A couple of weeks ago, we stopped in a delightful little town on our way to Yellowstone National Park, Livingston, Montana. From the moment the Gate 1 Travel tour bus turned down that wide main street, I sat at attention. Everything looked so fresh, so clean and brand new. It could have been the early morning hour, or it could have been the train depot or the mountain vista. Whatever the reason, Livingston cast a spell on us, and we tumbled out of the bus, our minds set on soaking up the ambience of the area.
Following the lead of others in our merry band of travelers, we went to the Conoco station to get sandwiches and chips for a noon picnic in the park. While there, we were treated to a happy and quite animated dance by one of the employees. It was her birthday, and when her favorite tune came on the radio, she announced that since it was her birthday, it was okay to dance. What could we do except agree? Her joie de vivre set the tone for the rest of the day, and we were all smiles as we sauntered out to the sidewalk.
We saw others in our group coming out of a coffee shop with beverages, bagels, and cookies and decided we needed monster cookies for our picnic. Once inside, I passed on the oatmeal raisin cookie and opted for a Zinga bar. When I asked about the ingredients, the smiling employee slipping it into a bag laughed and said, “I really don’t know. A little bit of everything, I think—mangoes for sure.”
Once outside, we saw some youngish women wearing athleisure getting set up at a table to the right of the front door. As we walked by, they were getting themselves and their goodies situated, and their camaraderie added to our delight. Wouldn’t it be nice to have friends and a place to meet and share treats and conversation in the beautiful outdoors?
Fast forward to last Thursday’s writing group meeting.
At the meeting, a member shared some information about a book titled Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks. Since his comments were directed at something I had submitted for critique, I listened carefully and knew this information was something I could use and pass on to others. To me, the major takeaway was to take note of moments each day and record them later. Yes, I know that sounds obvious, but there’s more.
Writer, teacher, and speaker, Dicks found himself concentrating on the BIG moments of his life like getting robbed at gunpoint or having a near death experience, but he soon realized that he needed new material. He also realized that most people can’t identify with getting robbed, but they can identify with small moments that end up being meaningful in some way.
Dicks’ advice is to take a few minutes at the end of each day and jot down at least one moment that you want to remember. Later, a moment can be developed into a story, or several such moments could be fleshed out into something larger.
Just write the moments, making sure they’re your moments. Can you see a theme emerging? A lesson?
During the critique meeting at Books on Broad, I kept noticing some women sitting outside at a table near the front door. Until my writer friend shared the “moments advice” from Matthew Dicks, my observance of the conversation between the woman had been casual, something done in a peripheral, distanced kind of way. Suddenly, the moments came together.
I don’t have to be in Livingston, Montana to enjoy meeting with friends. There are no mountain views here, but there are lots of trees and lush greenness. There are outside places to dine, too. And who knows? Passersby could actually cruise by and think What a good time those people are having.
My lesson from remembering the Livingston moment and noticing the Camden one? To paraphrase Kathy Mattea’s song, I’ve been standing knee-deep in a river dying of thirst.
Think of some recent moments in your life. Is there a theme? A lesson?