George Saunders: How do you energize someone?
Sometimes it will be a word.
George Saunders, on the odd little Zen parables he heard growing up. Told for laughs, they also carried deeper hints about how to live and what is important in life:
My whole childhood we lived next door to this family I’ll call the Smiths. We didn’t know them very well at all. At one point, Mrs. Smith’s mother, who was in her nineties, passed away. My dad went to the wake, where this exchange occurred:
Dad: “So sorry for your loss.”
Mrs. Smith: Yes, it’s very hard.”
Dad: “Well, on the bright side, I suppose you must be grateful that she had such a long and healthy life.”
Mrs. Smith (mournful, dead-serious): “Yeah. This is the sickest she’s ever been.”
My dad came home just energized from this. I loved his reaction.
–Mike Sacks, Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers (NY: Penguin Books, 2014), 241.
Image credit: Kirk Livingston