Last year, I turned 24 and decided to share 24 things I learned in those years. If the reader will let me be self-indulgent again this year, I’m continuing on a similar theme and sharing 25 things for which I’m truly grateful as my 25th birthday approaches in a few weeks. These are really just the items that happened to occur to me as I wrote, but I suppose that makes them raw and honest. It grew quite a bit, so I’ll be splitting it into two parts. Here’s the first.
UPDATE: Part two can be read here.
A wise man once told me that cooking is one of the highest forms of lovemaking. A good meal appeals to all the senses and when you cook for someone – a friend, lover, family, anyone – they know that you’ve laboured to make them happy. Cooking and sitting down together for a meal is how we take care of one another. Cooking ensures that our loved ones’ basic nutritional needs are met, but also offers us time to come together to share in one another’s company. The most valuable thing that you can give someone is your time and when you cook for someone, you give them your time in creating a beautiful meal and in enjoying it with them.
The most obvious item on this list for anyone who knows me. Since I’ve started keeping this blog, I’ve written the equivalent of three books and the adrenaline rush I get from putting an idea onto the page is beyond words, even for someone as verbose as I can be. I am in full agreement with the late great Christopher Hitchens, who in his last days said, “My life is my writing before it’s anything. Because that’s who I am and my children come later and that’s what they’ve had to put up with.” I am happiest when I write, and if no one were to read my words – hardly anyone does as it is – that would be fine by me.
3. The Films of Quentin Tarantino
Films don’t just have to entertain us. They can challenge us, scare us, offend us, and thrill us in a way that causes us to lose sight of that reassuring mantra, “It’s just a movie.” This is what I learned when John Travolta drove that adrenaline shot into Uma Thurman’s chest and when Michael Madsen made sure that I would think of only one thing when I hear Stealers Wheel. Quentin Tarantino was and is the maverick filmmaker for my generation, the storyteller who made me fall in love with cinema.
His films were the gateway drug which have left me with an insatiable appetite for films that don’t just seek to entertain, but assault the viewer’s senses and sensibilities. Since developing this appetite in my teens, I’ve found and savoured Ingmar Bergman, Martin Scorsese, Luis Bunuel, Federico Fellini, Woody Allen, Terrence Malick, Roman Polanski, Werner Herzog, Francois Truffaut, Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick, and the Coen Brothers.
4. My Nieces
It simply doesn’t matter that I’m a grown man in a position of authority over my nieces. When a four year old tells you that she is going to comb your hair so that you can “look like a princess,” you kind of just have to go along with it. If anything, kids humble you. Any parent, uncle, aunt, or even older cousin or sibling, knows that when it comes to the young people in your life, you find yourself willing to work especially hard for their happiness or stoop to especially low levels for their amusement. They’ll even challenge you and ask questions about a Dr. Seuss story that never crossed your mind. Having been an uncle for almost five years now, I’m actually proud of myself for learning not to be so self-centred and put the lives of others ahead of my own.
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