A few of my favorite things

I’ve spent the last three weeks traveling in the beautiful country of Uruguay. Each week has been spent in a different city, with lodging ranging from a beautiful beachfront home, to grimy hostels that lack air conditioning. To say the trip has been a challenge is a bit of an understatement. Yet, it’s also given an incredible new perspective on my own understanding of what I ‘need’ to find my proverbial happy place.

Given the slew of swill that seems to be overflowing our political climate/news, I thought it would be nice to sink the swill with a few tokens of gratitude.

In The Sound of Music, Maria sings the famous song “A few of my favorite things” during a time when the children were distressed. Remembering your favorite things is a sweet way of seeing the silver lining behind every storm cloud.

   When the dog bites, when the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

 1.) Classical Upbringing
As a child, I was raised watching black-and-white films, with actors/actresses such as Cary Grant, James Stewart, Katherine Hepburn, and Charles Chaplin. I didn’t realize many of my peers didn’t grow up watching treasures such as The Swiss Family Robinson, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, The Sound of Music, Singing in the Rain, or His Girl Friday. My parents were committed to raising their children in a wholesome household, beginning with the decision to turn of the television during my kindergarten years.

Their decision to provide us with alternative forms of entertainment, such as classic films and trips to museums, was one of the things I’m most thankful for, as an adult. To this day, I’ve never seen a single episode of TMNT, most MTV channels, or many 90’s Hollywood films, nor is there a desire to.

2.) Steve
There’s a saying in the Hebrew language: “Henei ma tov umanaim. Shevet achim gam yachad” which means “behold, how good and how blessed it is for brothers to dwell together.”

While I think it’s a bit hypocritical for those who practice this tune to continue to build settlements in stolen land (‘god’ told you to take it…are you kidding me?) I appreciate the spirit of the tune, as I’ve found my life has blossomed since moving to San Francisco with my older brother, Steve.

I’ve heard it said before that “before there was Adam and Eve, there was Adam and Steve” – a tribute to the incredible bond, forged in brotherhood.

Whenever I think about Steve, I have to pause and soak in just how much I appreciate him. I never thought my heart was capable of loving somebody as much as Steve, because he’s the first person I’ve ever realized unconditional love with. At a time in my life where I was broken, he stepped in embraced me with love – taking the pain/burden until I reached a point of being whole again.

No matter where I find myself in the world, the thought of Steve brings joy and love to my heart.

3.) Dance
Nearly ten years ago, I was at a charismatic christian conferences, where a woman stopped in her tracks to point at me and say “you’re a dancer.” At the time, I looked at her as if she were crazy. “You must have the wrong one” I thought to myself, as my feet felt much more like cinder blocks than artistic potential.

When I came to San Francisco, I discovered the joy within movement. A trip to Burning Man helped solidify the love I’ve discovered within dance.

Dance has helped me to realize that every step within life can be taken with joy/peace – even the ones that seem painful at the time. One of my favorite places to be (aside from Azar’s patio) is on the dance floor with a crowd of my friends, with a fan.

4.) Fans
At Burning Man, I brought a few of the folding fans I bought in China. it seemed like a fancy accessory that would help keep me cool through the desert heat. I soon realized the joy that comes with cooling others off on the dance floor (and beyond)

My ‘big fan’ seems to have become a bit of a staple in my life. It’s one of my favorite things because it gives me a way to show love to others, while keeping myself cool. As a side perk, fans can help you cut through any crowd, as people will often part like the red sea when they feel a cool breeze behind them.

I’ve now taken my fans across the world and have always found a smiling face in front of the breeze. It’s a simple way of showing others a small slice of simple luxury…for only $11.99 on Amazon.

5.) Azar
When I moved in with Azar, last October, I didn’t realize what an incredible blessing I was walking in to through her friendship, home, and love. She and I have shared many moments of conversation, laughter, dance, and time with our family of friends.

Azar’s home is my favorite place in the universe. I really mean that. She’s crafted her home into a source of joy, rooted with a foundation of love. Through her love and friendship, I’ve felt as if she has been one of the final chapters into my entrance to manhood, as she’s shown me how to live with limitless love.

She is the rarest of women.

6.) Gratitude
I am a firm believer that gratitude can help walk you through any situation, no matter how difficult. I’ve learned that it’s very easy to be thankful when times are good. Yet, it’s critical to maintain the same heart of gratitude during the rocky moments.

A few years ago, I received advice to “sink your past with tokens of gratitude” – a practice that attaches gratitude to recollection of past pains/failures/experiences. E.g. “I used to suffer from anxiety…and I’m so thankful that it’s no longer an issue.”

It’s a practice that helps put things in the rearview mirror, and appreciate the lessons they were able to teach you during their time in your life. Rather than let things stew and become bitter, gratitude shows the transformation they provide.

In summary, I have a lot of things to be thankful for. As I type this, I’m watching a magnificent thunderstorm pour through the clouds of Uruguay, into the ocean. While I can’t control who is in office, or the the next four years of the United States, I can remember that life has proven itself to be very, very good to me and those I love most.

There’s never been a storm that has overcome those with hope, love, and friendship.


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