The Stupid 365 Project, Day 63: Raising the Tone

December 2nd, 2010

Kelly Corrigan is a contributor to Oprah Magazine, but I don’t hold that against her.

Some time back, realizing how little she remembered of her own childhood, she began to write long time capsules in prose for her elementary-school daughters about their lives together.  These pieces gave rise to a book called LIFT, which my wife loved.

I didn’t read more than about twenty pages, but it made me realize how often we (I) walk through especially blessed periods of our lives without even pausing to take it in, much less remember it later.  People take pictures or video at celebratory moments, but they’re essentially external documents, good for triggering memories that have probably faded.  It seems to me that it would be a good idea from time to time, when it feels as though the world is being especially nice to us, to sit down and write about it.

As I’ve said here, one of my favorite movies is Hirokazu Kore-Ida’s AFTERLIFE, in which a group of recently-dead people are put through a week of trying to identify the moment from their lives in which they’ll spend eternity.  All of them have trouble identifying moments of transcendence — one poor guy spends days surrounded with stacks of videocassettes, fast-forwarding through his life in search for anything he could mistake for happiness.

So here’s what I’m going to do.  I’m going to try to hold on to the best things, not by clinging to them because there’s really nothing you can cling to, but by writing them down.  Tomorrow, I’m buying a blank book, and whenever I feel especially blessed, I’m going to get it onto the page.

Among other things, this should make me more aware of just how much gratitude I owe.  And it’ll force me to acknowledge that I’m loved and that it pretty much means everything.

I have to figure out what to call the book.  Any suggestions?

And how come it’s always women who come up with this kind of stuff?  What are men, emotional amputees?

Maybe we need an emotional Viagra.  The other one addresses the wrong chakra.

And as sensitive and New Age as I sound right now, the very thought of Oprah gives me motion sickness, which is why that “no” is up there in the middle of her Omnipresent initial.

12 Responses to “The Stupid 365 Project, Day 63: Raising the Tone”

  1. Laren Bright Says:

    Tim’s Times?

  2. EverettK Says:

    A title for your book? How about a tip of the hat to William Goldman and The Princess Bride? The Good Parts.

    And an excellent idea, by the way.

    It seems to me that, through the admitted ups and downs of this daily slog…er…blog, that you will very likely end up getting far more out of the exercise than you had originally hoped. Perhaps not in the original WAY that you hoped, although that, too. But in many unexpected ways as well.

  3. Bonnie Says:

    I read this post during a short bout of insomnia last night. This morning, after catching up on newsgroups, comics, email, etc. I returned to my current mystery, Forbidden Fruit by Kerry Greenwood. Almost the first thing I found on the page where I’d left off was:

    It was a lovely dinner. It was important, Meroe [Wiccan neighbor] said, to enjoy good things when they happen, because otherwise you might miss them, and the Goddess would be displeased.

  4. Suzanna Says:

    Hi, Tim

    Having a gratitude journal sounds wonderful.

    After my emotional dive into the political wasteland yesterday I could use some gratitude reflection myself.

    Words you chose in your post, THE BEST THINGS, may make a possible title. I’m sure you’ll find just the right one.

    Men and women are wired a little differently sometimes but you, my friend, are no emotional amputee. A softy if ever there was one.

  5. Robb Royer Says:

    I’ll get around to the point in a minute, but this all reminds me of a classic Tim moment from college… after a dud joke you stared off into space and said ‘ah… humor… I understand it when I hear it but the essence of it escapes me’. Of course it’s an ironic comment since it was funny enough for me to remember for half a century (yup it’s been that long) BUT! it’s kind of like how I feel about happiness, bliss, gratitude et al. I can count my blessings (usually upon the recommendation of those wiser than I) they’re just so damn hard to EMBRACE…

  6. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    I agree with Susanna, and I don’t even “know” you, but you are no emotional amputee. Your feelings come through everything you write; it’s just, IMHO that guys are not trained to “talk” about it. I love your idea of a bliss book; Robb, it may just be my mood, but your post brought tears to my eyes, sometimes it is hard to remember our blessings. Darn, Tim, you always manage to engage me.

  7. Sylvia Says:

    I would just call it Moments.

  8. Bonnie Says:

    I think you should call it “dead wet girls”; that way no one could tell what tender thoughts and feelings were inside.

  9. Susan Says:

    How about “My Best Self”? I used to keep a gratitude journal, but then got out of the habit. I’m going to start one again. Thank you, Tim.

  10. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, everybody — SORRY not to have responded earlier — this is an all-out writing day. I’ve done 2100 words on PULPED, and am very happy with the way the story seems to be going. Also, I’m in love with Madison. Simeon’s going to have to fight me for her.

    Laren, good title. Munyin is going to buy me the book tomorrow — she has something specific in mind. I’m in a pretty good period right now from about 30 perspectives, so I’ll have something to write immediately. As you know, Laren the blessings already are.

    Everett, “The Good Parts” works, too. As to what I’m getting out of this daily slog, I mean, blog — well, I’m taking a lot less time to warm up to writing because it seems like all I do is make sentences, and the sentence is after all a basic unit of the novel. I don’t know whether I’m writing better because of blogging daily, but I do know:
    1. I’m getting started more easily.
    2. I’m writing well at the moment, but I don’t know whether that’s because of the blogging or just because the character of Madison has me so engaged.
    3. I’m good and tired at the end of the day.

    Absolutely right, Bonnie. Missing the blessings (or good moments, or glimpses of beauty, or whatever) as they occur is like being tone deaf while great music is playing or like taking extravagant gifts for granted. The Goddess would have every reason to be displeased. And re: your second comment, people who haven’t read CRASHED should know that this refers to the book, not some esoteric necrophiliac fixation I’ve developed.

    Suzanna, why are you so nice to me? I’m not used to this. (You know I’m kidding.) Once again, everyone, I’ve known Sooozie since she was (literally) four years old.

    Hi, Robb — I’m amazed you remember that after all these decades. I have a feeling I was smoking something because I was never that good unassisted. (Now, of course, my system is as clear as spring water.) I love what you said. There absolutely is a big difference between recognizing your blessings and embracing them. I haven’t really given that anywhere near enough thought.

    Lil, Robb teared me up, too. He and I have been friends since we were (I think) in our teens, and he’s never stopped surprising me. And he’s a marvelous writer, one of the best lyricists ever and a terrific screenwriter. And thanks for being so sweet about this somewhat patchy enterprise, Lil. It’s probably best that men talk about their feelings less than women do. It’s kind of grisly to imagine a room full of guys talking feelings.

    Sylvia, there’s a lot to be said for simplicity. Moments is a great title. I’m also thinking I might put an image on the front. I’ve actually had a great time digging up the 60-some images I’ve used at the head of these messages, and it’s been a bit of a stretch for me because I’m more a word guy than an image guy.

    Susan: First, HI!!! We’re all glad you came by. I was going to start my book today but my wife wants to buy it, and she can’t do it until tomorrow. Maybe we’ll start on the same day. See what I mean about women? You had a gratitude journal years ago, and it takes someone’s book to give me the idea.

  11. Jaden Says:

    Tim, I love this idea. I’m going to start one of these myself.

    I like the title THE GOOD PARTS. And the others are right when they say you are no emotional amputee. When people tell me Jared is too emotional and compassionate to be a man, I think of you and know they’re wrong.

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    I’ve got it, I’m writing in it, and I haven’t named it yet. I’m thinking perhaps an image of some kind.

    But it’s an interesting way to look back on a day — just noting blessings, gifts, kindnesses, forgiveness, missed bullets, etc.

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