I love my friends deeply. I’m closer to my friends than I am to certain members of my family. As I see it, friends are the family you get to select for yourself. One of my favorite things to do with friends is to discover stuff. A friend of mine dropped in from Canada recently, and we went to a restaurant I’d never gone to before. Then we went to a nightclub I didn’t know about and watched a band play that I’d never heard before. I even learned how to swing dance for the first time. We capped it off with a visit to a vintage candy store filled with the sorts of candy you remember from childhood. That was a wonderful, memorable evening.
I love music. It’s a big part of my creative side and is important to my writing process. I’m always looking for new music. As it happens, one of my best friends used to be a professional DJ, and one of our favorite things to do is to invite a close-knit group of friends over to drink, chat, and listen to music. There’s a little more to it, in that each guest has to bring music they enjoy and want to share—bonus points if it’s something wonderful the former DJ hasn’t heard before. We’ve made it into a game of sorts, and there’s a trick to it, of course. Whomever starts sets the tone and the speed of the set. The next person in line to play a song has to match either the tone, the beat, the speed, or the mood of the first song. And then the next person does the same with the previous song. The whole thing works out as if you were DJing in a club as a group. Transitions are important. Of course, because you’ve got a limited number of songs (the songs you brought with you) this can be a challenge. We start after dinner and go on late into the night. Anyway, it’s a lot of fun and great with a fire and good wine and cheeses. We keep the number of guests to five—any more than that and the logistics get complicated. It’s one of my favorite things to do with friends. And I always come away with new music I didn’t know about before.
Travel also brings me joy. My approach to it is to not plan specifically what I will do. I might have a few sights I’d like to see. (It’s good to start with an outline at least. Just in case.) I prefer to go with the wind as it were. I like to see what comes up. Be open. Travel used to stress me out, but the moment I adopted the “It’s an adventure. Whatever happens is what the Universe gifts to you. Listen. Look. Experience. Learn.” attitude was the moment that travel became particularly joyous. My trip to NYC, Northern Ireland, and England in 2015 was a magical time as a result. I saw so many things and met many wonderful people. I’ll treasure it forever. Travel reminds me that people are people wherever they’re from. It’s most exciting to see the world through the eyes of locals. Yes, a part of me doesn’t believe I’ve been somewhere unless I see the stereotypical sights—Big Ben for example. But once I get that out of the way, everything is grand—even if it’s a host’s favorite fast food restaurant. It doesn’t take much, really.
Of course, writing factors huge in the joy department as does art.