My mother, Chickie Ling, Jerome, Arizona, around 1920

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Absolute Joy - My Top Twenty List

As I'm getting older and realizing my days here are numbered, I do try to seize the day, to be in the moment. Usually it doesn’t work, but occasionally it does. Being here in Portland with my grandchildren, holding them, and actually being able to feel their chubby feet and their very busy little vibes, make me want to stop time in order to frame the feeling, to be acutely present in the absolute joy I'm experiencing.

All of this thinking and feeling leads me to the notion of documenting, in some way, memories of great happiness I've felt throughout my life. I worked diligently to narrow them down; most are generic, a few specific. The majority are from recent years, but not all. And please know that I realize how self serving this is, how all about me it is, and why on earth would anyone else want to read it? If you decide to pass this one by, I won't blame you. However, I do wonder if my list will encourage you to contemplate
your list.

Here is my Absolute Joy Top 20 List at this particular moment in no particular order:
  1. Certain songs and singers - Fly Like a Bird by Boz Skaggs, Wayfaring Stranger by Johnny Cash, almost anything by Van Morrison or Lucinda Williams or Tracy Chapman ( I just added this one) or Neil Young (I've got to turn off KPIG)
  2. Holding my babies and grandbabies for the first time
  3. Sunrises and sunsets - I know this one is sappy and probably a cliche, but it's true
  4. My birthday dinner at Tierra with Molly, when we talked about her dreams for her future and I drank too much wine and she drove me home
  5. A Gospel Christmas each year at Atlanta Symphony Hall
  6. Sitting at a tiny Italian restaurant in Athens, Georgia, eating lunch, while my dissertation was being printed
  7. Watching my grandkids dance
  8. Barack Obama winning the presidency
  9. Finding my copy of Arizona Highways with the article I'd written in my mailbox
  10. When Allison preached my mother’s funeral at the edge of Oak Creek
  11. Many Christmas mornings, especially one at Tybee some time around 1995
  12. The beach in winter
  13. When someone likes my writing
  14. Being with my kids
  15. When I create something new and I'm happy with it
  16. The first time I saw Michael Jackson moonwalk
  17. The beginning of Lonesome Dove and the end of A Prayer for Owen Meany
  18. Most cats
  19. Christmas lights, especially the colored ones, especially when they are in bars
  20. My solo weekend trip to Paris
I thought hard about this list and it feels right. People who know me well will say, "There's Marcia going on again about such and such," but that's a good thing because, if I blab about it to the point of embarrassing myself, then I probably love it, and what I love defines me.

In addition, with the exception of being with my family, almost everything on my list happened when I was by myself, and I don't know if that means I'm ultimately happiest with just me, or, if it could be that, without the distraction of others, I'm better able to stop and appreciate the wonderfulness of a particular moment.

So, I guess supreme happiness for me would be to meet up with a cat at a beach-side bar at sunset on Christmas with Van Morrison on the jukebox. I could show the cat pictures of my grandkids dancing and, perhaps, something I've written. I just hope he'd like it.


  1. Enjoyed your list. Will have to think about my own. Probably should just list the first things that come to mind.

    BTW added you to my Blogroll. Surely enjoyed your Oak Creek and Jerome pieces. I need to write about some of my own experiences, reactions and significance of the area to me.

  2. Well, I sure liked this post. I adventure out by myself often and love it. I think you are right by saying that being by yourself allows you time to be more aware of your surroundings. Also, perhaps, allows you too know yourself better.

  3. I love this, Marcia. You definitely have a way with words.