Monday, March 16, 2009

"You haven't lived until you've..."

I have finished my book. Yes, I have actually finished finished Dreyton! Believe it or not, there will not be a twenty-fourth effort to rewrite the entire project. I will not make another attempt to give any one character greater depth, or to enhance a subplot or two. No, this book has been completed, and now it’s time for me to consider my options for its future.

I am really excited about having done this, having finished something that has taken me so many years to perfect. In fact, my very first thought was to write a blog entry about the meticulous effort that I put into bringing this story into fruition over the years. I truly never thought that I could finish it, and so, when I penned the last words of Chapter Ten, Rubble, I thought this to myself: you haven’t lived until you’ve written something as deliberately challenging and literarily engaging as a novel, because once you are done, you realize that, with the right discipline, anything in the world is humanly possible…While I could easily go on and on about how this makes me feel—but why would I bother? Most people who know me also know the story of this book, and they have been subjugated, however unwillingly (LOL), to critiquing its excerpts. Consequently, while I am very excited, there is no need to bore you. Instead, though, I wanted to go back to that finishing thought.

“You haven’t lived until you’ve…” That seems like such a simple thing to say. I mean, in uttering it, you are telling someone that they should partake in some moment, some place, or some thing, in order to truly have a life-affirming experience. It is an overwhelming, personal endorsement, and so, for each of us, obviously, this sentence would end in radically different ways. Understanding this fact, I wanted to dedicate one of my posts to just that—the different ways people who I know would finish this sentence. Here are some of their responses:

Jonathan M. (Lafayette, La.) “…given. I truly believe that the greatest most fulling moments in our life come from the satisfaction of giving. And it’s not about writing a big check to some charity or cause (although that can surely be part of it), but giving is so much more than that and the opportunities to give so abundant in our everyday lives. Sure most of us give money to charity and tithe according to our spiritual beliefs, but often the most fulfilling is giving of our time and attention. Simple things like preparing a dinner for our family or friends, taking the time to bring your or other children to the zoo, [or] volunteering for a worthy cause are just a few examples.”

Mark C. (Lafayette, La.) “…served your country, got a degree, traveled the world, found a soul mate, and tried to make Gary understand why he really doesn't like Obama, all at the same time. There are so many things we could bring up on past experiences, but I believe the ulimate past, present, and future experience and never ending journey is knowing and understanding God. Everything else is put into perspective after that.”

Philip C. (Toronto, Canada): “…been here. I guess when most people think Toronto, they think cold. That’s true. Fortunately, it’s more than that, though. Toronto is a very modern city; it’s clean, it’s progressive, and it’s really a place for the world comes together. Think New York City, but smaller.”

Elvis D. (Arlington, TX): “…loved, because living without love is like living without purpose. Whether it’s love for your family, the people around you, or loving God—all that good stuff. Without love there’s no drive.”

Jason C. (Houma, La.): “...had an original thought.”

Bridget H. (New Orleans, La.): “…been to London, rode the tube and eaten that weird sausage.”

Joseph D. (Tucson, AZ): “…read The Catcher in the Rye. That’s a book that I know [Gary] never read, and never understood why not. And my favorite line: ‘If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she’s late? Nobody.’”

Justin A. (St. Charles, La.): “…coached little-league soccer. Seriously, it’s awesome to be a role model and a good, positive influence on young people.”

Adam P. (New Orleans, La.): “…fished in the Florida Keys and paused to soak in the amazing sunset.”

Michael C. (Laguna Hills, CA): “…gotten drunk in Anaheim and woke up a day later in hotel on Catalina Island with a chick whose face is barely familiar. Then you realize that the night’s charges on your [American Express card] are more than next month’s paycheck.”

Alexis L. (Belle Chasse, La.): “…danced. It’s just so much about passion, about feeling and expression.”

Digger M. (Las Vegas, NV): “…packed up everything you’ve own and moved to a place you don’t really know much about. Starting over has to be the most life-affirming thing for me.”

Eddie F. (Chalmette, La.): “… found yourself in the truly wonderful position of having made a positive difference in someone's life. The feeling of having done something good for someone tops everything else.”

Tray B. (New York, NY): “…conducted an orchestra. You have sixty to 100 people in front of you, and literally no one moves until you do. You have such direct control. It’s like shaping physical properties with your hands. It’s really the closest thing to having a superpower.”

Garret G. (Destrehan, La.): “…received the Holy Ghost. I was not raised in a tradition that embraced the gift of the spirit. I was overwhelmed; I was crying and shaking.”

Kayla C. (Houma, La.): “…parasailed! I was so scared, at first, but then it was so exciting. I felt like I was floating on air.”

Troy M. (Houma, La.): “…heard Anna Nalick sing Breathe in concert. Beautiful song.”

Kevin R. (Washington, D.C.): “…quit your job with absolutely no direction.”

Jovan L. (Thibodaux, La.): “…eaten the steamed salmon at Lin’s (in Thibodaux) and my friend Chelsea’s confetti cake…But I don’t live much, because I am an athletic trainer.”

Trussman B. (Metairie, La.): “…worked, because you need an income to make it.”

Clark C. (New Orleans, La.): "...visited New Orleans."

Gregory L. (Bellefontaine, OH): “…gone to the Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues in New Orleans, on Sunday morning, while having never gone home from your Saturday night out.”

Robbie S. (Franklin, La.): “…driven a Bugatti Veyron. Yes, it’s a nice car, but a million dollars nice? Well, not really.”

Mashoud R. (Parsippany, NJ): “…gotten up one day after you’ve been laid off and depressed, and just decided that it’s time to take control of your own future. I always figured that I had real talents, but for years I looked to other people to validate that. That was safer, seemed more secure. So when my cush, Wall Street job got axed, I started feeling like I was nothing and like no one wanted me. Then today I got out of bed, realized that what I was doing to make others wealthy I could do on my own—and I decided that I am going to start my own business. There is nothing in the world like taking this risk, trust me.”

Devin M. (Metairie, La.): “…failed at something, and have had to pick yourself back up.”

Erin C. (Houma, La.): “…ridden in a Mardi Gras parade and seen the joy on a kid’s face as you throw him stuff.”

Adam N. (Prichard, AL.): “…hiked in the Austrian Alps and visited the Serengeti.”

Lance D. (Assumption, La.): “…taken your kids to Disney World.”

Stephen F. (Houma, La.) “…read Rich Dad, Poor Dad.”

Mary Harrell (Tylertown, MS): “…died spiritually. Our selfish natures have to die in order for us to see the true meaning of God and our purpose. At that point, we come to understand that our lives really do have meaning.”


Mashoud said...

These are all great, Gary. Very encouraging stuff. I also noticed how you left off my last sentence thanking you for the support. Well, I am going to say it again. "Thank you for the personal encouragement, Gary Harrell; your words helped me believe in myself on this big day." Now you better not delete it from my comments, bro.

Taylor L. said...

I could not think of anything because my life is so boring, I guess. But for some reason, Mike, I don't think yours is living, either. Hah! Love you, anyways.

Cedrick said...

Congratulations on finishing the book! When do we pop the corks? We cannot wait to buy it and hear people say crap like "best-selling author Gary Harrell" or "the hit mini-series Dreyton".

John said...

So I know you hate me for not writing something, but it would have seemed silly what I wanted to say. All of these people have so many good life-experiences too. Good job for coming up with the idea for helping share them. I'll participate the next time you do a sound-off like this. You will do another, right?

Anonymous said...

Cool post, G. Harrell. Just too bad that everytime you go to do something now some folks are not going to let you forget your politics.

Anyway. Look, I thought we had until Friday for this one, and so I was still thinking about it. Well here's mine:

"You haven't lived until you've sat down for one hour or so with Gary Harrell and talked to him about business, the world, faith and the future. Literally, that changed me more that you could ever know."

Lata, dude. Be safe in that town.

Josaiah E. Hawkins

Jonathan B. Melancon said...

Josaiah, I agree with you. Its too bad some have to inject politics when this discussion has absolutely nothing to do with politics. In fact, outside of the political snipe, my friend Mark had a really good answer but that all gets lost because he had to take a shot.

Since he's a real good friend of mine, I actually emailed him and let him know that I felt his comment was uncalled for in the context of the discussion. He replied that he was just kidding around and I don't think he realized those comments would be seen by anyone else besides Gary and maybe a friend or two.

Either way, it was in poor taste.

nick bailey said...

that car really cost a million dollar????

mike carson said...

Taylor, you are just jealous that I was not with you, baby. HA! HA!

Taylor Lambert said...

Ewww! That's gross, Mike!!!

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