I have been leaving anonymous notes around the 5C’s for some time now. They aren’t about anything in particular. Sometimes I pretend that I’m writing to someone I love whom I haven’t seen in years. Sometimes I just make lists of things, like jokes that make me laugh, or songs that resonate with me. I especially like to leave notes with lists of songs because I feel that if I try to show a song to someone, he or she automatically associates the song with me or feels obligated to like it. When someone stumbles upon a song written on a sheet of paper with no name, the discoverer can listen to it in private and develop an intimate relationship with it that can’t be replicated. I address all the notes “to you,” in the hope that whoever sees one won’t feel like an intruder in reading it. I leave them folded empty benches, sitting in the grass, and in open books sitting on temporarily unoccupied tables.
I never stay to see who picks a note up. I think that would ruin the fun of it. It’s become a positive way for me to occupy my thoughts when I’m feeling overwhelmed. When I find myself doubting human character, I’ll picture someone spotting the note, diverting all of his or her formerly busied thoughts to it in curiosity, looking around, and picking it up. Maybe the discoverer reads the note right then and there. Maybe he or she stows it away in a backpack and waits all day to read it until slumping down in a chair to open it at last. I always wonder if the finders of these notes think, well that was weird, or if they actually get some enjoyment out of the content. Either way, each person thinks about it. It changes the person’s day in some way. I think if I were to stay and see who picked up the note, or watch the discoverer’s face when reading it, I wouldn’t enjoy doing it as much as I do. The mystery of it all leaves me with the opportunity to imagine multiple outcomes. It’s almost like the whole world is finding the note because I can picture anyone finding it. I never even contemplated putting my name or any fake name on the notes because I feel like it would drain them of their magic. I hope that each note finder looks at people on the way to class or lunch and wonders if any of those passing strangers wrote it. Not knowing makes everyone seem a possibility. If anyone who finds one of my notes knew that I wrote it, they wouldn’t look around that way and wonder. I think the idea that a note makes whoever finds it search unfamiliar faces with a sort of bemused interest has a far greater impact than the content of the note does. Assuming that reading the anonymous note leaves a person a littler happier than before, all the people around the finder now have the potential in his or her eyes of having done this little personal act. As clever or valuable as I want the notes to be, the anonymity is what gives them power.