Every year, a few weeks before his birthday, a childhood friend of mine, who is a high school teacher in Michigan, sends out a group email to his friends and family, reminding them that he wishes to receive no material gifts for his birthday, while requesting that they either tell him about a particular extraordinary event they’ve witnessed in the past twelve months, or to partake in a particular activity and then to tell him about it. Over the years, these so-called birthday requests have included:
1) Tell me about someone in your life that did something positive for you that you will never forget; 2) Tell me one thing that made you cry this past year and five things that made you laugh; and 3) Take off your shoes and socks and walk barefoot on Mother Earth for at least five minutes and then email me what you experienced.
Each year, I look forward to my friend’s new request (his birthday falls in early October so an email from him should be coming soon). And each year I’m reminded that, in sending these little requests out to friends and family, my friend is in fact sending along little gifts. That is, each year, without fail, I find myself thanking my friend for having taken me out of my daily rounds, if only briefly, to either think about something extraordinary, or to partake in something extraordinary, and then to have to write about it.
And as I was thinking about my friend’s birthday requests today, I realized his so-called requests would make perfect writing prompts. And so, stealing the third example from above, today’s prompt is to do just that: Take off your shoes and socks and walk barefoot on the earth for at least five minutes. And then write about your experience.