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The Dishes Are Not Really About The Dishes

March 30, 2014

Sharing an important story can be a powerful experience for the teller, but witnessing someone, really listening to what they are saying, is a compelling experience for the listener as well. In collecting love stories for 37 Vibrations, I’ve done a lot of witnessing. The experience of listening to a person’s experience and then re-telling it in my own words creates a bond between us. I care about the story and I want to allow it to inspire others as it has inspired me. So, when a bottle goes missing, I try to track it down and get it back on the road. Bottle 9 was one of those bottles.

When Bottle 9 launched, it was taken on a wild and fantastic journey around South America with its first traveling buddy. Then bottle was passed on to someone in Sweden and shortly after that, it went off the radar. After several months with no news I did some investigating and tracked down the last known recipient. Thinking that I might inspire him to post about the bottle and then pass it on, I sent him the 37 Vibrations video “So You Found A Bottle!”

This was our subsequent e-mail exchange (names removed):

October 7, 2013 4:44 pm


Thought this might inspire you: https://vimeo.com/66900514

best in love,


37 Vibrations


October 10, 2013 4:46 pm

 The thing is, I never found a bottle as your like says.


October 10, 2013 4:50 pm

 Hmmm, I heard that your daughter passed bottle 9 to you. Is that not so?


October 10, 2013 11:41 pm

 Yes. But it is a big difference from finding a bottle and beeing passed a bottle and then get messages that I have to do it. Don’t you think? The headline in the website is: So you found a bottle?


October 11, 2013 3:03 pm

 I think I finally understand the problem. Sounds like you don’t want to be a part of this, which is totally fine. I thought you were into this idea of passing the love letters around and that’s why you took the bottle from [your daughter]. But if that is not the case, is it possible for you to give the bottle back to [her] and then she can find someone who does want to pass the bottle on. How does that sound?

Let me know if there is any way I can help.

Thanks so much for getting back to me. Sorry for the confusion.

xx Linda


October 12, 2013 1:38 am

 I just don’t like the way you present it as found bottles. And sometimes things doesn’t turn out as you think.

 Maybe you should rename the project to. Did someone pass you a bottle.


October 12, 2013 10:46 am

 “finding a bottle” is more of a metaphor. I like the idea that instead of putting a message in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean, we are like a human wave passing the bottle to each other. So it is “found” in that way, as you might find a bottle washed up on a beach. And here, you have interaction with the person you get the story from and the person you pass it to. It is a way of spreading love through story and connecting with people. Just as I have been able to connect with you, someone I might never have had a conversation with if not for Bottle 9. Does that make more sense?


He never replied to my last e-mail and as far as I know, he hasn’t shared the bottle with anyone else. The interesting thing about this story and the subsequent e-mail exchange is that it mirrors the love story contained inside Bottle 9.

Lilies is a love story about understanding the real problem behind an argument.  To love someone is to go beyond the issue at hand and try to understand why the other person is feeling this feeling. As described in the story, “the dishes are not really about the dishes.” Instead, they are a trigger that brings something deeper to the surface. In this case, holding on to the bottle wasn’t about simply refusing to pass on the love story. There is a story behind the story.  Something about the obligation of having to pass on the bottle brought something up to the surface. The recipient dug in his heels and refused to play along. For some reason he took the bottle, but then he wouldn’t give it back so that it could be passed on to someone else and he wouldn’t pass it along. Because of the distance between us, the language barrier, and his waning interest in explaining himself to a stranger across the world, I wasn’t able to understand the story behind the story, the trigger behind the argument. I did give it the old college try though.

What is this experience about for me? How are the dishes are not really about the dishes? I have a deep need to solve things. Harnessing chaos, solving puzzles, righting wrongs. It’s what I love so much about the story inside Bottle 9 and why it really speaks to me.  I like to know. I always dig deeper and try to find the meaning behind things. But you can’t always know. Things don’t always make sense. Chaos can’t always be harnessed. And sometimes when you try to reign it in, the chaos just grows. That’s a lesson I need to sit with. I’m learning to let go.

To my correspondent I say thank you for bringing this lesson to my doorstep. As he said, “sometimes things don’t turn out as you think.” The same could be said for love.

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