Picture this: A busy city street. Could be anywhere. New York City, Amsterdam, San Francisco. Stockholm. A guy says “Hi, how are you? Want to chat?” to passersby. He is out of place, a stone interrupting the efficient stream of people scurrying to places beyond. Beside him, in sharp contrast to the urban plain-scape all around is a striking blue couch. It is low and modern, not big and stuffy like the one your grandparents had in the living room when you were eight. This one is made to fit in a loft in SoHo or East London. Or on a busy city sidewalk. On a small square metal table in front of the couch sits a brightly colored box of Kleenex.
It is in fact a commercial. This series of commercials Kleenex ran in 2009 and continues to have fans: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRZri7jrX6g
Our guy in the commercial is eventually able not only to get some people to actually stop, sit down on his couch and chat, he gets total strangers to pour their hearts out to him. They laugh and they cry and he reaches over and hands them a tissue and it is impossible not to be touched by the message wrapped up nicely in a 61-second present.
Maybe I have a thing for blue–even though for years my favorite color has been orange–or maybe it is how out of place the couch and the guy appear against the backdrop of a busy city street, a visual non-sequitor causing havoc for pedestrians and my brain at the same time. There was for me an emotional connection forged between the electric azure of the couch and the feeling conveyed in the commercial. I know it is a deliberate prop, designed to infect our memory and permanently brand Kleenex into our brains.
But the blue couch is so much more than a piece of furniture consciously placed into a commercial to make me want to buy tissues. For me it is a symbol of what I see as the true (perhaps unintended) message of the ad.
It is about creating relationships, albeit in an obtuse and possibly offensive way, with people one might not otherwise get to know. We do this. We confide in the people who cut our hair and the bartender at the martini lounge and even the barista who hands us our coffees at the cafe. We want to tell people about ourselves. Why not do it on a busy city street on a comfortable blue couch with hundreds of strangers walking by?
The blue couch is a metaphor for the relationships I create in my life. And it’s an invitation to sit down, chat and learn about others. I started this blog and named it deliberately as a vehicle to explore all the types of relationships I have: with my children, with my fiancé, with friends, co-workers, prospective employers, people from my past, absolute fucking strangers. And I believe that relationships with the world outside of ourselves (and, as it happens, inside) contribute to our satisfaction or our dismay with our lives.
For example, we also have relationships with ourselves. There’s the conversation that goes on inside my head (all the time) and then there is this body I inhabit, which a couple times in the past year has seriously let me down. My friend Mike says I should be really pissed at my body. “So c’mon my body. Are you listening? Straighten up or I’m dumping you for a new model.”
This space is an invitation for anyone who wants to take the time to read my offerings to think about their own relationships. Through examining my relationships I hope I can give others some insights into how they are intertwined with others and maybe whether and how to disentangle from unworthy relationships. There will be no shortage of topics about which to right. I hope I can keep up.
So grab a cup of coffee–and maybe some Kleenex–and have a seat. Let’s explore together.
Thanks for reading.