Book of the Month

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How To Keep Life Simple

My son and I sat down after dinner in his cozy little house on the beach and decided to watch Marley & Me starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston. It really was a simple kind of movie--no plot actually, just a sweet guy and the love for his wife, kids and Marley of course--a Labradoodle. At least, I think that's what he was.

But let me back up a little just to show how simple my own life is even though I've gone through a divorce, just started a publishing business, and am experiencing the empty nest syndrome. Simple gives much joy, like John Grogan learned (from what I perceived).

Morning in the desert began with heavy showers and snowfall upon the mountain behind us. Honestly, I thought the water would reach inside the house this time and the mist of the mountain engulf us. But the rain stopped and only managed to cover plant life. The clouds drifted off and made the mountains visible again. Son was still sleeping when the clock struck twelve noon. He didn't seem to worry that we had furniture and other items to pack into the car and drive him home to Huntington Beach. I decided to just let him sleep and hoped things would get done in time.

Finally on the road around 5pm, after Daughter had been calling a few times to make sure we would get back to HB before dark. Not much chance of that. Son packed up his drums, a mattress, a wooden table, an end table and some groceries. Nice packing job. My car is way bigger than anyone thought. Mini Vans rule!!

We got to HB home around 7:45 and immediately started cleaning house. Boxes everywhere!! And . . . someone parked their little Mini Coup in our driveway. Not cool. We parked in front of Son's house and consequently received a parking violation ticket from HBPD. I decided not to get mad and hunt down the owner of that coupe . . . IN LOVE!!!!!

In any case, we munched on something that pretended to be dinner, popped a few bags of microwave popcorn, pulled up the ottoman, fluffled up pillows, wrapped ourselves in blankets and turned on the Blue Ray player to watch Marley & Me. I still don't know what Blue Ray is.

So here's the gist of the movie (and I'm ashamed to say that I have not finished the book). John marries Jennie, a beautiful and wonderful girl. Even a blizzard cannot take away the her joy on the day of her wedding. So you can imagine how nice she is. John soon takes her to a farm of doggies (because he doesn't think he's ready for children) and they pick out the cute runt of the litter (Clearance Puppy is what Jennie called him), Marley. Of course, Marley is like the worst dog ever. He destroyed furniture, jumped out of the car while driving on the freeway/main street, swallowed precious jewelry, pooped out precious jewelry, and was even kicked out of obedience school. Marley was always on the go, never had time to sit still.

A touching moment came when Jennie had lost her first baby and Marley sat still in front of her. Marley could feel her pain. Tissue time.

Back to my life. When I woke up this morning I ran into my daughter who was having breakfast. She only had a few minutes before she left for Big Bear (I'm thinking it was Vegas). I thanked her for my Christmas gift, which was the Marley and Me DVD and we had a chance to talk about the movie. Wow, here's my analysis.

John and Jennie were such simple people but they wound up making pretty good money. Yet, they managed to keep it simple. John's friend seemed to be living John's dream life. I think John's friend (sorry the name escapes me) was lonely and his dream job wasn't making him happy. But he pretended it did. He had no wife, no family, not even a dog, no responsibilities. Pretty lonely if you ask me.

Marley was the part of John and Jennie's chaos we like to call unconditional love. He was a bad dog, disobedient but didn't care if you were rich or poor. Love was what he was concerned about. Not only that they would love him but that he (Marley) could love them whatever life's situation was.

John became a columnist, in which Marley became the star. But John still thought he wanted to be a "real" journalist, traveling to exotic countries and covering wars and other catastrophes. In his forties he finally gets his chance in Philly. But there he learns that he loved being a columnist. Go figure. He was happy all along but didn't know it.

And, of course, all through life's decisions there's this dog, this loveable destroyer Labradoodle, who was a part of everything. He even waited for the kids where the school bus dropped them off. Ah, the simple life.

The simpleness? He wrote about what he knew and loved . . . his wife, his kids, his dog. And it brought him success and priceless life lessons. So, from John Grogan to me. Keep it simple, love the people in your life, even the ones who are hard to love and write about what you know and love. It's a beautiful day.

Debby A.


illustrations by Pearson Scott Foresman

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