Lin Manuel Miranda and the Stories We Tell

Lin Manuel Miranda’s a gorram inspiration.

Don’t believe me? Check out his U Penn Commencement speech—I can wait; it’s only roughly 15 minutes.

Done? Excellent.

The key takeaway there is that we are all living our Great Stories…but only if we’re willing to.

It’s all too easy to hold on to other stories, narratives that have been sold to us throughout our lives, plots we liked but didn’t quite fit in. It’s easier to settle for a “good enough” and not go with “exactly what I want” when it comes along.

Being part of a story’s easy, my friends. But being the story? That’s harder.

What do you want to say? What do you want to be remembered for? What will be your legacy?

What rings truest for you?

Believe me, it’s going to be big and spectacular whether it’s focused on your career or family or hobbies. There’s a genre for everything, despite what you think. What matters is how YOU tell it&mdashto both yourself and other people.

Oh, there will be lulls. Most certainly, there will be. But what counts it taking your shot when the opportunity comes along.

What counts is listening to your own story. To paraphrase Mr. Miranda:

“No one can play that role but you.”

So act like it.

Two Poems on the Elements

Reading in Between_Earth and Air Poems

Note: As mentioned previously, I will be posting two poems today to make up for the lack of poems last week. These mini-poems are the result of some exercises I’ll be asking people on my Fun Fundamentals of Poetry class to perform (which will hopefully help them gain confidence in writing their own poems). Hope you like them!


 Earth Poem: 

Reading in Between_Earth Poem

Air Poem:

ReadinginBetween_Air Poem

Salad Days

ReadinginBetween_Salad Days

I think of these days as my salad days. You know, that time when you’re the best you’ll ever be? That period in your life when you feel like every dang thing you touch will turn into gold (if not all-out platinum)? Your heydays?

ReadinginBetween_Salad Days

Usually, salad days are recognized in retrospect; we only think of them as the best time EVER in hindsight. “Back in the day,” we might say, “we used to be able to write something like 10,000 coherent words per week, and edit while drunk on gin pomelo.”*

But why do we do this? Why approach the concept of these wonderfully amazing and productive days as something that has gone past, as something we don’t have anymore? Why think of this time as the time we’ve lost? Why think of this with so much regret?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years (with the help of other people and various books), it’s that the past only looks good because time has covered it up and smoothed its edges. I’m willing to bet that when said past was still the present, it had the same horrible jagged corners that we’re still dealing with now. We just think the ones today are worse because they’re more immediate.

So I figured:

Wouldn’t it be better to just think of TODAY as a salad day? Wouldn’t it be amazing to think of every day of my life as the time when I’m at the top of my proverbial game? Imagine the confidence boost! Imagine what I, or anyone else can do with this kind of self-assurance!

Really, think about it—if you think you’re the best version you can be of yourself TODAY, what can you do? What will you do? And what’s to stop you from doing it?

Whatever it is, recognize that it doesn’t have to be a big thing and it doesn’t have to be for just ONE aspect of your life. Today, I’m having a salad day for blogging. Last Sunday, I was having a cat mom salad day.** Tomorrow’s going to be a completely different salad, I’m sure.

No matter what happens, though, I know my salad days will always be fresh and green and interesting because everyday is an awesome salad day. As the Great Master Oogway once said: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”

* Elea’s note: this actually happened back in college, and these days I can barely stay awake after a spoonful of rum without it being helped along with caffeine—oh, how the times have changed!

** Another note from Elea: Yes, I rescued another one—

ReadinginBetween_TP the Kitty

(this little guy’s tentative name is TP). He joins the other recently-chronicled rescue kitties—

ReadinginBetween_Babu and Pieta

What? I never denied being a crazy cat lady!