Composer Nadine Dyskant-Miller says about her piece, if we listened to birds sometimes:
if we listened to birds sometimes is about a world that is real, a world that is no longer real, a world
that has never been real, and a world that will never be real. What if we imagine a world where some
things are worse? What if we imagine a world where some things are better? What if we treat things
that are real as though they are merely things we have conjured out of our imaginations?
In the winter of 2012, I began writing a list. It was a list of questions, and my only goal for this list
was to write down any questions I thought of while holding the pen. The questions could be about
anything: they could be questions that could not be answered, they could be questions I never
intended to ask aloud, they could be questions to which I already knew the answers. Much later, I
found this list and began adding to it, soon becoming fascinated with the possibilities provided by
the prefix “what if” and the fantastical world so many of these questions could create.
Share your responses to her questions below, or add on your own "what if's" on Instagram by tagging @tactus.msm or using #TactusTetris
What if the moon was triangular?
What if people had to get rained on to survive?
What if there were two of everyone?
What if the ocean was made out of all the jellybeans people didn't like?
What if people were only the ideas they had about each other?
What if tables had personalities and had people they liked and people they didn't like?
What if two dogs could become one dog if they wanted?
What if there was an archive of all the love letters that were ever burned?
What if glass and bronze could become the other when they were soaked in hot chocolate?
What if basements didn't exist, but were illusions that were actually attics?
What if dreams were things that happened to people born on the same day as us?
What if twigs could spontaneously float around trees?
What if coffee was actually made out of the shadows of trees?
What if the shadows of trees could be turned into wings?
What if coffee and wings were the same thing?
What if our hair changed color depending on our mood?
What if people grew flowers in their ears?
What if flowers grew on every rooftop?
What if everyone was allergic to flowers?
What if we didn't have wheels?
What if people had three legs?
What if rain came from our pockets?
What if our pockets could hold all the light we ever needed?
What if there were official breaks in everyone's work so they could watch the sunset?
What if really good tea was served in doctor's offices?
What if everybody painted every day?
What if everyone had the same favorite color?
What if squirrels were readily available mediators for arguments?
What if fireflies provided all the light we ever needed?
What if nobody had to drive anywhere?
What if people were always restless?
What if dandelion fluff was a cure for writer's block?
What if parking meters came alive and went to get tea between 3:00 and 6:00am?
What if sand boxes were recognized as the best places for artistic growth?
What if cereal didn't exist?
What if people held hands all the time?
What if there was a country the size of France dedicated to growing sunflowers, or to raising goats?
What if sunflowers were as widespread as dandelions?
What if our flag had a sunflower on it?
What if we could get nutrition from the sun?
What if people always smiled when they passed each other on the street?
What if music could only be heard live?
What if there was a universe dedicated entirely to birds?
What if mice became full-sized the day after they were born?
What if people became full-sized the day after they were born?
What if we used rice as shampoo?
What if our standards of beauty were redefined to see people over the age of 80 as the most attractive?
What if everything that tasted good smelled terrible?
What if aloe vera was a cure for hiccups
What if keyboards were made so we typed with our toes?
As fast as possible while still intelligible, loud.
What if the sun rose in the East?
What if people knew how to sleep?
What if we could get stronger if we wanted?
What if there were planets and stars?
What if people were real?
What if the rain kept the plants alive?
What if we listened to birds sometimes?
What if people taught each other things?
What if people ate dinner together?
What if people could communicate with each other?
What if dirt was the most valuable thing in the world?
What if people went swimming sometimes?
What if the sky turned colors at sunset?
What if nobody liked anyone else?
What if as soon as we loved anyone we couldn't find them?
What if the first time we met we were afraid of each other?
What if we never liked foods that were good for us?
What if everyone burned the love letters they received?
What if nobody held hands?
What if none of us were healthy?
What if none of us were sweet?
What if you only remembered bad things?
What if none of us liked music?
What if none of us liked flowers?
What if none of us liked baby animals?
What if the world was consumed by greed?
What if the sky began to fall?
What if you never trusted anyone else?
What if you were afraid to talk to anyone?
What if we couldn't be friends?
What if the whole world fell out of love?
What if people hated people?
What if the whole world was lost behind computer screens?
What if nobody wanted to be outside?
What if nobody was genuine?
What if we never missed anyone else?
What if you forgot how to write?
What if you forgot how to speak?
What if you forgot how to laugh?
What if there wasn't a word for sound?
What if there wasn't a word for dark?
What if there wasn't a word for intuition?
What if there wasn't a word for silence?
What if there wasn't a word for you?