Back in school, an instructor led us in an activity. He pulled out a bag of plastic toy animals. The class was told to pick one that we related to.
I always sat as close to the door as possible. Unless I'm leading, that's my place in the room. If I neither trust the person at the front nor the group around them, I want to be the first one out the door if things go sideways.
This tactical survival advantage didn't always help. On this day? The only plastic toy left was a donkey. An ass. It was perfect. It was me. After playing with the animals, embodying them and relating to each other in playful animal ways (theatre school is nutty) we had to talk about our relationship with the beast we 'picked'.
When it came to me, all I could do was shrug.
> *Pretty self explanatory don't you think? I'm an ass.*
I said that proudly. I was a proud ass. The notion of that is remarkably foolish. Pride is a ridiculous sentiment. One minute I'm great. The next? Not so much. The only real problem with pride is hoping that it will be the only emotion you experience around your work and sense of self.
As for being an ass? That was an easy role for me to take on. I'm sure at some point in time, someone called you a jackass. No? Wow. Have you ever been asked: What kind of jackass are you anyway?
The worst by far is this one: Don't be an ass.
Yup. I can't help it. I'm an ass. Telling me not to be an ass is like telling a cantaloupe not to be a melon. Which would be difficult because a cantaloupe is a melon. And it's not because it's a cantaloupe. Either way, it gets married in a church with the whole family around...
Thank you very much. I'll be here all week...
Idiocy aside, the instructor pushed a bit.
What else do you know about donkeys?
I didn't. He told me to imagine that the rest of the group were a bunch of horses. He sent me off to research about donkeys and horses.
It turns out that donkeys and horses though similar are also quite different. And these differences mean that donkeys can be excellent companions and, in some ways a caregiver to a herd of horses.
Donkeys have excellent hearing and a wider field of vision than horses. They are especially alert while grazing and can either warn a herd or ward off a predator with their loud braying.
Horses tend to be high energy, twitchy and a bit anxious. Donkeys tend to calm the horses down.
Horses tend to bolt when spooked. Donkeys respond more slowly. Their fight and flight response has a lot more fight. They attack predators head on. Even the family dog isn't safe from a donkey as a donkey sees any canine as a threat.
Despite this aggressive nature, donkeys are in fact quite sweet and wise animals. They tend towards stoicism as an animal. They're great at hiding the fear and pain. You need to really tune in to see these things in a donkey.
Donkeys also are by nature, cautious. They take time to think things over. If they've had a bad experience, they are highly reluctant to return and try again. A steady stream of rewards can be helpful in training a donkey.
These were my takeaways from the research.
I felt more proud than ever to be an ass.
How are you donkey like?
Are you more like a horse or a donkey?
I haven't shown you the horse side of things yet.
I guess that will come soon enough.
One Derful Thing
These are little daily suggestions, games, ways to play and notice what happens when you excite both your nervous system and your imagination.
This is a call out from the King of Sweeden.
The other country: Sweeden.
It’s like Sweden, only sweeter.
It’s like Sweeden
Only more perspiration-y
So. This is your chance to audition
In front of the King of Sweeden.
The sound of a coffee grounder.
Not any coffee grounder
But the Peugeot 342567b manufactured in the late summer of 1957.
Not the Peugeot 342567a which was released that January.
The improvement? The 342567b was made with stainless steel parts in place of some of the brass ones resulting in a distinctive, yet random ‘ping’ sound.
Unfortunately, no record of this coffee grounder exists. Even on the internet!
The King of Sweeden however?
He has a photographic memory of sound.
Which likely doesn’t help that much because sound really isn’t a picture, unless it is, in which case I’m wrong.
Regardless of that.
The King of Sweeden needs this sound reproduced with the highest level of accuracy for an upcoming film.
On your mobile device, record a version of you making this sound. Use it as an alert. Use it as a ringtone.
Or, email it as a reply to this message and I’ll pass it on to the King of Sweeden.
Everyone who does a submission gets a post card, hand written by me.
They get two.
And as of right now?
No one has tried to play.
I haven’t sent this message yet.
That was like a joke
Only not one
It hopes to be a joke one day.
Perhaps when it grows up.
Either a joke or an accountant it tells me.
I’m thinking - go joke.