Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fifty People, One Question

Stop what you're doing! Wait, don't stop yet, keep reading. Stop everything else you're doing, besides reading this, for just a moment. I just found something amazing, and I have to share; I want you to experience this, too.

Fifty People, One Question. They set up on the street and video 50 different people all answering the same question. So far they've released four videos. In Brooklyn and London they asked, "Where would you wish to wake up tomorrow?" In New York and New Orleans they asked, "What do you wish to happen by the end of today?"

And the answers are, simply, amazing. It's incredible how much insight you can gain into a person just by listening to their answers to these questions, and watching them as they think and then answer (and then think more). One little question. You might walk right past these people on the street, never giving them a second glance. And one little question changes everything. Their answers reveal so much--or almost nothing, which can also be revealing--about them.

You can watch all the videos in one place here, or hop around on Fifty People, One Question and read people's comments and their answers to the questions. Watch them all; I've watched some twice. The production is just beautiful, I adore the way these are put together. Beautiful. As my friend Jilliene would say, these videos are a gift.

It's heartbreaking, some of the answers given. Some of them make me think, "If that's your wish, why don't you make it happen? You can do that! Please, do that. Please, be happy." And I wonder what the reasons are for not doing it--like an author, I concoct life stories for them in my head. Some of the answers are more crushing; nothing can be done. Some are funny, and some make me think, "That's it? That's all you want?" Some are so humble that it makes me sad for them, and some are so humble it makes me happy for them.

And of course it's not just what they say, it's how they say it. It's the long pauses. The looking away. The smirks and sighs and nervous smiles. Those few seconds that the camera stays on them, urging them on, when in normal life everything is rush-rush-rush. These peoples' answers would not be the same if they'd been given five seconds to answer and then move on, please. They are given those few extra seconds, and they reveal something about themselves because someone is listening. Someone is interested and giving them their undivided attention.

What would happen if we all did that? If we all asked, "How are you doing?" and then stopped and actually listened? If we paused long enough to give people those few extra seconds to realize that we really did want to hear what they had to say, what would they tell us? And what would I say if someone asked me and really wanted to know the real answer? Would I still say, "Fine, thanks!" like I do when we're both just passing each other by? Would you?

And it makes me think, too, what my answers to the two questions would be. Where would I wish to wake up tomorrow, and what do I wish to happen by the end of today? Would it be the same answer if I had to answer quickly after being stopped in the street as it would be if I had the time to think about it and mull it over after watching other peoples' answers?

What are your answers? Where would you like to wake up tomorrow? What do you wish to happen by the end of the day? Could you make it happen? If not by tomorrow morning, if not by the end of today, but later; could you make it happen? What's stopping you? What's stopping me?


MissMVK said...

Great food for thought, Cameron!

Diana Dellos said...

ah, I loved this post. What a great video. Tomorrow, I would like to wake up the same place I always do - in my bed, at our home, with my family. It's comforting to me, totally safe. I feel blessed and content, even with chaos around us right now.

Heather said...

Thanks for visiting my blog....and for this great post and thought provoking question...I'd like to sleep until Wednesday and wake up in NC! See you at Inspired.