Tag Archives: Jon Krakauer

100 Loves

“We don’t need to have just one favorite. We keep adding favorites. Our favorite book is always the book that speaks most directly to us at a particular stage in our lives. And our lives change. We have other favorites that give us what we most need at that particular time. But we never lose the old favorites. They’re always with us. We just sort of accumulate them.” –Alexander Lloyd

Hello friend,

Allow me to light up your day! Come along with me and play a game we will call “100 Loves”. The rules are simple. I will name a category, and all you have to do is quickly name ten of the things you love most in that category. There will be ten categories, so ten lists of ten. Hence, 100 Loves!

My one caveat/suggestion: Don’t try to get your list exactly right! In any of the categories, of course there will be many contenders to make your Top Ten. Don’t give in to the temptation to agonize over which ones get those last few spots and which get left off the list. Just write the first ten that come to you. [Secret from the game designer: no one is going to bust you for making your lists a bit longer. If longer feels better, go for it!] This is all about thinking of things that give you good memories, inspirations, warm fuzzies, giggles, and smiles. If you are feeling pressure to get your list right, you are playing the game wrong. And just because you are making a list from one to ten, this is not about dividing up your heart into exact amounts. As long as your answers make you feel good, anywhere on the list is wonderful. Don’t rank them! Got it? Good! Let’s play!!!

Category #1: Books

  1. Walden—by Henry David Thoreau (my all-time favorite piece of literature)
  2. Autobiography of a Yogi—Paramahansa Yogananda
  3. The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway
  4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance—Robert Pirsig
  5. Into the Wild—Jon Krakauer
  6. The War of Art—Steven Pressfield
  7. The Catcher in the Rye—J.D. Salinger
  8. Conversations With God (series)—Neale Donald Walsch
  9. On the Road—Jack Kerouac
  10. The Kite Runner—Khaled Hosseini

Category #2: Foods

  1. Monster Cookies (the ones my wife makes are divine and so naughty!)
  2. Garlic Bread
  3. Root Beer Floats (A&W preferred)
  4. Giant Burritos from Chipotle (I like them all!)
  5. Caramel Rolls (the ones my Mom makes are the best!)
  6. Grilled Halibut
  7. Dr. Pepper (I am not really a soda drinker, but when I indulge, the Doctor is in!)
  8. Pizza (I am not picky, but a simple pepperoni is lovely.)
  9. Smoothies (the one that my kids call “Mango Pineapple Pink” is delightful!)
  10. Chocolate Malt (made by my daughter after school—heavenly!)

Category #3: Inspirational Figures

  1. Martin Luther King, Jr.—Live your purpose. “The time is always ripe to do right.”
  2. Mohandas Gandhi—“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” He was.
  3. Henry David Thoreau—Be unapologetically you. Don’t just exist; LIVE!
  4. Ellen DeGeneres—Be you, be kind, and be generous. Oh yeah, and be silly.
  5. Mastin Kipp—Follow your heart. Stick with your biggest dream.
  6. Barack Obama—With the audacity of hope and lots of work, anything is possible.
  7. Dalai Lama—Spread positivity to every corner of the world. Be happy!
  8. Jimmy Carter—Spotlight or not, do good for all of the days of your life.
  9. Van Jones—In the most contentious of times, reach out across that chasm to find that we are rather more alike than we are different. Lead with love.
  10. My daughter, India—A contented soul makes the best company. Kindness first.

Category #4: Music Videos

  1. “Beat It”—Michael Jackson. Love that fight/dance scene!
  2. “Centerfold”—J. Geils Band. Those first bars were unmistakable and sent whoever was manning the family room TV into hysterics, yelling, “Centerfold’s on! Centerfold’s on!” so that the rest of the house would come running.
  3. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”—Cyndi Lauper. With Captain Lou Albano as her Dad, how could this not make the list? It really was fun!
  4. “Her Mercy”—Glen Hansard. One of the few from my adulthood. My spirit rises with it. So beautiful.
  5. “She’s A Beauty”—The Tubes. I can’t explain it; I just loved this from the start.
  6. “Parents Just Don’t Understand”—DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. There’s no need to argue.
  7. “Headphones”—Matt Nathanson. A documentary set to music. Makes me smile through my tears.
  8. “I Love Rock & Roll”—Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. This is everything about my childhood. The best anthem!
  9. “Brave”—Sara Bareilles. It is a masterpiece of inspiration and fun.
  10. “Thriller”—Michael Jackson. An absolute EVENT. Captivating!

Category #5: Actors

  1. Julianne Moore
  2. Don Cheadle
  3. Cate Blanchett
  4. Daniel Day-Lewis
  5. Emma Thompson
  6. Anthony Hopkins
  7. Kate Winslet
  8. George Clooney (man crush)
  9. Helena Bonham Carter
  10. Sean Penn

Category #6: Games

  1. Taboo—a highly amusing holiday tradition with my extended family!
  2. Ping Pong
  3. Mario Kart on Wii—I love this with my kids!
  4. Yahtzee—classic!
  5. Super Mario Brothers on Nintendo—my Mom bought one of the Classic Nintendo consoles at Christmas, and between my sister, brother-in-law, and my kids, that game was going continuously the entire holiday break. Ahh, nostalgia for the many hours wasted on that game in the old days….
  6. Foosball
  7. H-O-R-S-E (Basketball)
  8. Capture the Flag—My brother and I still get the kids going on this one at the lake every Summer. This was my backyard in the Summers of my youth. So much fun and so many memories!
  9. Rock Band on Wii—because, at one point or another, we all dreamed of being in a band, right?
  10. Scattergories—Great for a large group. Inevitably funny.

Category #7: People (Not immediate family to take the guilt out of it)

  1. Gabrielle
  2. Uncle Bob
  3. Aunt Caryl
  4. Ruby Red
  5. Karen a.k.a. lizzy
  6. Cousin Becca
  7. Aysun
  8. Phil
  9. Foley
  10. Uncle Lloyd

Category #8: Songs

  1. I Go To Work—Kool Moe Dee
  2. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters—Elton John
  3. Rochester—Mat Kearney
  4. No One—Alicia Keys
  5. Shame On You—Indigo Girls
  6. Walking In Memphis—Marc Cohn
  7. Let’s Get It On—Marvin Gaye
  8. Mrs. Potter’s Lullabye—Counting Crows
  9. Stand By Me—Ben E. King
  10. Seasons of Love—The Cast of “Rent”

Category #9: Activities

  1. Sledding
  2. Rollerblading
  3. Surfing
  4. Building a snowman
  5. Playing catch
  6. Hiking
  7. Kayaking
  8. Swimming
  9. Yoga
  10. Slip-n-Slide

Category #10: Movies

  1. Dead Poets Society
  2. The Thin Red Line
  3. Stand By Me
  4. Cinema Paradiso
  5. Slumdog Millionaire
  6. Almost Famous
  7. Home for the Holidays
  8. Beautiful Girls
  9. Moulin Rouge
  10. Life is Beautiful

Whew! We made it to 100! That was just a ton of fun! When I was making it up and deciding on categories, it seemed like fun, but it was so much more than that. It was nostalgic. It was emotional. It was deeply gratifying. Truly, that is what I take away from it: an astounding Gratitude for all of the wonderful blessings in my life, past and present. I am grateful, smiling, and inspired. Hooray!

How about you? What’s on your list of 100 Loves? Which categories were the most enjoyable to list? Which ones were hardest to keep to only ten items (I had a tough time keeping my Movies list at ten and made an extra-long list for that one on my paper). Which categories were the most emotional for you? Which brought you the most smiles and laughs? Did you break out any music, movies, or YouTube while you wrote? Which list had your most favorite memories? Were there some lists that just didn’t do much for you? If we were to make a second 100 Loves, which categories should we add (I toyed with bands, writers, locations, movie lines, even apps)? Was this as fun for you as it was for me? I hope you are smiling, anyway. Thanks for playing along! Leave me a reply and let me know: What are your 100 Loves?

Savor Life,

William

P.S. If this made you smile, please share it. We could all use more of those!

The Books That Have Touched Me Deepest

DSC_0522“I cannot live without books” –Thomas Jefferson

Hello friend,

My Mom once got me an old-style book bag with that Jefferson quote on it, and I hung it from a lamp in my room for years and years.  It doesn’t just say something about me; it speaks to me.  I can hardly recite it without my voice cracking and my hair standing on end.  It goes right to my core.  I cannot live without books.

I have always loved to read.   When I was in my mid-20s, for one year I kept track of all the books I read.  I averaged more than one per week and was gloriously happy in the process.  The only problem: each book I read suggested several more, so I ended up with a Wish List that was hundreds of titles long.  There is just so much to know!  Whenever I want to wander away in my mind, I just spin my desk chair around and gaze at my enormous bookshelf.  I easily drift away into the many favorites that have become so much a part of me over the years.  They are like old friends, the shelves like a photo album of fond memories.  However, there are also so many there that remain untouched, unopened.  Those are the ones that hound me, begging for my attention.  I vow to get to them all one day.  But how can I keep up?  A sane person would realize that he is too busy to get to the ones he already has and be wise enough to not add to the collection.  I, however, am insane.  Every year my Christmas list is full of more titles to fill the shelves.  What can I say?  I love books.

Last night as I wrote, I found myself needing a mental break.  I swung my chair around to look at my dear old friends on the shelves.  As I pondered my long list of favorites, I found my eyes and my memory drawn to the same titles over and over.  These were the books that burned right into my soul the first time I read them and have remained a genuine piece of who I am over the years.  My honorable mention list is enormous, but these four have certainly touched me the deepest:

  • Walden—Henry David Thoreau.  This book rocked my world and set me on my course probably more than any other.  I had always been drawn to it and finally read it when I was about 24.  Honestly, it felt like Thoreau was writing right out of my own mind.  I completely identified with his desire for solitude and simplicity, and I was similarly disenchanted with society.  But mostly I loved how he wanted to live authentically, to be fully himself and pay no mind to what others expected of him nor thought of him.  I loved that he “wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”  Those words shake me even as I type them.  This book shook me.  It truly set me on the psychological and spiritual path that I still live on.  I have adopted it as my own.
  • Into the Wild—Jon Krakauer.  The true story of Christopher McCandless’ (a.k.a. Alexander Supertramp) walk out of society and into his Truth—and ultimate death—in the wilderness has been out for nearly twenty years, yet I have never been able to shake him from my system.  He haunts me.  As with Thoreau, I very much identified with McCandless’ ideals and longings.  I believe that Krakauer did as well, and that bleeds into the telling of the story.  I have always enjoyed this type of book that reveals the tragic outcome at the beginning of the account and then goes back to dive into the lives of the characters and traces the timeline leading to the tragedy (e.g. The Perfect Storm, Finding Everett Ruess, and Krakauer’s Into Thin Air), but this is by far the one that still lives in me.  If I opened it right now, I wouldn’t put it down until I finished the last page.
  • Conversations With God—Neale Donald Walsch.  I am actually cheating with this one, because I am including the entire …With God series–some of which I actually like better than the first book–in my sentiment.  Like Walden, this series is a cornerstone in my entire spiritual/psychological foundation.  It came to me at a time, not long after Thoreau, when I had shed the religious teachings of my youth but had not yet found anyone talking specifically about the God I knew.  Enter Walsch and his “conversation” with God.  I found myself saying out loud, “Yes” or “Exactly!” frequently as I read.  I knew I wasn’t alone.  Having read the Bible, Koran, Bhagavad-Gita, and other sacred texts, I found some relief, too, in the idea that holy books did not have to be 2,000 years old.
  • On The Road—Jack Kerouac.  This is pure romance for me.  I was absolutely taken by these mad characters, all based on real people—including himself—in Kerouac’s life.  The “spontaneous prose” that he writes in completely swept me away.  Much like the others, this book gained its place in my heart based on its appearance on my life’s timeline.  You see, just as I was about to embark on the biggest “roadtrip” of my life—wandering around Europe alone for a few months with my backpack—I grabbed a couple of paperbacks at a New York bookstore to be my companions for the trip.  As fate would have it, On The Road was first.  I read it as I sat along the canals in Amsterdam, fantasizing about Jack’s beatific world and the mysterious road ahead of me.  My soul was absolutely on fire!  This was an instant classic for me.

I find myself so happy and grateful as I think about these books.  They have done so much for me, and I feel completely humbled by their magnitude.  As someone who likes to share through the written word, I am, of course, jealous of the astounding ability of these authors.  What I see as the common thread running through the four works is a wonderful execution by the authors in reaching the very core elements of humanity, allowing us to see ourselves bare and real, in all our beautiful Truth.  That is why they make my list, and why they make me.

How about you?  Which books are on your list?  Which ones penetrate right to your core?  Are yours more fiction than mine?  Probably so, as even my fiction title is based on real people!  Can you find a common thread running through your books?  Do yours more often make you laugh, cry, or ponder?  I would LOVE to hear about your list and anything else book-related—this is such a pet topic for me—so please leave a reply.  Let’s talk books!  Tell me: which ones have touched you the deepest?

ALL of you is magnificent,

William