The Post – Gab to Go

Given it’s Monday, you expect to see someone sitting at their desk with a coffee cup sipping tentatively before plunging into whatever awaits. So it’s not a surprise that I have this Styrofoam cup on my desk. The odd thing is it sits next to my regular ceramic mug, which is what’s actually holding my caffeinated drink of choice – tea. So why the Styrofoam cup?

Ah, a throw-back to yesterday’s post – start this one with a question, right? Well, questions are the order of the day, and that’s exactly the point with this Styrofoam cup. It doesn’t contain caffeine. It’s loaded with . . . questions. No it’s not some mystical beverage, or some liquid whose swirls you gaze into or whose curls of steam you study for the secret of life. It’s a game. And to a writer, it’s like a playground.

Questions are the staple of a writer’s life. It doesn’t matter if it’s nonfiction, essays, or fiction, you write to answer questions. Whether it’s what killed the dinosaurs, why we should care, or a story about bringing them back to life in a doomed amusement park, all three start from a question. No questions, nothing to contemplate, and hence nothing to write.

A question here: In an era of You Tube, My Space, video games and Instant Messaging, how do you cultivate a love for, and the ability to confront questions? No this isn’t another essay bemoaning all of this technology in our kids’ lives. Technology is here to stay and frankly, a lot of it is great. Just see the effect on homebound elderly who’ve embraced email and the web and thus feel connected not isolated. And let’s be honest, even adults are glued to all of the above, not just teens. It’s simply a realization that unless the power goes out, everyone is plugged into something electronic (like this blog?) and when is there time to sit across the table from someone, ask a question, and ponder an answer?

One family confronted this on a vacation trip. They realized each was plugged into their own electronic device, and hence, their own world. Fine up to a point. But there was no conversation. No connection. Now I’m not dissing this completely because hours of several people jammed together in a closet on wheels can get old. Each having their own space for a little while can be a relief. However, I did grow up in an era of “See how many different states’ license plates you could find” or “look for whatever object came up next on a list” as you traveled down the highway. Like it or not, you interacted. So I can understand this family’s concern.

They came up with a simple yet elegant solution. They came up with a list of questions, things like: “What is something about you that would surprise most people?” “What word do you really dislike?” “What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?” Simple questions. Yet even one person’s answer could lead to not only an extended conversation, but a newfound appreciation for people you reside with and ordinarily take for granted. We often find talking to “new people” exhilarating because it’s something new and different. Yet how many new and different things are within the very people sitting next to us that we may have grown bored with?

The family went ahead and created a product – a bunch of question cards in a Styrofoam coffee cup – and have recently started to market it. It’s called “Gab to Go.” It started locally and is beginning to spread as people realize what a gift asking a question can be.

For myself, I could probably take each question and write at least one post on it, maybe more, depending on how I slanted it. The possibilities, if not infinite, are pretty extensive. In fact, I may use a question/essay approach on a regular basis in future entries. For now, I revel in the new worlds and travels never imagined, with people very close to me, all because somebody thought to ask a question.

If you’re interested in learning more about the how and why behind this couple’s game, and news articles on their idea, check out “Gab to Go.”

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