Living A More Celebratory Life
I have said before that I am a huge fan of celebrations for any reason whatsoever. The way I see it, it’s kind of like toasting a good event. Like how, at a wedding, everyone drinks to the health of the new couple, I think that when excellent things happen, you should honor them. Gratitude is an important part of life. If you’re satisfied with where you are, it will propel you on to greater things. It will raise your overall happiness quotient. Taking the time to celebrate helps this.
You can base your joviality around small things, like getting a job interview, being complimented by a stranger, finishing the first draft of a short story or finally deciding what colour to paint your bedroom. Or you can make it a little bit more structured & themed.
Here are some days I celebrate: the how & the why.
January 23rd: Salvador Dali‘s death.
Why? Because he is my fantasy husband. Because he had an amazing moustache. Because he constantly said amazing things.
How? He is quoted as having said, “Drink to me” on his deathbed. You might as well honor his request. Cut out pictures of elephants. Smash a clock. Sleep underneath a rose bush. Try one of his creative processes, the one-second dream. He would sit in a chair with the handle of a teaspoon held very lightly between thumb & forefinger, with a plate directly below it on the floor. He would close his eyes & let himself drift to sleep, but as soon as sleep set in, his muscles would release the teaspoon, making a clattering noise which would jolt him awake again. He often drew inspiration from these mini-dreams.
April 22nd: Vladimir Nabokov‘s birthday
Why? Because he wrote my favourite book (Lolita), an incredible feast of word play all written in impeccable style, which still causes controversy to this day.
How? Go to a butterfly exhibition (he was a huge butterfly enthusiast). Learn a new word from the dictionary. Woo someone thirty years your senior (or junior). Refer to your lover as “Hum”. Wear heart-shaped sunglasses.
July 18th: Hunter S. Thompson‘s birthday
Why? Because he is the greatest journalist the world has ever seen & he successfully merged journalism with incredible story-telling.
How? Oh, come on. You don’t need my suggestions, do you? Apart from the obvious: Wear a hawaiian shirt. Buy a cigarette holder. Wear aviators. Get your gun license. Drink Wild Turkey & listen to ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ by The Rolling Stones or ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane.
August 16th: Charles Bukowski‘s birthday
Why? Because even though he was the “working man’s poet”, he was still able to appreciate the beauty around him. Because he didn’t start writing poetry until he was 35. Because he managed to turn the most boring job ever into compelling reading.
How? Listen to classical music (his favourite composers were Mahler, Handel, Bach, Haydn & Mozart — more on that here). Go to the horse races. Get drunk in the afternoon in an undershirt, in front of your typewriter. Write a poem about your lover’s ass.
October 14th: e.e. cummings‘ birthday
Why? Because he wrote this & this. Because I am convinced that if everyone read a poem by him every morning that the world would be a better place.
How? dont capitalise or use punctuation ,, think fondly of paris
Everyone has their own list of idols. Most of mine happen to be writers, probably because it is the craft I respect the most (followed by musicians). Work out who yours are: make a list.
There are a lot of ways to honor various people — you can listen to their music, read their words aloud, look at their photographs, think about how you could emulate them in some small way, celebrate the city they lived in, find out more about them, hang their picture in your sitting room. Have a party in their honor — put their photo on the invitation (depict them as, say, “Saint Hunter”), play their favourite music, invite your friends around to drink said hero’s favourite tipple & toast to them multiple times.
Holding a celebration on their birthday is an easy way of doing things, but it’s not imperative. (If you’re having a dull month, google for “famous events in (month)”.) Anyway, you can revel whenever you feel like it. It doesn’t need to be a big occasion either. Drink black coffee & listen to Billie Holiday, go to an exhibition of your favourite living painter & then write them a letter, “go out & sit on the lawn & do nothing, ’cause it’s just what you must do, & nobody does it anymore” while listening to Fiona Apple on your Ipod. You get the idea.
I suggest writing the birthdays of your favourite people in your Moleskine (diary, calendar, whatever) so you have time to think about the various ways in which you can glorify them. Every year, my birthday ends up being a celebration of Roald Dahl & Fiona Apple too, since we all share the day! Find out who has the same birthday as you, your lover, your best friend, your parents, & make the day even more special. It gives you another excuse to be even more extravagant… like you needed one!
There is no reason why every day should be meaningless & exactly like the one before it. Your life will be much better if you take time out to do things which are frivolous & silly. These things don’t have to be expensive or involve hundreds of people — the only thing that matters is that it makes you happy.