My writing had gotten stale. I needed a creative boost. I’d taken workshops over the years, but I always had the nagging feeling that they lacked something. What could it be? A celebrity instructor? Genius students? A tropical location? No. As it turned out, the thing that was missing from my classes was baby Nigerian dwarf goats.
If browsing through my Facebook feed has taught me anything over the past year, it’s that goat encounters are all the rage. I learned I could sign up for writing, drawing and painting workshops, and even yoga classes — all featuring goats enhancing the experience.
The workshop I chose was titled, “Write, Create & Laugh With Baby Goats: A Workshop for Creativity, Joy & Well Being.” Instructor Terrie Silverman of Creative Rites first had encountered the goats at a goat yoga workshop and immediately thought their benefits could be applied to writing. She proceeded to put together a program, in conjunction with Michelle Tritten of Hello Critter, owner and caretaker of the goats.
Her pitch to attendees was, “You’ll commune with the baby goats while being led through fun writing, drawing and mindfulness exercises, to release the critic, create from a place of joy and acceptance, and tap into the wisdom, whimsy and Zen of the baby goats.” That sounded way more enjoyable than my college seminar, “Style and Tone in Faulkner and Hemingway.”
When I arrived at the arts studio on Larchmont Boulevard, Silverman welcomed us and introduced us to the two goats, Billy and Burlap. My attention was absorbed by these gentle, short-attention-span creatures. Silverman had us take out our notebooks and pens as she posed a number of thought-provoking questions. While watching and petting these adorable goats, I wrote and shared with the others what I noticed about the goats and myself, what I thought the world looked like to them, what the goats could teach us, and how they affected me.
My brief experience with the goats inspired me to savor the moment, be in touch with my instincts, not get bogged down with words, remember to play and not take myself so seriously.
My fellow goat writers and I agreed that after even just a short time with these wonderful creatures, they helped us to not care as much what people think and develop more of a single-minded focus.
But perhaps we were still too much in our heads, thinking instead of feeling. And so, drawing paper and crayons were distributed. Our assignment was to let go of our inner critic and create a picture of how the goats made us feel. I hadn’t colored with crayons since kindergarten. It felt therapeutic.
I left the workshop feeling far less creatively stale. My brief experience with the goats inspired me to savor the moment, be in touch with my instincts, not get bogged down with words, remember to play and not take myself so seriously.
Could this goat thing be more than a wacky California trend? Maybe if we hung around animals more often, there’d be less need for medication and therapy, and less bad behavior. Or at least less stale writing. So, don’t be surprised if you run into me shopping for my emotional support goat.
Mark Miller is a humorist and stand-up comic who has written for sitcoms. His first book is “500 Dates: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Online Dating Wars.”