Things Behind The Sun

This has not been my favorite year. I’ve had some major lows, and a dearth of real highs. But I was digging through The Daily Journal in an attempt to assemble a Top Ten Moments of 2004, when I made a fairly major discovery. It’s not the big moments that change your life. It’s the little ones.

There have been dozens of them this year, most of which are scarcely worth noting. Like I said, little moments: sunrise over Malibu, running with the dolphins in Naples, shooting stars in Nantucket, sunset over The Upper West, the hammock in my mom’s backyard, Ethan gathering armloads of blocks, standing still on stage at the “Love & Other Indoor Games” release. They’re tiny, beautiful moments. And they’re fleeting. There are no fireworks, no billboards, no record deals, marriage proposals, raises or paychecks. They’re just these small instances when everything is all right, and everything is going to be fine.

I had one of those nice little moments last night. It was a particularly grueling Tuesday, one punctuated by the boss’ displeasure with a recent project, projections for an overwhelming workload in ’05, and some after work drama that saw a recovering alcoholic acquaintance of mine relapsing. I decided on the long, cold walk home that it would be sushi and Sapporo night, a small perk to end a tough day. I walked into my chilly, furniture less apartment, dropped some of my layers, and climbed the spiral staircase to my bedroom to check my email. There was one measly email. It read:

We’re writing with good news! It’s taken us a lot longer than we thought to wrap up the layout and artwork for “To Do.” Thanks for your patience. We’re happy to say your story has made the final cut of submissions to appear in the book. We’re really pleased to have it as one of the handful of selections included in the ‘Roots’ chapter.

My friend Ron Lieber suggested long ago that I submit my “Mr. Rogers & Me” story to this compilation some Brits were putting together called, “To Do Before I Die.” Most of the authors had written thing like “Climb a mountain” or “Release a record” — goals they’d long carried and finally accomplished.

Meeting Mister Rogers was never a lifelong goal for me. No, his arrival in my life more serendipitous than that. He arrived just in time (though he certainly left too early). Still, with a little editing, the story fit their criteria. More importantly, I saw it as an opportunity to meet Mister Roger’s challenge to “spread the deep and simple message.”

Next year, when the book is published by actual, credible imprint Little, Brown & Co. (the little things, nice huh?), and when we (hopefully) do some readings, well, that’s just that many more people who are going to be touched by this man — my hero’s — small, simple message. Which, come to think of it, isn’t such a little thing after all.

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