again.

We knew right away that the people who made it were new to English not just because of what the toy was named – the fabulous decomposing ball – but because of the advice on how to use it printed on a wee piece of paper, which I quote verbatim. It said,

  1. Hold in Hand
  2. Drop to Floor
  3. Have Fun Decomposing.

This  little haiku had four or five perfect strangers  laughing along with us there by the cash register, and for sure that was something I didn’t expect to see happen when I set out that day to follow my same old path to my same old supermarket.

That’s the point though: that’s just the way most laughter comes, unannounced and as a gift, and as often one given to us by some stranger.

If I told that story Saturday I bet a dozen people would come up with stories on the same theme that were funnier still. It’s just how things work with human beings.

The workshop is a brown-bag lunch affair so if you do come, come with a sandwich and a drink.

We’ll have fun, I promise.

I’ll bring extra pens and notebooks for people who don’t think to bring them. Oh and call the library first so they can set up more chairs. The number ,if you live in New England and can maybe get there, is 978-897-1010.

Richard Russo is speaking! And Andre Dubus III! Roland Merullo, Jane Brox and Margaret Livesey. What a day it will be!   

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