Thursday, March 31, 2011

On the "I Wish I'd..." List

Like any fledgling creative, there's a long list of "I wish I'd..." Everyone has a wish list like this in some form or other - perhaps the "I wish I'd said..." or the "I wish I'd done..." list. Some lists may read more like the "I could've done that!" (as in "What a stupid idea! I could've thought of a protective banana case, too!") Mine consists of things I wish I'd created, that I feel I should've created because they completely capture my humor or philosophy. This ever-growing list doesn't normally include novels, art, or musical compositions. Because I'm only a fledgling creative and not being particularly well-endowed with patience, I recognize my lack of staying power to follow through on creating a work that substantial. For those who can set their brush to canvas, their pencil to the staff, or their fingers to typing long enough to finish a true opus, I hold only admiration, never envy.

This list normally consists of the blog post or article and the occasional turn-of-phrase. It's the pith, the thought that can be communicated in approximately 140 characters (give or take 500). It's the book title or the haiku.

Behold, a few items from my "I wish I'd..." list:
* The Solitude of Prime Numbers. A beautiful title for a book I've yet to read (it's in the stack) - but the title alone is what grabs. A prime number can only be divided by itself and one. There must be loneliness in this story, and I'm hoping for a sense of positive closure at the end. I don't demand happily-ever-after endings but it's sure nice to find a well-written one.

* "Me, on Shuffle" by Chuck Klosterman. I wish I'd written this entire article which is a genius post about one's relationship with fractions and phrases of music (an emotional connection doesn't take an entire song).

* The Book of Lost Things. This could be the title of my daily diary with my list of things to do and those left undone. Admittedly, I'm biased because I've read the book (a fairy tale intended for young adult readers) and adored it, but the adoration began with the title.

* Limbo: And Other Places I Have Lived. Another one in the stacks with a beautiful title.

* Ceci n'est pas un pipe. Although I said I don't tend to envy art, this is an exception. It's simple, it's droll, it's witty and it was conceived about 50 years before I even manifested as my dad's ocular twinkle.

* "You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think," by Dorothy Parker. Just one of many Dorothy Parker witticisms to which I wish I could lay my own claim. Change "Dorothy Parker" to "Ogden Nash" and there's another sub-list in its own right.

* "On Turning Eighty" by Henry Miller. I had thought to begin by saying "I wrote similar thoughts in a blog post about turning 30," but quickly realized that's akin to claiming the ant colony had the Burj Khalifa in mind when building its nest. Miller revels in the youth of his age and unashamedly eschews certain conventions. I wish I could be Miller's 80 in my 30s but perhaps that kind of appreciation takes another half century to cultivate.

Beauty, simplicity, and monumental value packed into every word -- so representative of an aspect of "me" that it leaves me feeling that these individuals somehow delved into my brain and picked them out before they entered my consciousness. Of course, to think that I could come up with such morsels of delight is a manifestation of my ego-based envy. But it's also encouraging because to make it onto the "I wish I'd..." list requires a certain similarity of thinking, a certain oneness. It's like finding friends, even if the friendship is based on only a single shared moment.