Looking on the bright side of life is difficult, especially now. Everything is uncertain and it’s difficult to say, “At least I have a job,” if you have to tack on “for now” afterwards. What’s more, does anybody like being told to look on the bright side of life? No.
But at the end of the day, if you’re reading this, you’re still alive. I hope that you’ve had a decent meal recently. I hope you and your loved ones are healthy. I hope you’re secure in your home and your work. If not, I hope things improve.
I often fall short in counting my blessings, but I try not to whine and I try to do the best I can in my work. I truly have a lot for which to be thankful.
Vincent Price—one of my very favorite actors—once called lack of gratitude the “number-one sin in the world.”
“Evil consists of the supreme act of ingratitude,” he said, “to not be grateful for your life, not to be grateful for your love, for your sharing with people your ideas and accepting from them their ideas.”
This is coming from a fine arts connoisseur and gourmet chef who dreamed of making it as a revered Shakespearean actor but instead found himself typecast in B-grade horror movies his entire career. And you know what? Watch any of those movies and you will see a man who gives every performance his all no matter what. He never thinks he’s too good for a role. Watch him and you’ll see a quality that makes a great actor (or reporter, bartender, teacher, librarian—whatever): gratitude.
The grass is always greener somewhere else. That’s why we have aspirations and dreams. It’s healthy to pursue those, but equally healthy to be grateful for each pitstop along the way, even the scary ones. With that in mind, here are a few things for which I’m truly grateful.
Reading: It’s National Poetry Month
I have been reminded that April is National Poetry Month. I’m a little late. In the spirit of Vincent Price, I’d do well to recommend his favorite poet, Edgar Allan Poe. However, I also have to acknowledge that some readers may not find Poe’s works particularly uplifting.
Instead, consider visiting poetryfoundation.org, which offers a vast catalogue of poems to read for free. They even have a “Poem of the Day” section.
Many of us may be feeling lonesome at the moment and—shocker—many a poet has written on the subject of loneliness. The Poetry Foundation recently highlighted Emily Dickinson’s “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers - (314),” and Langston Hughes’ “Hope.” Both are excellent, insightful reminders of the bittersweet and unending propensity of the human spirit to hope for better days.
For those who write poems as well as read them, The Community Library has been running its own Poetry Month celebration, and is asking for the public to submit poems. Visit comlib.org/poetry-month to learn more.
Viewing: “Groundhog Day”
Someone recently pointed out to me that life is in full-blown Groundhog Day mode right now. Each morning we wake up to the same Sonny and Cher song, to the same exact circumstance, the same routine, the same news, and the only differences we ever experience have to be deliberate on our part, and even so, will only last until nightfall. Then “I Got You Babe” will wake us up again.
It is a huge bummer to live life that way, but as we will learn from watching the classic Bill Murray comedy, the only way to truly break the cycle is through serious, good-hearted self-improvement.
Like pretty much everything, that’s easier said than done, but watching “Groundhog Day” seems like a good start. It’s also just a very funny movie.
“Groundhog Day” is available for streaming on Netflix. If you want a Vincent Price movie, check out “The Last Man on Earth,” streaming on Amazon Prime.
Listening: “Strange Trails” by Lord Huron
As long as we’ve got Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Price flying around, why not check out Lord Huron’s sophomore album “Strange Trails.”
Without being depressive or whiny in any conceivable way whatsoever, indie band Lord Huron has produced three albums almost exclusively about the inevitability of death.
Though they never make light of death and are never irreverent, these songs very rarely present this morbidity as something to be upset about. Frequently upbeat tempos, catchy tunes and witty lyrical turns of phrase remind the listener that death is all well and good as long as you’ve taken the time to appreciate—and be grateful for—life.
Want to listen to Vincent Price? I bet you already have. Look no further than his eerie outro to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
For the Kids: Virtual Storytime
From The Community Library in Ketchum, Children’s Librarian Lee Dabney has been recording and posting weekly themed story times online at comlib.org/virtual-story-time. In addition to the story, she’s also been posting little crafting videos, selecting an activity that aligns with the story theme and uses commonly found household items.
Over at the Hailey Public Library, they’ve put together an entire “COVID-19 Curriculum” section on their website, aggregating educational resources, activities, videos and stories from all over the place. Check it out at haileypubliclibrary.org/covid-19-curriculum.
Want some Vincent Price for the kids? Check out “The Great Mouse Detective” on Disney+.