Tag Archive: The Curious Thing

Friday, June 7, I read for Cracked Walnut at The Salon in Rochester. I’d been racking my brain on what to read, pretty much since the invitation to speak arrived weeks ago. All I knew was that I wanted to put together a lineup that was upbeat and offered inspiration.

I finally deciding on a smattering of things: a verse poem with rhyme (because nobody rhymes anymore), a blog I wrote about children and Moses (someone ahead of me used the F word quite a bit, so at the last minute I figured F-it, if you can say that, I can say Moses), and three excerpts from UDK depicting scenes of restaurant chaos, anxiety of the beaten path with a desire for freedom, and the encouragement of having all the answers already within us. Then I ended with the bottle piece that I’d stared at all day long, trying to get the ending right. The Salon

As I got to the last few lines of the bottle piece, I couldn’t help but close my eyes and let it all come out. I didn’t think of it at the time, but now I remember the delight I get every time I see a musician pour heart and soul into a piece and sing with closed eyes as if it doesn’t matter anymore who is watching or listening; the important part is offering up what you have. As I performed the last lines from memory, I imagined the words bounding off the page and taking flight, like birds leaping from a cliff. It’s a powerful moment of trust when you set something free into the world.

When I stepped back from the microphone and opened my eyes, the audience applauded. Otherwise, I have no idea what effect, if any, my reading had. It was all I could do not to say, “Did you see that??” because I felt as if the room were changed. Even if nothing visually had happened, the energy was different, and so was I.

The Bottle Will Find Me…It Always Does

Question: What if the Chief’s daughter is ugly?
I mean, what if you get
to the beautiful island, they let you live
and surf and eat all the shrimp cocktail you can eat,
you design beautiful thatched-roof huts
with sand floors the likes of which
have never been equaled, and the ocean is always
warm and inviting, no sharks,
just dolphins and waves, waves, waves…
and the beautiful woman you were supposed
to have thrown at you is not so beautiful?

What if she’s the slop cook
at the island’s only burger joint?
Or what if she’s beautiful but
has a mean spirit and a cold heart?

Plans are only plans, my friend,
and you’re walking a fine line today.
Sure, this side of paradise
is not so pretty,
why do you think Fitzy wrote that book?

I’m letting it go.
That’s all the practicality I have.

on the other hand
dangling in the ocean water,
why the hell not?

surf the ocean, climb the mountain,
grasp the brass ring, leave all this behind you
and only look forward.
Make no arrangements–break freeDSC01057
from the weight of your things,
let them all go,
forget the job, the car,
the house on the corner lot,
even the piano (you’ll get another one!)—
leave this life all behind you
and seek out the one you were meant to have,
and when you do,
send a postcard or a message
in a bottle
back to me
in some language other than English,
in some language that you just make up on the spot,
or just draw me
a crayon drawing
because I already understand.

Special thanks again to Satish Jayaraj for founding and organizing the Cracked Walnut Readings, to C4 and The Salon for hosting the event and being a well-needed gathering place for artists of all kinds, and for all of the talented readers and performers that showed off their stuff that night.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, available on Amazon.


The Curious Thing

As we wind down the Sunday School year and practice for this year’s finale, I’m reminded of last year where my second and third grade class acted out Moses parting the Red Sea in front of the parish parents. We divided the class into two groups, one for Israelites and one for Pharaoh’s army. The Israelites dressed up in robes and hats and carried their belongings with them, mostly wheeled suitcases with the occasional rag bag tied to a stick. Pharaoh’s army group carried the swords they made in class out of cardboard and aluminum foil (decorated with jewels, of course) and were instructed to act as marauders.

Aswordss these things go, everyone wanted to be in Pharaoh’s army and no one wanted to be an Israelite. (I hear Moses had the same problem.) So, we did the skit twice in order to rotate the groups. Thus, everyone got to be in Pharaoh’s army. We explained this to the parents and no one minded watching it two times.

Picture: The army stalking the Israelites around the watching parents, Moses raises his staff and parts the Red Sea (a giant sheet of blue paper filled with colorful paper sea creatures the kids invented), the Israelites pass between the paper sheets which then close over Pharaoh’s army who fall to the ground and lay there flopping and twitching. (Look out Hollywood! These kids know how to be dramatic.)

The curious thing is that, during rehearsal, as the army lay flopping and twitching, and the Israelite kids were supposed to be celebrating their miraculous getaway, the Israelite kids again and again dropped their bags and returned to pull the twitching army kids to safety (away from the paper water), yelling things like, “Don’t die, my friend! Live! Live!”

Boys dragging boys by the arm, girls pulling girls, teams of Israelite kids pulling a train of the fallen Pharaoh’s army who’d linked arms… The teachers and I tried to stop them, reminding them that that’s not how the story goes. Then we conceded that if they wanted to save each other, it was okay for practice, but not for the real show in front of the parents. And finally, we silly adults stopped being directors and let the kids do what came naturally.baggage

And that’s just it, the major life lesson that I learned from them that week: When left to their own devices, kids drop their baggage and try to save each other. They don’t hesitate. They act on instinct.

It’s a lesson that changed the way I think about the world.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, available on Amazon.

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