Steinbeck Blog Prompt #3 by Jonathan Moscone

The third and last in our series of three prompts, designed to help inform our upcoming Steinbeck Project workshop. The Cal Shakes New Works/New Communities program would love for you to leave your input in the “comments” section below, via prose, poetry, links to video, imagery, or audio, and whatever else you can think of. Posting your comments on an individual prompt blog during its first week gets you entered in a drawing to win a prize*, and all comments are eligible for publication in Cal Shakes newsletters, on our website, and/or in the program for John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven during our 2010 season.**

This week’s prompt comes from Cal Shakes Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone, who will be directing the Main Stage production of Pastures.In Steinbeck’s book of short stories, The Pastures of Heaven, lives are eternally changed by the smallest action, the merest word, the slightest touch. Life is not melodramatic, he seems to be saying. There are no good guys and bad guys; any of us can say something or do something that seems small and insignificant, and yet has the most epic, seismic effect on the life of someone else. Has this happened to you? What are those little moments that have had the biggest effect on your life? Or can you think of a small thing that you have done or said that inadvertently affected another person’s life in a surprisingly large way?

Photo of Jonathan Moscone by Jay Yamada.

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0 Responses to Steinbeck Blog Prompt #3 by Jonathan Moscone

  1. Adele says:

    >I am recalling several moments in my life. The first is one where I know I made an impact with a small gesture. Some time in the first weeks of first grade, a new girl was introduced to the class. Her name was Allison. I remember her sitting down next to me and being quite shy. Our teacher asked her if she could share a summer memory with the class. This young girl had down syndrome. She couldn't speak without stuttering and became very upset. I put my hand on her shoulder to give some support as she struggled with her sentence, and she stopped stuttering. I didn't think much of the gesture at all. She and the teacher looked at me, while she answered the question clearly in a second attempt. She was placed in every class I had after that. Another memory I have is while shopping at the grocery store. I was having an awful day. Holding what felt like the weight of the world on my shoulders, I collected my things and waited in line to check out. I noticed the interactions between people going through the check out line and the store clerk. 'How are you's' to the customers, and their cookie cut responses, 'Fine, How are you's' right back. Collecting myself, I approached, with my 'fine' on the tip of my tongue, only the manner in which this clerk asked me, I looked up- he was genuinely asking, 'How are you'- it was the people who weren't really responding- just going through the motions if you will… I looked at the clerk, and 'fine' disappeared. I tried to make face- save the emotion for the parking lot. I answered saying that I had had better days. I shot my face downwards, opened my wallet to get some money together and when I looked up to pay, the clerk was gone. I looked around and there he was coming back to the register with a bouquet of flowers. He said, 'Here, I hope you have a better day'. Well, then the tears really came- Ha. He made my day, my week, when the flowers started to wilt, I dried them- to remember that it's the little 'how are you's' and the genuine responses- to listen, to be kind, and have an open heart.

  2. Anonymous says:

    >Four years ago my boyfriend asked me to let him know the person behind the mask that I, like every human being, hold up to the world. He's gone on and away from me now, but my personal journey to discover and really KNOW that person inside continues. It's been a difficult and exacting journey. After four long years of work, I am only just now starting to feel that it might have been worth it. The only thing I can say for certain is that I still haven't given up, and never will.

  3. Anonymous says:

    >I was in a bar once when a woman came up to me and said "You seem like a nice person, what are you doing in THIS place" Sad to say, it was the nicest thing I had heard in a long time. I woke up in that moment. My life changed dramatically followng that exchange.

  4. Anonymous says:

    >A couple of years ago my daughter twisted her knee. The person who treated her became one of my friends. One of their friends got me into a temp job that led to my current employment. Anywhere along the way that chain could have broken – and didn't. There are a million little moments every day that we don't recognize that become the next steps in our lives.

  5. Travis says:

    >I was 18 and had just moved across the country because I thought I was in love. I got a job, but my boss at the time, despite his obvious interest in not losing a recently trained employee, finally asked me what the hell I was doing. He could tell I wasn't happy. He told me to go home and asked me to "imagine my life the way I wanted it to be". Awkward phrasing, perhaps, but the words touched me. I left a few days later and came back home. He was an artist, and he gave me a professionally framed painting of his, a watercolor of the "Imagine" mosaic at Strawberry Fields in New York City. I have had it on my wall ever since.

  6. >Congratulations, Adele. Your insightful comment won you this week's prize! Drop a line to with your mailing address to receive your $20 Peet's Coffee & Tea gift card.

  7. Anonymous says:

    >I remember the first time I realized that I was tall, too tall. I was in 7th grade and I was wearing my new platform shoes when Jeff Luigi, the shortest guy in 7th grade, walked up to me and said, "Geez, why are you wearing those shoes, you're already too dang tall!" At that moment, my self-esteem dropped down to a new low, my shoulders sank forward and when I got home, my new shoes were thrown into the back of my closet. I spent the next 6 years fighting my twisted self-image, fighting to stand up straight…6 foot 4 above all the rest of the kids around me. I did not conquer my height until I was an adult…and if I ever run into Jeff Luigi, I'll just step on him!!

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