30 Things: The Practice

by tjbeitelman

30 Things is a meditation. A practice of gratitude and love. At its most basic and heartfelt level, the practice is pretty simple:

  • Write a list of 30 Things You Love Right Now.

At first blush, it might not seem hard to come up with 30 Things You Love Right Now. But, you know, sometimes it really is. And if you try to do it on a semi-regular basis — especially if you try to come up with 30 NEW Things You Love Right Now — well, you’re constantly having to look at The Glass half-full. And you’re also having to ruminate on a lot of the things that have, of late, captured your imagination.

So it can be a challenge. A good challenge, but a challenge nonetheless.

The important thing to remember is there’s no wrong way to do a 30 Things.

“Right Now” is a fungible and/or multifarious concept. (You can do your 30 Things in one sitting or several.) As is “Love.” Hell: so’s “30,” though there is something strangely perfect about that number. It’s not insurmountable but it’s usually not easy either. Kind of like 90 feet between home plate and first base, or 14 lines and 140 syllables to a sonnet.

One other thing: It has been reported that, in the process of crafting a list of 30 Things, the problem/opportunity of Craft creeps in.

Which is to say: You’re just cruising along, minding your own business, making your mundane list (“…15. Blueberry Pop Tarts… 16. Pez candy… 17. Andrew Cuomo…”) and then, all of a sudden, #18 requires that you tell a story. Because it’s not so much a tangible thing but a feeling or an ambiguous experience. Or something. But it seems very important and, of course, you really love it, so it has to be in your list right now. So you get immersed in telling the story and you, you know, want to tell the story right, because it’s important, so you start really laboring over words and images (sounds, even!) and before you know it, you’re trying to make it good. Like, fit-for-public-consumption good.

But that wasn’t the point. It was just this pseudo-Spiritual Exercise or something. You’re not supposed to care if it’s good.

But, you know, yeah: sure you are. If you start caring to make it good, that’s awesome. Go for it. Make it good. 30 Things is secretly the awesomest creative form invented since, like, the sonnet or baseball or something.

BUT: you don’t have to make it good. You never have to make it good.

The genius of the 30 Things is its versatility. It can be a meditative exercise for you and only you (you never have to share your 30 Things if you don’t want to). Or it can be an art form in itself — or both. Or somewhere in between.

There’s no wrong way to do it.

That’s its genius.

So. Yes. Whenever one of us offers up a 30 Things in this space, you are always invited to offer up yours in the comments section. Or you don’t have to. As always: it’s up to you.