Thanksgiving Day 2: Grateful for great writing

Gregg Doyel didn’t have to share his depression, or the series of “dumb ideas” that are helping him, but he did.

And anyone who reads it is better for having done so.

“If you’ve never faced depression, whether yours or a loved one’s, congratulations. But don’t be mean and dismissive about the topic. Don’t be stupid.

Don’t be me.

About a decade ago an NBA player, Michael Beasley, announced he was suffering from depression. Expert that I was, I fired off a short blog post at CBSSports.com where I listed just a few things going for Beasley – fame and fortune – and concluded with the most ironic thing I’ve ever written: I’d love to be that depressed.

Some things, apparently, I have to experience to understand. Pineapple on pizza was one. Appendicitis was another. And so it goes for depression.”

It was so good, I wanted more, so I went to the two pieces of writing I always go to when I want to read something really good.

“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.

It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats.”

Those are the first two paragraphs of Marina Keegan’s “The Opposite of Loneliness” — which manages to share worry about losing what she had at Yale with excitement for the future and a reminder that she and her classmates are capable of so much.

She was 22. Days after her graduation, she died in a car accident.

“The Opposite of Loneliness” and a book of her writings by the same name released after her death are both wonderful writing.

Imagine what she was capable of.

“I was a year older than Sam, and the night before my graduation he sent one of the kindest e-mails of my life, all about how much he adored and believed in me. And really, though I had other close friends, there was something unique in Sam’s affection, a miraculous kind of blind spot: he always, unfailingly, thought that I was hilarious and wonderful, and that everything I wrote was brilliant. In the current age of social media, we all, of course, have the ability to publicly pretend we’re always hilarious and wonderful. But for someone to know the real you, the non-social-media you, the awkward and bad-jeans-wearing and years-away-from-publishing-novels you and still think you’re great, just as you are, is an extraordinary gift. And Sam’s inexplicably generous view of me never diminished. A few years ago, I attended a lecture at which the speaker recommended that people marry their biggest fan. Uh-oh, I thought. My biggest fan is Sam. When I expressed the sentiment to my husband, he laughed and said, ‘You should tell Sam that.’”

I don’t read fiction, so I had no idea who Curtis Sittenfeld was before I read “My Friend Sam.”

It had to have been something I saw shared either on Facebook or Twitter that I thought looked interesting, but I don’t remember, and I don’t know why I clicked the link.

What I do know is that everyone should have a friend like Sam Park, and I wish like hell I could write about the people I care about most the way Sittenfeld writes about him.

No one did. And no one has, although I’ve found great stuff on my own like this Ken Tremendous tribute to Tom Petty and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

On this Thanksgiving, there are many things I’m grateful for. My wife is a saint. Both of our families are near. My friends somehow manage to tolerate me when they don’t have to. I’m in good health.

That’s just to start.

And there is so much wonderful writing, art and music out there, the type that makes you forget everything else in life while you experience it.

3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Day 2: Grateful for great writing

  1. Pingback: The best thing I read on Valentine’s Day – Bill's Writing Place

  2. Pingback: How do you keep yourself sane? – Bill's Writing Place

  3. Pingback: #WhyIWrite – A Silly Place

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