Several days ago, I wanted a snack. I grabbed a bag of M & Ms my daughter and I had purchased earlier that day. I sat at the computer to browse, and poured some candy out of the bag, on to the desk — carefully, so they wouldn’t roll off on to the floor where the dog was anxiously waiting (chocolate is bad). The most amazing thing happened! I looked closely, noticing the color arrangement and the way the chocolate pieces followed each other out of the wrapping. Weird! Amazing! Beautiful! Really…I couldn’t believe it. I took out my phone and snapped a picture to prove to myself that it happened.
Today my daughter and I went out again. This time we actually needed a hair dryer, but you know…late night snack cravings…so I got another bag of M & Ms. I wanted to recreate that moment of discovery and watch again for the candy to spill perfectly out on the desk. Of course, that didn’t happen. But I did notice something just as beautiful, amazing, and weird. The second that I saw it, I thought, “Outliers!” M & M candy outliers were just as cool and colorful as the straight-line ones from last week.
Then I thought, “What a way to smack me in the face with a writing idea!” It’s true, once you start looking closely and notice your surroundings, the more creative you can be. See, those M & Ms — arranged differently on different days — made me think of students at school.
There are the perfect students: “Line up!” and they just seem to do what they need to do. Easy, straightforward, conforming. Opposite of those children are the outliers: “Line up!” and they wander around the back of the room, looking for supplies, talking, and needing that extra push to comply with the simple request. Difficult, wavering, non-conforming. But they are one in the same! Same students, same class. Some days are easy, others are not. But life is never boring with these little lovelies.
Funny how M & Ms can make you a writer.