January 26, 2006 § Leave a comment
I find the whole scandal with James Frey and his book fascinating. Those of you who know me know how much I love this book, and I continue to love it to this very second, officially 4 minutes after I finished watching Oprah and a bunch of journalists talk about how embarrassed and annoyed they are about it. For those of you who don’t know, Frey is accused of, and has admitted to, embellishing (fabricating, lying) parts of the book, which was published as a non-fiction memoir. For example, instead of spending 3 years in jail, he was only there for a couple of hours. Which is a pretty decent exaggeration, I suppose.
My thoughts? Whoopee. And frankly, why do we care so much? Yes, I believe the truth is valuable, but perhaps only to a point. Should he have promoted the book as fact? No. Should he have issued some sort of a disclaimer in the beginning? Sure. But this is a book that has been an essential motivating factor in the recovery of literally thousands of addicts nation wide. Is James Frey a recovering addict? Yes. Were the facts about his addiction accurately represented in the novel? Apparently. Are the essential truths of the novel in tact? Yes. Do I think it matters if he wanted to stroke his own ego a little and exaggerate things? Not really. Probably not the best idea, especially in such a public forum, but I am yet to meet a human who doesn’t embellish his or her own life story, at least the details, a bit here and there. Especially not artists, for crying out loud. We’re all a bunch of sensationalists.
I’m reminded of Dumbo, the flying elephant, who didn’t believe he could fly. His mouse friend (whose name I never remember) told Dumbo that a magic feather would give him the ability to fly if he (coincidentally if you’ve read A Million Little Pieces) held on. So Dumbo holds on, and eventually discovers he can fly without the feather, and so on. Technically, the mouse lied to Dumbo, but that lie allowed him to accomplish something he would never have attempted otherwise. Now, granted, Frey’s motives are a bit more self serving (although I bet that mouse got a kick out of being best friends with the star of the circus). However, doesn’t his book accomplish the same sort of thing? His story provided inspiration for a whole bunch of people who may have otherwise remained un-inspired. I’d venture to say it saved some lives.
So which is better? A truth that allows people to remain hopeless and/or apathetic, or a lie that inspires them to greatness? I’m not sure I’m wise enough to say, but I will say this: Damn good book, James Frey. And I don’t care if you lied or told the truth or what. Thanks for the good read.
And good luck with the media firestorm. Hold on.
January 21, 2006 § Leave a comment
It occurred to me today, as I was closing out my stuff at work, how little credit I give to mini-miracles.
Those of you who are amused by my craziness will not be too surprised when I say that I believe there is a little bit of magic involved in choosing a wedding dress. I know, I know, but let’s think about it… there are 2000 dresses in our store alone, and thousands upon thousands in the city, and millions in the country, etc. etc. Yet somehow, 9 times out of 10, the right dress gets matched up to the right bride somewhere in the first 3 dresses she tries on. Many times, it’s the very first dress. Now, yes, it could be that the brides are just so excited to try something on that they fall in love with the first one they try, or that countless hours (and dollars) spent in magazines have helped them narrow their selection. It could be that I’m just that darn good at my job. It could be that ALL bridal consultants are just brilliant. It could be luck. I don’t think so. It happens too often to be luck and involves too little intellect to be skill. I think it’s magic.
Today I spent 45 minutes with a bride who had fallen in love with a dress at our store. A different consultant had misplaced her file, and we had no record of the dress she loved. She tried to describe it to me, and we looked everywhere we could, but to no avail. The dress simply wasn’t anywhere. I could tell she was on the verge of tears and went through my usual slapstick routine… humor, flattery, cookies, you name it… then suddenly, as she was standing there in a dress that looked nothing like the one she loved, I knew. And I walked right to a rack we had already checked twice, and I reached in, and I found it. You should have seen the look on her face when she recognized it. And we cried. And she bought it. And she raved about me to my boss. Happy ending.
Here’s the thing: I’m not that good. And I’ve never, ever been very lucky. I didn’t have anything to do with it. I had no reason to think of that dress, I didn’t really know why I went for it, but I knew it was the right one. Huh.
It may seem silly to suggest that God, in all of His cosmic power and responsibility, might have anything to do with something as trivial as a wedding dress. I choose to imagine that a God who is so often turned to for help and guidance in the worst times of our lives might like to dabble in the fun stuff. I’ll bet He gets an almighty kick out of making His little girls feel beautiful. It might be just a small miracle, but isn’t a God who revels in tiny miracles all the more beautiful than one who simply can’t be bothered? If God is really in the details, and speaks to us in whispers, who am I to say that any small wonder is insignificant? How lucky I am to be a part of little bits of magic. How silly I am to ignore them so much of the time.
I’m feeling blessed today to be witness to countless mini-miracles, and I’m going to try to pay more attention. Maybe it’s good old God magic, or maybe I’m just a nut… I’m not entirely sure it makes a difference. I’d like to think life is bettered just by believing in the first place. 😉