Out of a musician, a poet, a world traveler and a minimalist comes wordtasting. What is that you ask? Nothing short of magic. This small troupe of innovative thinkers has been touring the country together to promote their books recently published with Asymmetrical Press and to share their messages through words: spoken, shouted and sung. It just so happens that they came to town in Provo, Ut at Pioneer Bookstore and I was privileged to attend.
The evening started with Skye Steele, a Brooklyn musician. His music encompass a perfect smorgasbord of sounds, from a lovely celestialness and other worldly surrealism mixed with home comfort folk and maybe even some 8 bit nostalgia. He said he was inspired by dreams and many of his lyrics talk about community and personal experience.
“This song is about how we’re all tied together, so we’re gonna do that” Steele said, as he grabbed a string of bells and draped it across the first row of the audience. They chimed the bells as he continued to play and brought a deeper sense of unity, which was a feeling that was present from the start of the event.
During the Q&A sessions Steele shared some personal advice, “If I could talk to my younger self, I would say, ‘Quit worrying, you’re going to be confused for a long time, so get used to it'”.
While Steele’s melody held the audience in a trance, a voice burst out, “Talk Louder!” and then again, “Talk Louder!” as poet Josh Wagner stood and began reciting a poem of death, doom and hope.
“You have to talk louder
Stop pretending you aren’t going to die
You are going to die tomorrow
You are going to die in a hundred years
You are going to live forever!”
Wagner recited his poem with vigor and captivated the audience with his words that articulated universally personal experiences. The heroine of his latest book, Shapes the Sunlight Takes is a 15 year old lesbian girl, “that being said, it is also somewhat biographical”. He spoke of the feelings of the inward battles we face, with stories of longing in the form of a young lesbian in love with an older girl at school who may or may not be prophesied to bear the child of another man to stories of realizing that you may not want what you always thought you wanted until it suddenly becomes yours.
One of the final lines he shared was truly poetic,
“Don’t stop falling just because you hit the ground”.
(photo by @neplusultra23)
Colin Wright travels for a living. His blog, Exile Lifestyle, documents his journeys and changed perceptions as he explores other worlds and other cultures.
“I always learn the basics, ‘yes, no, please, thank you, please don’t kill me, etc.”.
Wright shared a particularly touching lesson he learned in Iceland. He said that there are some concepts that are only articulated in some languages, such as the German word schadenfreude, which means to find pleasure in someone else’s suffering. But in this case, he focused on the word lifspeki which means to show who you are to yourself and to the world through your actions. That concept is pretty much summed up in the title of one of his books, “You Have Exactly One Life in Which to Do Everything You’ll Ever Do. Act Accordingly”.
(photo by @joshuafieldsmillburn)
Josh Millburn was one of the representatives of ‘The Minimalists’, a duo that has set out to practice and subtly preach minimalism. “I was living the American dream, but it wasn’t my dream”, Josh says as he tells his story of consumerism to minimalism.
It’s difficult to decipher which of Millburn’s words are most relevant, inspiring or life changing, as every phrase and sentence was filled with wisdom and experience to back it up.
My personal favorites:
“Our memories aren’t in our things, they’re inside us“.
“As I started letting go I began to ask myself, ‘Does this thing add value to my life?'”
“Love people and use things because the opposite never works”.
During the Q&A many audience members expressed concerns about applying minimalism to their lifestyle’s. Millburn responded that there are all sorts of recipes and flavors of minimalism and there’s no one size fits all answer. Which, may be one of the hardest parts of wrapping our heads around a truly minimalist lifestyle, there’s no one right answer. My take away is that we can all apply the principles of awareness and intention in our consuming and possession acquiring in whatever form we choose to do so.
Whatever you do, beware of the words, ‘I’ll keep this just in case’. “Just in case”, Millburn said, “are the three most dangerous words in the english language”.
(photo by @joshuafieldsmillburn)
The members of the Wordtasting tour will soon be finishing up with only a few more stops to go. You can still catch them in Salt Lake on Monday 6/23 or in Idaho or Washington or you can follow them on a slew of social media to catch some of their delectable rhetoric:
WordTasting Tour: http://asymmetrical.co/wordtasting/
Skye Steele: SkyeSteele.com or @skyesteelemusic
Josh Wagner: JoshWagner.org or @fictionclemens
Colin Wright: exilelifestyle.com or @colinismyname
Josh Millburn: theminimalists.com or @theminimalists
Asymmetrical Press: asymmetrical.co