One of the most amazing blessings* in my life is what I do for work. Not because I’m wildly successful at it or respected for it or even particularly good at it. Because it allows me to do the thing I like best. See people and what they’ll do. What a writer thinks they’ll do when in a specific and unlikely situation. What they’ll do when the director has been gone for a few months and they think they can get away with some edits. What they’ll do when faced with something horrible. What they’ll do when they think something is funny. What they’ll do when they are amused that someone else finds something funny. People reacting to each other is my favorite form of entertainment, bar none.
A few months ago I worked with a lovely man who posed to me a question: How badly do you want to go to the moon?
Do I have to pay a lot of money to do it?
How long will I be there for?
What can I bring?
Can I talk to my family on the phone? Am I in an airplane seat for more than 20 hours straight?
Apparently a series of questions was the wrong answer.
Your answer should be “Yes, I’d do anything!”
Eh, Honestly I’d rather travel the globe. And when we asked the rest of our co-workers, most of the men wanted to go to the moon and look down on humanity from there. And most of the women wanted to travel the world for a few months to a year.
I don’t have any insight as to why this was split along gender lines.** I just know I want to see all the people. I want to see them with each other. Up close and personal.
There’s something so beautiful about watching a crowd react, at once, and separately. To a shared stimulus and to each other. Have you ever watched a crowd watching a funny scene? It’s amazing.
A joke is made and while all people can laugh maybe only a few are open enough to vocalize their glee at that
moment, usually snort-laughers. But then there are the few that are just a half a beat behind, the ones that are instantly given permission to laugh because of the first wave. The next wave will be the people who are laughing at the original laughers. And then there’s the third wave of people who are laughing because they’re noticing this trend. Or noticing the performers reaction to being laughed at. And pretty soon it’s a microcosm, an ecosystem, a living breathing thing all on it’s own; like the economy or riding a bicycle, all it needs to not fall is to keep going.
Everyone has a moment when they permit themselves to laugh and everyone has a distinct laugh. Everyone has a soul that’s unique and everyone has an expression that’s unique.
And you can tell in a crowd if it’s full of people who will allow themselves to be cheered or if it’s full of people who will insist on lowering the room. There are so many things you can tell about people by putting them in a room together and giving them a reason to laugh.
There’s no better, no more spontaneous performance in the world. No better way to see group individuality.
*Note to self, find agnostic word for ‘blessing’.
**I’ll happily entertain theories in comments!