Happy New Year, and may you see many vegetable people in 2012

I was just glancing through “Old Friend from Far Away,” thinking it’s been a while since I just wrote randomly from a writing prompt.  I stopped on a page titled “Radish.”  The first paragraph opens:

“This is a wish. When you are writing about a radish, that you and the radish meet face to face. That you stay specific, present, and direct and through your true intention the radish becomes RADISH. You instantaneously summon the particular and also give life to the essence of that buried root plucked up red and edible.”

It’s good advice, I think, as I’m typing it out now, but that’s not what came to mind when I began to read.  I got distracted by memories of vegetable people.  I went through an odd phase a long time ago, when I couldn’t help but compare people to vegetables.  Visually, I mean.  One night, I was sitting at IHOP with my roommate and best friend, and someone walked in and I said, “Doesn’t that woman look like broccoli?”  My friend worked hard not to spit out his coffee, but in the end, he agreed that she looked surprisingly like a stalk of broccoli.  I can’t picture her anymore or I’d describe it for you better.  You might think people don’t really look a lot like vegetables, and maybe you’re right.  But, I challenge you to give it some thought.  You may not always see a vegetable when you look at a person, but you will be surprised how often you do, if you just think about it.  Leave your mind open to the fact that people can resemble, or at the very least, remind you of, vegetables.  Or other foods, if you need a broader target.

In the next few days, you might find yourself noticing that someone with a mottled complexion makes you think of frozen mixed vegetables, or someone that stands stiffly brings to mind a carrot.  Perhaps a balding man reminds you of a peeled onion, or someone else with spiky hair makes you think of the root end of a green onion.  The point is, allowing yourself the extra space to think about random things like this might make you smile just a little more frequently, and we could all stand to do that.  My New Year’s resolution is to see more vegetable people this year.

I haven’t given it a lot of thought until this minute, but if I had to classify a few of the characters I’ve introduced you to here, I’d say this.  My partner most resembles a stalk of celery (she’ll probably want to smack me for this comparison, but I mean no harm).  Barefoot boss – he’s a fingerling potato.  Gopher-man, hmm, I’ll have to come back to him – a cabbage, maybe.  Long Back Guy, an unripened Fresno chili.  The Guatemalan, a pineapple.  Cat Power, a roma tomato. Grass-phobia girl, a crimini mushroom.  Me, I probably look sort of like an eggplant.  Happy New Year!

Trying to trigger my “right-brain”

I got back yesterday from my trip to Spokane for the Leadership and Imagination course I mentioned a few days ago.  Our first session, and Art scared the hell out of everyone in the course right from the start.  Apparently, we are all left-brain thinkers, relying on logic, checklists, organization, language, and structure to make our respective ways through life.  Our instructor, though, was determined to show us how to trigger our right-brain, the artistically creative hemisphere of our brains, into action.  We began by viewing a line drawing upside down, and attempting to replicate the drawing in 25 minutes.  
My first thought was, “OK.  No big deal.  I can certainly copy a drawing, even if I can’t draw anything from my imagination worth a damn.”  How wrong I was!  Viewing the image upside down shattered our ability to make sense of the lines.  I started at the bottom, because the lines there seemed much less daunting than those that made up this odd-looking man’s head.  Here is what I ended up with after 25 minutes of painstaking sketching (couldn’t turn off my perfectionist drive).

Upside Down Man

My attempt at copying Upside Down Man

While I think I was on my way to a passable copy, the most interesting part of the exercise is how difficult it was to make any progress quickly simply because the image was upside down, and our brains couldn’t “name” the parts of the picture instantly, like they would if the picture were right-side up.

The next exercise we did was to draw an image of our non-writing hands, curled up in some fashion, so it didn’t look like a kindergarten turkey.  To do this, we had to turn our bodies completely away from the table, hold our hands in the air in front of us, and write, almost behind us, so our left-brains would be a bit less tempted to cheat and look at the drawing.  I expected to see a mess of scribbles that looked like the wires behind so many people’s computer desks.  Imagine how shocked I was to see this!

Blind sketch of my hand

I may always view myself as the worst possible visual artist that walked the earth, but these exercises were interesting, in that, they force your brain to respond differently, and can serve to “prime the pump,” as our instructor said, when it comes to helping push people into a more creative space.  Unfortunately, I did not think to take a picture of the clay sculpture I made of Gollum (which was supposed to be my adorable cat).