Inspiration: Look Up More: The Shared Experience of Absurdity


I’ll just come out and say it, I love the absurd.  There’s something magical and beautiful about frivolity that’s not tied down to reason and rationality.  Absurdity has this detachment from the material world which makes me remember that I am not only a physical body that needs to eat and shit, but also a mind that needs to be stimulated and awed.  There’s some sort of wizardry that the ludicrous possesses which can turn even the most mundane of situations and surroundings into a wonderland.

Take for instance Christo and Jean-Claude’s outdoor art, The Umbrellas.  It instantly turns a brown, barren California landscape into a fairyland. And that’s exactly what’s amazing about absurdity.  It’s play for adults.  It’s a time when we are pulled out of daily routine and everyday life and invited to immerse ourselves in imagination and wonder.  It invites us to see the world around us not as a hard, material setting but as a playground ripe with beauty and ready for exploration.

The magic and wonder of the ridiculous is never so powerful as when it is shared.  In the TED Talk below, Charlie Todd, founder of ImprovEverywhere, discusses the power of sharing absurd experiences.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the video:

“I love this moment in the video, because before it became a share experience, it was maybe a little bit scary, or something that was at least confusing to her.  And then once it became a shared experience, it was something funny and something she could laugh at.”

“There is no point and there doesn’t have to be a point.  We don’t need a reason, as long as it’s fun.”

This video really inspired me because it made me think about how something just a little bit absurd lends itself to an entire story.  The people who witnessed the no-pants subway ride (and all the previous ones that followed!) will forever have that story to tell — and to share.  It will be something to connect over and an experience that they can give to others through the telling of that story for the rest of their lives.

All storytelling should have an element of this.  Stories should leave you wanting to retell them, to share them.  Good stories are instant bridges between people.  They bring us together and link us in common experience.

And for me, I always want a little bit of the absurd.  I want a little bit of play, a little wink at my reader.  I want that moment when my reader and I are both frolicking in the playground of wonder and imagination and beauty that is the world we live in.

Because it’s really fun to play by yourself, but it’s even more fun to play with others.*

*Sexual innuendo absolutely intended.  I’m sorry.  I couldn’t resist.

Creative Commons love to Jon Delorey for the photo and, of course, to TED for the video!

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7 thoughts on “Inspiration: Look Up More: The Shared Experience of Absurdity

  1. Thanks for posting this. It made me laugh, and I needed it this morning. The one that made me smile most was the High 5 guy. Every one of those people told their friends about it when they got to work, I’m sure, which passed on more laughs.
    Great post.

  2. Awesome post. I saw this video about a month ago, and it made me smile then, and again now. Forgive me for stalking your Blog, but it’s really interesting and thought provoking ^^ Hope you continue to write!~

  3. Thanks for visiting our blog. I, too, am a fan of the absurd. I recently interviewed a psychotherapist for a book project and he said that an appreciation for the absurd is the premier sign of mental health! My personal motto is, “At least I’m laughing!” Again, thanks for your visit. Hope you will stop by again soon.

  4. Pingback: A vision through and beyond « clearskies, bluewater

  5. Pingback: Flecks of Inspiration to Ring in the New Year | Lightning Droplets

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