Friday, November 12, 2010

Rainn Wilson and SoulPancake

Last night Eric and I went to a very cool author event at the Barnes and Noble at Lincoln Square. The featured author was Rainn Wilson, a/k/a "Dwight" from The Office. Eric and I were late jumping on The Office bandwagon, but recently through the magic of Netflix have nearly caught up on the entire series and are hooked. How did we resist this show for so long?

We always try to keep an eye out for interesting authors/celebs coming to bookstores in Manhattan, and when we heard Rainn Wilson would be promoting his new book SoulPancake (the book version of his website), we thought that sounded like an interesting one to see. The event certainly did not disappoint.

They were handing out wristbands for the 7:30 p.m. event at 5:00 yesterday, so Eric and I met then to buy the book and get our wristbands. We planned to leave then to run errands and get some dinner, but ended up sticking around because we had a great spot in line to get a good seat for the event. So, we spent a couple hours hanging out on the floor of Barnes & Noble, reading through SoulPancake.

Let me tell you, I love this book. It's not a novel or anything like that, but rather sort of a hodgepodge of quotes, art, questions, and activities that inspire you to think about life, philosophy, religion, spirituality, science, love, etc. It is divided into nine chapters: The Brain & the Soul; Art & Creativity; Experiences & Emotions; Love, Sex & Relationships; Virtues & Vices; Introspection, Reflection & Identity; God & Religion; Science & Technology; and Life, Death & Living. Each chapter contains interesting challenges and activities to get your creativity flowing (example: in the Brain & Soul chapter, you are challenged to sum up your philosophy on life and scribble it on the sidewalk with chalk); thought-provoking questions about life, what you know, what you don't, and who you are; inspiring quotes and artwork from over 90 different artists from all over the world.

Sample page from the book, asking questions about love

Another sample page, with an activity: sketch your self portrait!

To give you a better idea of what this book is about than my poor explanation is probably doing, let me share some of my favorite questions I've found in the book so far:
List 5 questions you hate not having the answers to.
What is one thing you learned that blew your mind?
What would you try if you knew you couldn't fail?
What would you say if you had 60 seconds to talk a stranger out of taking his or her life?
What single experience in life most transformed you?
List 5 non-physical traits that turn you on.
Does your family see the real you?
How are you selfish?
List 5 things you would literally chop off your little toe for.
Would you want to know the exact moment you are going to die?
If you only had one hour left to live, how would you spend it?
And a few of my favorite quotes I found in the book:
"Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it."
- Michelangelo
"A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
"It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable."
- Moliere
"Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled."
- Barack Obama 
"Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new."
- Brian Tracy
And I have only found these quotations and questions in a quick flip through the book as we waited to be seated in the event space - I can't wait to dig a little deeper and see what else is in there!

In addition to the book being so interesting, the event itself was great. We were seated in the event space around 7:00, and had a great spot. We waited for a bit while the store employees laid down the law (no flash photography, no pictures at the signing table, etc.) and then Rainn finally came out, posing for a "photo op" or two with his book first thing!

Waiting to see Rainn

Rainn posing with his book

Rainn read a bit from his introduction to the book, and talked a lot about how it all came to be and his philosophy in life. He spoke quite a bit about finding creativity, art and beauty in the everyday - for example, art does not just exist in museums, but even in what we do with our lives on a day-to-day basis. An accountant, mathematician, or scientist may express themselves through their work just as much as a painter, sculptor or musician, just in a different way. He talked about the importance of asking life's big questions and the fact that these questions are something we all have in common, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs or political affiliation. We all want the same basic things out of life, we just have different approaches. It was a very interesting talk.

Rainn at the podium

Discussing SoulPancake

Showing off some of the artwork in the book

He took a couple breaks during his talk for music performed by co-author of SoulPancake Devon Gundry and Devon's former roommate Andy Grammer. (For the last song, Rainn accompanied them on the tambourine.)

Devon and Andy

If you're interested, you can listen to Andy's first single here. I really like it!

Rainn also took quite a bit of time to answer questions from the audience. He got a lot of great questions about SoulPancake, music and philosophy, and of course also got some questions about The Office. My favorite Office question was the one that requested he make a "Jim-looking-at-the-camera" face. Not sure what that means? Check out the compilation of "Jim faces" below (thanks, YouTube!) followed by Rainn's interpretations, both on the show and last night:

VIDEO: 70 Jim Halpert Faces in 70 Seconds (I love Jim. Isn't he adorable?)

Video: Dwight impersonating Jim on an episode of The Office

"Dwight" making a Jim face last night at the signing

After the Q&A and a final song, Rainn took his seat at the signing table to autograph our books. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed at the signing table, so we couldn't get a picture with him, but he did sign our book and we told him how much we enjoy both the show and the book.

Our autographed book

All in all, it was a very fun night! Be sure to check out SoulPancake!


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Mrs Gator said...

Soo cool! So I just spent the last 20 minutes looking at your celebrity sightings. I love it!!! My friends have been living in lower Manhattan for the past few years and I always ask them if they have seen any celebrities and they say no. I totally think they are being all chill and lying about seeing celebrities (so I don't freak out on them). BC, seriously, I was in NYC for like a week and saw a celebrity and I was just visiting!

Loveeee your blog!

Mrs. W. said...

Thanks, Mrs Gator! :)

Celebs are easy to miss in NYC when they're just walking past, because nobody is paying attention to anyone else. I'm sure your friends have seen some and just don't even realize it! And if you know where to look for them, they're easy to spot!