Tag Archives: rural life

Think Outside the Barn

(scroll down to photos if you’re in the mood for visual, not reading. Self explanatory.)
OR go to this link for SO MUCH MORE BARN FUN! http://lauramunson.wordpress.com/category/every-barn-has-a-face/

Have you guys been following my recent obsession? Barns. The fact that they have faces? I’ve been posting them on this blog in the EVERY BARN HAS A FACE category and literally taking off like an addict during the day to stalk barns all around Montana. It’s all I can do to NOT do it right now. And I finally figured out why: I am so interested in perspective and perception and assumtions and expectations. I’m so interested in seeing how they mess with us and inform our reactions. Often, we’ve already made our minds up about something before it’s even happened. We do ourselves such a disservice in this regard. What if we assigned different meaning to the things and people we encounter in our day? What if we surprised ourselves by changing the entry point of our interactions? I think we’d find some freedom there. I think we’d find some humor there too.

Here’s a challenge: Keep a camera in your car. If you are driving anywhere where you might see a barn…look at it like it has a face. Allow yourself to see it. What’s your knee jerk reaction? Who is it for you? Now inspire yourself to turn around, to seize the moment and stop. Take a photo. And send it in to: laura@lauramunsonauthor.com. Tell me “who” your barn is, and I’ll post it in my EVERY BARN HAS A FACE section of this blog. We’ll have some fun. We’ll think outside of the box (barn). We’ll remind ourselves of the power of stopping and playing with life. We’ll take ourselves a little less seriously and in so doing, dare I suggest: we’ll lighten the collective load.
Here’s what I’ve been up to below.

Have you ever noticed that every barn has a face? I grew up in the Mid-west and my parents liked to travel and money was tight. That meant there was a lot of time spent in the family station wagon, staring out the window as corn-fields met rocky mountains and oceans, depending on whether we took a left or a right. I saw a lot of barns. And every one of them had a face. I’d keep it to myself because this sort of thinking didn’t go over too well in my family. I was the youngest. I was always saying things that got either patronizing responses or just chirp chirp. I had a relationship with those barns. I still do. So much of how we relate to life is as the beholder. Beauty, barns, and otherwise. I’d love it if you shared your barns with me here. I’d love to see those faces. I’d love to see that you see them too.

Kalispell, Montana (side-talker)

Valier, Montana (needs braces)
Belt, Montana (has braces)

Red Lodge, Montana (that mean Nellie Olson)

Lewistown, Montana (Cyclops, the 8th dwarf)
Lakeside, MT (Meow)
Evergreen, MT (Mrs. Havisham maybe better on a foggy morning…)
Great Falls, Montana (Namaste or Burl Ives as the snow man in Rudolph. Can’t decide.)
Whitefish, MT (Hannibal Lecter)
Chester, Vermont (Gerorge Washington and his wooden teeth– why so long in the tooth? 1700s barn from Amy)

Kenosha, Wisconsin (a literal face and mini-me barn from Robb)
Bartow County, Georgia (Rapunzel Rapunzel, let down your hair… from Lisa)
For more, go to Every Barn Has A Face on this blog! http://lauramunson.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/side-talker/
Send in more!!!


Filed under Contests! Win a signed hardcover of THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS!, Every Barn Has a Face, My Posts

Dry Cleaners

Sometimes I wonder how living in a place where there’s no traffic, or noise (except for the neighbor’s rooster and occasional hail), or a Gap for that matter, for seventeen years, has changed me in my participation in the collective We. For instance, I take pictures of myself with my cell phone when I am in the city because I can’t believe I’m a part of so much energy and percussion and living and dying and breathing. I rubber neck the gargoyles on the upper floors of buildings– so much art everywhere created by so many creative minds. I crash into people on the street because I can’t keep my eyes off of a street musician, even though I’m late for a meeting. I talk to the cab driver.

The last time I was in NYC I needed to do some dry cleaning. I asked my friend if she knew of one nearby her apartment where I was staying. She said she didn’t know; she didn’t use dry cleaners; she’d take a look. Then she called me a few hours later. Turns out there’d been one across the street from her building for the last ten years and she’d never noticed it.

“My god—where I live, I notice when a letter is out on a sign,” I said.

“If you did that in New York city you’d go crazy.”

And I started thinking about noticing. What we weed out to keep our sanity. Out here, it’s probably something like road kill. If you noticed all the road kill, you’d spend your day in tears or mildly nauseous. Or what hangs on laundry lines. Because around here you can tell a lot about what’s going on in someone’s home by what they’ve hung out to dry. Or maybe the amount of Going Out of Business signs.

And I also started thinking about what we get used to too. What we accept into our daily lives as “normal,” as a form of survival. The ones that always hit me hard in the city are the people asking for money in the streets. Not emptying my pockets for them. Especially when you say “I’m sorry,” and they answer with a “God bless you.” How do you get used to that? Or worse, how do you weed that out? How do you live with a healthy inner filter and still practice compassion and empathy and not go insane, especially in the city where you are sharing so much with so many? How do you not get hardened? I’m asking, because I’m wondering. And I’m wondering if life out here in rural America has done something for me, or not, in the way of empathy. I think part of what has me believe I’ll never live in a city again has to do with the fear that I’ll lose my empathy. I’m sure that’s a silly thought. But it’s worth asking.

But even if I do move back to an urban or suburban setting…one thing is for certain: I’ll never get used to those weird manequins at Old Navy…


Filed under City Hits, Little Hymns to Montana, My Posts