Every Day is a Good Day

November 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Bob Ross’s recent birthday put me in mind of some of his quotable sayings. A funny, musical remix of these can be found on the PBS website and YouTube. The PBS Digital Studios series, remixed by John D. Boswell, also includes videos for Mr. Rogers and Julia Child. What the creators of these videos have done is highlight the phrases of inspiration that each of those icons gave us.

Julia Child encourages us to “keep on cooking!” and advises us that “freshness is essential.” Mr. Rogers tells us that we can grow ideas in the gardens of our minds. Bob Ross puts a spin on mistakes, which are, he says, not mistakes but “happy accidents.” He also says something that rings very true to me: “every day is a good day when you paint.”

Any kind of creation or act that brings joy — such as writing — is that act of “painting” that makes any day a good one. It’s an inspiring thought. Just by doing that one thing, a person can make any day into a good day. Everyone is creative in some way. To express oneself in a tangible way is a natural urge of being human.

I think that every day that I write is a good day. (I also think that any day that contains a cup of tea and some chocolate is a good day, but that’s a musing for another time.) Writing fulfills a fundamental need. I don’t, as some writers say, “live to write.” Rather, writing gives my life fullness. Writing processes the marvel that is living into an elixir of wonder. When I’m lucky, it also results into a story that I want to share.

As Julia Child says, freshness is essential. Freshness has a broad meaning, as anyone who cooks knows. Dried spices and aged meats can be fresh. Sundried tomatoes have a flavor distinct from tomatoes freshly picked. In the same way, I like to draw from many sources to give my writing the bright flavor notes that I want. Ingredients are everywhere. We readers like familiar elements in our reading, but we want them to have that all important freshness, too.

I don’t have the green thumb that my mother had, but I like to think that the garden of my mind is as green and well tended as Mr. Rogers wanted all of our minds to be. I picture it as a sprawling, fruitful place with winding paths, wide open fields in the sunlight, and hidden grottos.

Ideas that I don’t quite remember planting in that particular plot often pop up. I have to wonder if even the weeds that escape pulling and thrive are “happy accidents” of their own. After all, the only difference between a weed and a desirable plant is that we want it. If you garden, just think of mint! In the Pacific Northwest, blackberry bramble is a formidable foe, but that doesn’t mean that the berries aren’t sweet in the summer. In a concrete-paved city, the sight of morning glory winding its way along a power line is an image of beauty.

It’s all perspective, of course. I am not a naturally positive thinker, I admit. Every day is a good day when I write because I have decided that it is so. I write, therefore it is a good day.

Writing is about perspective, about giving the reader an opportunity to look through another person’s eyes. Reading not only developes the ability to understand another person’s perspective, it gives readers tools to change the reader’s own perspective. For the duration of a story, a reader gets to try out being someone else, someone else’s decision making and reactions. Sometimes, the character is someone that we imagine is a better version of ourselves. We can take that perspective with us when the story is over; it makes it just a little easier to change our own thinking to that better version.

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