An exercise in perspective

It’s not often that I write here about a story I’ve written elsewhere. It’s also not often I write a story that alters one of my fundamental beliefs. And thus, I must share. Mostly because it’s reminded me how important it is, as a person and a writer, to view the world in all its dimensions, rather than categorize things and people as “good” or “bad.”
I was recently assigned a story about a city that has no traditional downtown, but is working to make its commercial area more walkable, urban and appealing to residents. As a development nerd, I’ve long believed downtowns are good and sprawl is bad. I’ve scorned cities that are just miles of big box stores and parking lots, believing they should receive no help from government, big ideas from planners or love from people. They are the bad places, and downtowns are the good. Southgate, by this definition, was one of the bad places.

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Making Your Mark: How do you know what you’re doing matters?

This tweet floated past me earlier today and caused me to pause mid-scroll:

https://twitter.com/FastCompany/status/428570261605351424

The full quote from actor and comedian Aziz Ansari, which I found when clicking through to FastCompany is, “I just want to produce one movie that makes a mark–like Will Ferrell with Anchorman, or Judd and Steve Carell with the 40-Year-Old Virgin–so no matter what happens, I can say, ‘That really captured my voice. That’s the kind of comedy I was trying to do.”

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Tiny celebrations for tiny victories. Super tiny.

About 20 minutes ago, for the first time since about Saturday afternoon, I felt caught up. Not finished for the day. Not ahead. Just not drowning. I celebrated by brushing my teeth. I’ve got big plans to take the party grocery shopping in a few minutes (seriously, I’m sort of passionate about grocery shopping. Super pumped about it). After that I’ll buckle down and doggie paddle through the rest of the day.

I don’t mention this to enter the I’m-busier-than-you fray, because I abhor the glorification of busyness. I feel lucky to be having a busy month, but I have slow months too, and moderately-paced months. I mention it because I believe in the power of celebrating tiny victories. In fact, I think it’s a necessity. Too often we’re so focused on long term goals – buying the house, paying off the student loans, getting the big break, winning at life – that we wait too long between celebrations. And it’s exhausting to be always toiling and never celebrating. Celebrating is fun. If we’re not finding reasons to celebrate, even tiny ones, then what are we doing with our lives, people?

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