My 6-year-old granddaughter’s second original composition.

Oct 27, 2021–Here’s an idea: For one day, don’t be predictable.

Say something different. Better stated: say the same things in a different way.

Let’s start with the universal greeting: “How are you?”

The next time you are asked that, say anything but “I am fine.”

Give it 2.5 seconds of thought and come up with something original:

“Last time I checked all systems were go,” for example. My uncle used to reply, “Tolerable,” so I picked that up for awhile. My current favorite? “None of your business.”

I don’t mean to be mean. Just unexpected.

Say something no one has ever said before. You might be surprised at the response. If the person you are interacting with is playful, they will accept your challenge and reply in kind, taking the conversation into uncharted territories.

Better yet, don’t start your next conversation with “How are you?” Spit out something more substantial:

-What have you learned today that would interest me?

-How is your magnum opus coming along?

-You’re fine, how am I?

-Explain that yellowish substance oozing out of your left ear.

Social media offers limitless opportunities to not say the same old same old (such as saying “same old same old”), which we do not take advantage of.

When someone announces an achievement, the timeline is filled with dozens of “Congratulations!”

STOP WRITING THAT! Ask them what their next step is, what the biggest obstacle was, what advice would you give for someone pursuing the same course. Say something that leads to something. You can do it. Don’t make me do all the work for you.

Same with birthday announcements. I cringe every time I hear “Have a good one.” Use the creative brain the good Lord gave you. Heaven knows you’re not doing anything else with it.

I don’t know why this is so difficult. It’s like people are afraid to say anything new that might offend someone. Go ahead–offend me.

There are low-effort ways to make every day different. When I was in junior high I remember Tiny Tim telling Johnny Carson he was changing himself into a left-hander, just because. So I spent a week doing everything left handed, just because. Brushing my teeth, holding utensils, buttoning my shirt, opening doors, even writing. It was a Zen-like experiment, and I became quite ambidextrous in a short time. I still think it improved my drumming technique.

Whenever I worked at the same job location for any length of time, I began taking different routes each week. The change in scenery and direction was a small way of thumbing my nose at routine, and I think it helped me romance my job.

When I taught gifted kids, my favorite warmup activity was playing “what if?” When they walked into my classroom, I would have a “What If” on the board. What if there was no gravity? What if you didn’t get grades? What if the clocks ran backwards? Even by 6th grade, we become entrenched in assumptions about the world. At first they were reticent. But after a few weeks they became more comfortable in imagining a world they couldn’t imagine.

I’m applying this strategy to my own grands. Even my 6-year-old granddaughter can do it. She’s been learning piano for only six months and the other day sat down and composed a song. On her way to our house this weekend she wrote and illustrated a 3-page story. She just composed another song while I was going to the bathroom.

Elementary attempts, yes. But she is creating! That is more songs and stories than I’ve written in her entire lifetime.

So here’s my advice. Stop reading my garbage and go create your own.