This past summer I was able to participate in an internship program (in the film industry) run by a libertarian organization, and last night we had a dinner party for the interns and fellows of the organization in the LA area. I’m not good at these things. I am too excited, too happy to be there to fit in. I should have worn glasses and brushed up on my cool facts about myself, but I didn’t do either of those things. While others ranted on their current noble endeavors to make documentaries on prisons and refugees, I explained my desire to make a funny movie that people would go see. While they mentioned obscure political films, I talked about Goonies and poop jokes. The further conversations went, the more I became wary of telling people I wanted to help create a movie that wasn’t solely fueled by libertarian ideals. To be clear, I thought their ideas were awesome and told them as much, but I just wasn’t being reciprocated. A few hours in, when strangers asked me what I wanted to do, the mantra, “just make it libertarian sounding,” entered my head.
Apparently, this worked so well that the last time I was asked about my future goals I said, “I just want to live in a cabin with lots of land where I can write. And I, uh, I want to have a basement full of ammunition.” After that I called it a night, and I am still mentally shaking my head at myself.
So the title doesn’t rhyme, but it sounds like it almost does, right? Throw me a bone.
I live in a pretty place, and sometimes I forget how beautiful it really is and how much I dreamed of living here when I was younger.
But like so many dreams becoming reality. Living here, in California, is different than I imagined. It’s busier and more expensive and more real. Isn’t that what happens when what we wish for comes true? It’s simultaneously more and less and different than you thought, but that’s because it’s not just a thought anymore. The dream has been thrust into reality and that means it’s so much messier than you imagined. But, can I just say, it’s so much greater, too.
There is someone out there “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Isn’t that awesome? Because I imagine some pretty great things. I ask for specific, crazy, wonderful things in my life, and yet, everything I receive is so much better than anything I could think up to ask. I’m not trying to paint a picture of perfection here because my life is FAR from it, but even if it isn’t perfect, it’s certainly beautiful. Every day, here in California, and at home, in Indiana, life is beautiful as dreams manifest themselves in reality, and something greater, something more than we could ever imagine for ourselves, takes root in our lives.
The ocean. One of my favorites then and now, too. The ocean seems to me to be the ultimate metaphor for a good life. It has it’s stormy days and it’s weak days, but no matter how many times the water recedes from shore, a new wave always comes back up. No matter what tragedy or bad day or any worldly happening, the ocean just keeps on washing over the sand, making it new again.
Okay, so in my world, a visit to Costco is delightful. It’s special. It’s exciting and adventurous, and if you’re frugal, it can almost be heavenly. Almost. Apparently, things were a little too divine on my most recent visit to Costco last Sunday. While visiting family in Arizona, we put my membership card to good use, exploring the warehouse’s plethora of bulk items. We also partook of the only thing small at Costco, the samples. Now this was no ordinary day. This sacred day, to my utter (and surprisingly strong) delight, a small booth settled in the chips section, was handing out sweet nectar, or Diet Dr. Pepper.
“Have some,” a kind Costco worker said.
I obliged this heavenly club worker, even pumping a fist before lifting the fine dixie cup to thine lips. Yes, I do love Dr. Pepper, and I enjoyed it immensely as we moseyed down the next aisle. Turning the corner and rounding back up, we found ourselves once again by the beverage of my heart and the angel who served it.
“Since you were a fan, how about you have some more,” my angel in a hairnet said.
“Really?” Could this be true? Better hurry before she changes her mind.
“Thank you,” I said as I picked up the drink. What happened next was out my control.
By that I mean, I don’t what I was thinking. I tipped the glass to her, as if to say, “Cheers.” I winked, and I loudly said in a deep voice, “You’re doing God’s work here.”
The lovely woman was a little takenaback, and I left her immediately with a confused look on her face, a little confused myself. God’s work? Did I really just tell someone that serving DDP was God’s work?
Now, I think that this story has a few morals: (1) I am ridiculous (less of a moral, more of a fact of life), (2) Apparently Costco is a spiritual experience, (3) God’s work can actually happen with only giving out delicious coke, and (4) although it’s risky saying things before thinking about them, it often produces moments of hilarity to be enjoyed as often as possible.
A few more small things that bring me satisfaction.
6. BRUSHING MY DOG. I know what you’re thinking, “I know! I love brushing my dog, too!” Calm down, okay? I don’t really like brushing my dog’s hair. It’s annoying. She flips around for the first five minutes, and I will inevitably be covered in hair afterwards. But, my puppy, Estelle Getty, truly enjoys this, and I enjoy not having black lab hair everywhere. Sometimes (lots of times) satisfaction blossoms out of things I have to choose to enjoy.
7. GOOD WORDS. This could be the writer in me, but I love saying words that pop out of your mouth. They don’t have to be fancy or remarkable in any way other than the way they sound. Words like punctual, crisp, garbanzo, pustule, persnickety, or waffle are a few of my favorites. In my defense, if I’m talking to you about a timely, stubborn pimple or eating bean waffles, it’s probably an excuse to use those words.
8. EATING. This could probably be the list. Food is good and makes life good, too. One spectacular food venture I engulfed recently was the Sonoran hot dog, or Arizona’s all-out attempt at a heart attack: a hot dog covered in bacon with beans, onions, tomatoes, some sort of jalepeño sauce, and some sort of white sauce in a delicious bun. LOTS of satisfaction with that one.
9. BEING OUTSIDE. Man oh man. Sometimes I think I (and everyone) forgets what gifts the great outdoors have to offer. Whether I’m running, planking (that’s a joke), lazily biking, walking my dog, standing on the sidewalk (wish this were a joke), or soaking up the sun, the fresh air and calm sounds of being outside can instantly make the day better. Not to mention, moving around always seems to make the day better. No, that’s not me dancing in my room when it’s raining out. No…
10. PEOPLE. Let’s be honest, sometimes people are jerks. Sometimes I am one of those jerks. But most of the time, with one-on-one interactions when you are positive, people are so cool. From crazies who invite me to their 34th birthday party with a handwritten invitation after just meeting me (true story) to a best friend who makes you belly laugh, people are simply incredible. I like to be alone, but I also love people! And interacting with them, even the “crazies,” makes the day seem real and worth it and satisfying.
I’m content in never being satisfied. Let me explain. Life moves, constantly. At each victory, there is a new mountain, and this cycle is beautiful. But it’s also tedious and daunting and exhausting. I think, then, that it’s important to savor the tiny moments of satisfaction peppered, or even hidden, in the daily. These things make me feel accomplished when the bigger dreams are so far from complete, and they make the journey fun.
And let me just say this. I’m in my twenties, and this has made me think it’s entirely natural to feel discontent and far from where I think I need to be. But I think I’m probably always going to feel a little like that no matter my age. After all, this isn’t our final destination. It’s a gift to never be done, isn’t it? I mean, in some ways taking that on, makes me more at rest and more satisfied than when I actually accomplish something I perceive to be huge. Therefore, I’ve created a list, my friends, of daily things that give me, and I hope you, too, satisfaction.
1. AN EMPTY EMAIL INBOX. This is an amazing feeling! Note, you can find all of your unread emails by searching “is: unread” in gmail. You’re welcome. Outlook is a different beast, and I’m not doing to dwell on my 82 unread emails lost somewhere in the recesses of the internet. Surely, they’re just advertisements, right?
2. A NEW JAR OF PEANUT BUTTER. You’ve got a new container of pb. Congratulations! You now have enough goodness to last you a few weeks’ worth of PB&J’s (or PB&B(bananas)) if you’re hilly now, or you have enough creamy goodness to last you a single afternoon of Grey’s Anatomy if you’re hilly from freshman year of college. Self control issues concerning the Kryptonite that is peanut butter aside, I think we can all agree that taking the first scoop out of a perfectly smooth surface of manufactured deliciousness is one of the true joys in life. For the record, I am fully supporting of you almond butter lovers out there, but you Nutella people, I think you’re getting greedy.
3. TEETH FLOSSING. I understand a good deal of us don’t floss. Gross. I used to be in that category. Gross. We had to stick it to the dentist, right? Wrong. Let me tell you, flossing is one of the best, most satisfying parts of my day. Yes, that’s right. Flossing=good. Repeat.
4. LAUGHING. I’m going to put this twice because I want to. First, let’s talk about the physical act of laughing. Laughing is completely satisfying. It’s cathartic, it lightens everything, it makes you feel like you got a good ab workout in, etc.. When I heard about laugh therapy, I began a habit of taking a few minutes when I’m alone (I would suggest doing the same :)) and laughing. This means fake laughing until something real comes along. It’s actually really fun and silly and stupid, and who doesn’t like that combination. Quiet down, robots.
5. LAUGHTER. More abstractly, it feels good to be able to laugh at myself. I do a lot of dumb stuff. The person who stupidly cut you off in traffic or stood in the middle of the hallway doing nothing but unknowingly blocking your way or even the idiot who forgot to return a movie for a month and now owes twice the movie’s retail value? Those people are probably all me. I don’t mean to do any of this, and it’s pretty easy to get angry at myself for being dumb. But, I try, and I’m so happy when I succeed, to just laugh about it. It’s harder with the traffic, but the hallway thing, that’s how I make a work buddy! One that hates me to begin with, but hey, I’ll win them over.
These moments are affectionately referred to as “Bridget Jones” moments in the Miller household (possibly only by me). An example? I ordered a coffee named, “The Annihilator” this morning, and no joke, I said, “May I please have The Ann-hil… um the- this one,” having to resort to pointing after I botched the pronunciation of a simple word. The barista helped me out; I explained that I can’t read, a joke that I gave a little to dryly, and now will never go to that coffee shop again for fear he will give me a pack of Biscuit books. But the really special part, was how I laughed for five minutes afterwards about it. I know I’m not actually dumb, I hope. No, I’m not a genius, but hey, I like that I’m not. I’m happy with that. I played a spelling board game once, and one of my friends said that it was sad I couldn’t spell an “easy” word since I want to be a writer. Well, guess what, I’ve never been good at spelling even though I read and write a lot, so give it a break. Give yourself a break. I’ll give you a break. I want a kit-kat. This is getting off topic. The point is, laughing at yourself is a relief, and it’s one that I hope to share, not in a cruel way, but with compassion, to everyone I meet. We’re going to mess up, and it’s okay. It’s okay to be you, even if you’re a decently smart, bad spelling, peanut butter loving laugher like me, and it’s okay if you’re not any of those things. I’m glad I’m me, and I’m glad you’re you, and I’m glad to have little moments of satisfaction for us all to enjoy.
I have come to the unoriginal conclusion that it’s the little things. Now, I know that the actual saying continues on: “It’s the little things that count.” But for myself, I’d like to modify that if I could.
I would say, “it’s the little things that make life hilarious.” Take for instance, the pin I found at a knick-knack store in Ventura, CA.
This pin is ridiculous. I mean, for the individual looking to promote feline breastfeeding it’s perfect, but for the rest of us it’s both a little disgusting and a lot of hilarious.
I would also say, “it’s the little things I remember.” Like the first time I watched Marley & Me. It was my first night at college alone, and I’ve never cried at a movie more in my whole life.
But mostly I’d say, “it’s the little things that make life alive.” It’s the way mustard squirted on my white t-shirt in front of people I just met. It’s the fact that between the last sentence in this one I had to clean up a dog mess. 😦 It’s the new panoramic function my brother found on his camera phone. It’s all of those things and so many more that make life so full of life. And, I stopped making sense before this blog started, so sorry. Deal with it.
In honor of currently visiting family in the desert, here’s a family in the desert. Oh, and the family’s mine, and they’re the best. I’m the little one.
Ps. Mom taught me this trick for the spelling of desert vs. dessert, and for those of us who struggle with spelling, even though it has nothing to do with intelligence, I thought it might be helpful. Dessert has two S’s because you always want more of it. Never mixing those two up again.
“You’re supposed to enJOY it. All of it. For the rest of your life.”
I begin this post with a quote from Soul Surfer because I’m going to talk about JOY, swimming, and for unknown reasons, am set on including this picture from Oahu. So…
Let me be clear, I usually try to enJOY life. I enJOY the people I am around, even if they’re out of their minds. I enJOY myself, even when I’m out of my mind. I try to be intentionally JOYful.
However, JOY is also something that I often realize is missing from my days: the way I interacted with the cashier, the tone I had with my mom on the phone, or even just the way I let the day be less than mediocre for no reason at all. It seems that as I get older, things that I enJOY are threatened by… grown-up bad attitudes, mostly.
Take swimming. I LOVE to swim. Always have. Ask anyone (mainly my family) about my “dolphin show” I put on in the pool, and then maybe you’ll understand. Let’s just say I’m pretty good at multiple dolphin-like noises and belly finishes. Moving on… When I joined the swim team in high school, something I loved slowly slipped away from me, from no one’s fault but my own. I became stressed at practice and angry at my performance. And it was my bad attitude clouding my enJOYment of swimming, making me dread practice, and actually hindering me from getting better. By the time I got to college, I couldn’t even experience how cool it was to be on an NCAA Div I Swim Team (although it was just for my gpa, so don’t get too impressed). Instead, I was too embarrassed and disappointed in how slow my times were. What?! I look back on that now (only three years ago), and I can’t believe I let that amazing opportunity go by. An opportunity to get better at swimming, yes, but mostly an opportunity to enJOY the experience. To relish swimming in an Olympic-grade pool with future professional swimmers and Olympians. Seriously, why could I not just chill out and enJOY?!
I say this now because I think that the experiences I’m currently going through that threaten my JOY are very much the same. The world comes crashing down, trying to rain on my parade. Oh, how it tries. But guess what, ugly part of the world? You can’t stop this attitude (the good one)! I still love swimming, but it took a while to get back together. We’re still working on things. And there are things I treasure, things I do, and ways I think that I refuse to handle with anything but JOY. So cashier, I’ll make your day next time. And Mom, feel free to call. I’ll be nice. And day, you’re going to be spectacular, or at least full of laughter because laughter is my favorite way to live with JOY.
EnJOY your day, and I’m sorry for the annoying caps. (But not sorry enough to change them.)