As I sit in my fort made of blankets, I fleetingly feel what a shame it is that I’m not a photographer. I have Christmas lights strung along sheets of peach blossoms, some cupped with miniature flower shells as lamp shades. My globe glows a warm gold, and I can study the South Atlantic Ocean, or Africa divided into neat countries, or the southern tip of Europe. My watercolor moleskine rests alongside a glass of water and an Eiffel Tower statuette. Everything is very warm, shaded in soft whites or shades of yellow.
One of my 101 goals was to take one photograph every day. This had obviously failed around the third time I broke my camera.
By photographing every day, I had wanted to understand photography. And although I still ache to comprehend the beautiful cameras gifted to me last summer, I know now that I will never be a photographer. Instead, the perfection I had wished to capture is now realized by simply stopping.
Tonight, instead of compulsively photographing every corner of my hideaway, I’m listening to Damien as an owl coos outside my window. I feel the black night whispering through my shades, and note the roughness of a pillow against my sore elbow. Sometimes, I feel remnants of sand from tonight’s trip to the Meer brush from my skin. I can smell the salt, mixing sweetly with the night breeze. The owl coos.
Breaking my camera three times and failing goal forty gave me something better than a slew of bad pictures. It taught me to breathe, even if just for a moment.
11. Watch 100 movies.
Of those I had never before seen, the best ten:
- Howards End, 1992
- Wristcutters: A Love Story, 2006
- The Shawshank Redemption, 1994
- Monster’s Ball, 2001
- (500) Days of Summer, 2009
- Punch Drunk Love, 2002
- Four Minutes (Vier Minuten), 2006
- Bright Star, 2009
- Gladiator, 2000
- Footloose, 1984
And three runners-up:
- Barfuss, 2005
- Phoebe in Wonderland, 2008
- Up In The Air, 2009
The worst ten:
- Schläfer, 2005
- The Time Traveler’s Wife, 2009
- Latter Days, 2003
- Serendipity, 2001
- Schultze Gets the Blues, 2003
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, 2009
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937
- Bride Wars, 2009
- How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, 2008
- The Ugly Truth, 2009
And, of course, the ten most memorable:
- (500) Days of Summer, 2009 - seen 5 times
- Labyrinth, 1986
- Latter Days, 2003
- 10 Things I Hate About You, 1999 - seen thrice
- Grizzly Man, 2005
- Food, Inc., 2008
- Zoolander, 2001 - seen twice
- Barfuss, 2005 - seen 3 times
- The Hangover, 2009 - seen twice
- Romeo + Juliet, 1996
nom nom, off to watch more movies now.
43. Walk through a graveyard and fix every flag touching the ground.
Graveyards are reminders of from where and whom we came.
By “a” graveyard, I meant “my” graveyard, where I’ve spent days contemplating worth, existence, and goodness. It’s a beautiful place, with cast-iron gates opening onto a dirt road, everything weathered and soft and covered in vines. The cemetery is most poignant in the springtime, because it is unselfishly gorgeous. A creek murmurs deep in the trees.
I usually rest in the cemetery after my first mile of running, and today was no exception. Rain poured from the sky, and I arrived barefoot at the gates for the first time in eight months. Flags fresh from Memorial Day and soaked in rainfall greeted me and I thought, tonight…why not try for wish forty-three?
I went for two hours barefoot through the rain, placing my hand over my heart, resting it then on a grave with a flag, wondering how much of my thanks would carry from my skin to the grave. With each flag, I realized more deeply how I never understood war, even when I thought I did.
When dusk began to fall and the rained calmed to a drizzle, I looked up from a particularly special plot to see that the sky had broken open. I stared at the pink scar in the sky, my hand still giving my thanks into eternity.
I hope that these soldiers had lives filled with this glory, and that current servicemen and women experience moments of such eternal peace. I hope somewhere, some soul can hear my thanks.
I found only three or four flags touching the ground, but they broke my heart. The cemetery has over a thousand graves; I’ll return soon to continue my prayer.