I’m always startled when I see someone say that they hate something I love. Not because I don’t think they have a right to feel that way about it, or to express their feelings, but because I’m often just shocked at how different my feelings about something can be from someone else’s, especially someone with whom I share other things in common. And then I sit back and think about how amazingly wonderful it is that we all have things we love, that even with our incredibly diversity, there are individuals out there creating things that touch us in a personal way. A way that perhaps does not touch other people.
An example: A few years back, I saw two movies within about a week and a half of each other, both of them for free as a Tekserve Movie Event (cool thing we did at my last job in NY). One was American Beauty. The other was Being John Malkovich. Everyone was wowed by American Beauty, and I could see why. I could admire it, the beautiful filmmaking and heartfelt performances. It was a well-crafted film, without a doubt. There was something about Being John Malkovich, however, that touched me in a much deeper way. I thought it probably was, objectively, the inferior film, but there was something special in it for me that American Beauty did not have. It spoke to me on an extremely personal level, to exactly the parts of me that other people often did not understand or relate to. I felt as though the movie had been created just for me, and that made it the more intense experience. That’s the movie I wanted to see over and over again. That’s the writer whose work I followed forever after.
I think we all must have these things, these special things created by others that make us feel a little less alone in the world, like maybe there is someone out there who understands how we think about things. And so, I’m going to make a list. These are a few things that I love. Some of them are universally loved and recognized. Some are not. But they are all things that have made me feel they were created just for me:
Charlie Kaufman movies
Marx Brothers movies
Rufus Wainwright songs
Andy Stochansky songs
Polly Pen’s Goblin Market and Bed & Sofa
Pierre Bonnard’s Nude in the Bath
Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood and Total Eclipse
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Villette
Francis Poulenc and Louise de Vilmorin’s Fiançailles pour rire
Anything by Sergei Prokofiev
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel
Ravel’s piano pieces
Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd
Dead Like Me
Old Yes albums
Peter Mulvey’s Birgit and Tender Blindspot
Christina Rossetti poems
BJ Chute’s Greenwillow
Okay. That’s a start. Those are the first things that popped into my head.
What are yours? What bits of thought have touched you? What human creations have helped you feel human? What makes you realize that you’re really not alone? That somewhere, out in the world, there might be even just one person who understands that secret, special part of you, the part that you can’t explain?
Make a list. Add to it. Keep it close. Share it. Pass it on.