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‘Sup to Soup

A prompt to encourage your practice of creativity this week from Riversider and local author Larry Burns.

Photo by Calle Macarone / Unsplash

Do you need a low stress way to include seven minutes of creative contemplation into your week? Consider this your helpful nudge towards a slightly more creative life. If it helps, come back every week for a quick hit of creative contemplation. Each week I’ll share a new nudge. It will include a Thing (T), a Place (P), and a Sense(S) for your focus, a TPS creative nudge.

Last week, we unwrapped the layers of creativity offered by a single roll of toilet paper. Exploring its texture and the “role” it plays in our day, we spent time on a creative practice that revealed the extraordinary within the ordinary. 

Perhaps you sat down and composed a sonnet only using toilet paper marketing descriptions. Did you then type it out on some Charmin? A two ply creative try? Maybe you are the proud owner of some fresh new dangly earrings or even more daring ear gauges! Even if you just wrote “buy softer toilet paper” on a toilet seat cover and stuffed it into the office suggestion box, I hope a few minutes of creative expression found its way into your busy life.

This week, our creative focus shifts to another everyday item: a can of soup. This pantry staple offers comfort and nourishment when needed most. It was a favorite subject of Andy Warhol’s. It’s a quick work meal when you don’t have time to leave the office. It’s breakfast in many parts of the world. Just looking at a picture of soup can make you feel warmer on a cold day (unverified). 

This week's creative nudge takes the soup can out of the kitchen and into the artist’s studio. What’s it’s shifting weight feel like when you toss or shake it? As you hold a can of soup, compare it’s size and shape to other household objects. Your likely to find soup cans standing in for other household objects such as doorstops, paperweights, rolling pins, or exercise equipment

Here are four creative activities to try. A few could be done during your actual lunch break if you are the multi-tasking type.

  1. Soup Olympics: Turn your can of soup into a playful prop for a mini-game. Invent challenges or races involving the can, such as rolling it across a table or balancing it in unusual ways. Embrace the whimsy of the moment and let the can of soup be your creative companion.
  2. Gratitude Letter: Imagine that you're writing a heartfelt thank-you letter to a bowl of soup that comforted you on a challenging day. Express your gratitude for its warmth, nourishment, and the solace. This imaginative exercise not only infuses creativity but also invites reflection on the simple pleasures in life.
  3. Can Be Crafty: Wrap cans in yarn or glue decorative elements on them, then fill with pens, or small rocks, or a seedling. Give one as a gift with a hand written gift receipt from a defunct retailer.
  4. Just Eat It: The easiest creative exercise ever. Open and eat a can of soup. Let the aroma take you to another kitchen from your past. Explore its texture in your mouth and sense it’s warmth as it settles in your stomach. Every body loves soup.

As you embark on these creative exercises, remember that the can of soup is more than just a culinary staple; it's a canvas for your imagination. By engaging with the tactile, visual, and imaginative aspects of the can, we embark on a creative journey that highlights the beauty within reach.  It’s a shining symbol of industrial design and mass production. It’s place on our shelf is well deserved.

Note: portions of this prompt created using the tool ChatGPT.