“things that fill you up”

“things that fill you up”


Some days I feel restless. I click through emails, submission calls, Zillow photos, job posts, etc., subconsciously thinking the answer to any of my discomforts in life might be just on the other side of that click. It never is.

When this sad, restless feeling is at it’s worst, I can’t even write. Or if I try to write, the words come out as vague and pale as my emotions.

In those moments, if I can pull myself together a little, I remember this great advice from a favorite professor, “Feast on things that fill you up.” Her examples: movies, books, a walk in a garden, a trip to the zoo, a glass of wine, a conversation with a fellow writer, an interaction with a child. Consider all these “fillers” as important to your writing as the writing itself.

In that spirit, I give you some recent examples:

  1. The Hamilton Soundtrack – I had no idea this rap-driven history lesson in musical theater form would be so moving to me, but I love it. We all do, actually. The whole family passes through the house singing, “I am NOT throwin’ away my SHOT!” and other great songs. Did you see this video from the cast’s Grammy performance?
  2. Brooklyn – This simple, quite movie was everything I wanted it to be. Beautiful, a moving but not overly complicated story.
  3. Jaber Crow – I’m just getting into this one. It’s known as Wendell Berry’s best novel. So far, it’s delicious.
  4. Felicity – Mary Oliver’s latest book of poems. I tend to take essay topics and try to turn them into poems. Oliver’s poems remind me a passing glance is sometimes enough for a good poem.
  5. Jimmy Fallon laughing – I could watch this all day long. No one is a better fan than Jimmy Fallon and I think if we all tried being better at this – at genuinely enjoying others – then we’d be better at life.

And besides those are a few more less-produced things that fill me up:

the way it’s still dark when I meet my friend for early morning exercise,

the way my children talk when they know no one is listening but me,

the way my ankles look in my new pair of moccasin-style shoes.

So many things in this life to fill me up –

few of them on the other side a touch pad click.


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