Yesterday our group visited the Preili Doll Museum. The dolls in the museum are beautiful, but scarily life-like. This one reminded me of one daughter and my husband, and I just can’t escape the feeling that it was modeled on a person resembling them. As I walked through the museum, I felt that every doll was sharing a secret with me. Then we watched the video about the doll maker.
The artist said that the first thing she does after getting a ball of (plastic?) to work with is to put eyes in it that are looking at her. I saw her do this with one of her creations. Then she builds the face and the clothing and the “rest of the story” around the eyes and “what they tell her.” She has an idea to begin with, but sometimes the doll takes on an identity she could not have expected. She doesn’t, and in fact can’t, make duplicate dolls.
You can probably tell where I’m going with this. How many times have I had a story prepared, but when I’m actually letting the eyes in front of me direct my story, has the story, pacing, vocabulary, connection changed? When I was teaching an English class the other day, I caught sight of a set of eyes I had missed. For some reason, faces here are hard for me to read. I find comprehension when there is none. But this set of eyes was shy, scared, and unconnected. When I backed up the story and slowed down, the eyes opened wider, watching me in a completely different way. The story changed, and the person the eyes belonged to became part of the story.