Do Something Incredible with Your Life

On my search for stationary this past weekend, I passed the guy who has been traveling the country playing his piano.

Wait, let me back up. First off, I’m searching for stationary. I have a letter to send. Not a card. Not an email. Not a text.

A letter.

A letter that I need to write and mail to someone, on stationary, with a stamp. And I’ve been all over this city searching for stationary, in stores that call themselves STATIONARY stores and all I find are printable invites and fancy cards with little heart-shaped pieces of lace embossed on them and packages of thank you notes and Christmas cards and ornaments (yes, ornaments) but no stationary. And when I ask the clerk they get a funny little look – the mouth screws up, the eyebrows nearly dance off the face in quizzical delight as the brain tries, often in vain, to process this strange request.

Stationary? Whatever for? they think. Who writes letters?

And that’s just it isn’t it? We don’t write letters. We’ve moved beyond letters. Because letters take time and thought and we don’t have either of those left in this world. Letters mean that you sat down one day, with no distractions and in the neatest penmanship you could muster you told someone something so important, so dear, so magical that it couldn’t be contained by an email or shoved into the limited parameters of a card. It was something that could only be expressed by pressing ink to paper and leaving an indelible stain.

Do they even teach cursive anymore? To be fair, mine is pretty horrid, but still, I can do it.

Maybe it’s because I’m a journal-er that I find this such an affront to basic humanity. I’ve kept a journal pretty consistently since I was 8.

Here’s a few on the shelves over my desk.

journals, journals, everywhere but not a drop to drink.

Most are packed away in boxes.

All the same, I do not fear the hand cramp. And neither should you, gentle reader.

We’ve killed letter-writing and it’s a terrible terrible thing. Now, that said, a friend of mine just pointed out a shop I missed in Union Square and I’m thrilled because I do believe that there I will find what I’m looking for.  (Got that U2 song in your head didn’t I? Snicker, snicker.)

So as I was saying, on my hunt for stationary I passed the man who has been playing his piano all across America. His name is Dotan Negrin. Here he is at his piano.

That’s from his website. Please don’t sue me, Dotan, because I think what you are doing is fantastic and important and truly artistic. I would have snapped a picture myself but I don’t have one of those newfangled smart phones all the kids are talking ’bout.

You can read more about Dotan and what’s doing here: Piano Across America

It’s a truly great story and on the back of Dotan’s piano he has  a map of the US tracing his route across it, much like the one I have in my bedroom from my cross-country trip in 2007.

I think everyone and I mean everyone (not even just Americans) should travel from one coast to the other. It will undoubtedly change your opinions about what this land is really like, who we are as a nation, and who we could be. It will possible also change your entire perspective if not your life. For all the traveling I’ve done, it’s by far my most treasured journey. If I close my eyes I can still tell you exactly what the Mississippi reeds  smell like in New Orleans (high and light grainy like grass but muddy and earthen and magical too) and the exact shade of blue  that paints the utterly touchable Wyoming sky (a blend of ultramarine and egyptian with a hint of blueberry.)

That said, Dotan has a sign on his piano that says, “Do something incredible with your life.”

And that makes me smile. I’m trying, Dotan. I’m trying.

Happy Thanksgiving, kids. Eat, drink, be merry. And this coming year, Do Something Incredible with Your Life.

By Ally Malinenko

I live in Brooklyn which is good except when it’s not which is horrid. I’ve been writing for awhile, and have some stuff published and some stuff not. I don’t like when people refer to pets as their children and I can’t resist a handful of cheez-its when offered. I have a burning desire to go to Antarctica, specifically to the South Pole so I can see where Robert Falcon Scott died. I like to read books. I like to write stories and poems. I even wrote some novels. You can read them.

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