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The Happiness of Others

Posted Nov 07 2011 9:40am
 The Pilgrimage, Jean-Michel Basquiat

What higher joy than that which we take in another's good fortune? Here are four pieces of news that are giving me pleasure these days
1. Patrick Wang, the young actor-writer-director I've mentioned before in this space , has just received a glorious New York Times review for his first feature film (which was rejected by 30 festivals before premiering at the Hawaii International Film Festival last month). The Times critic Paul Brunick writes: "Mr. Wang’s slow-reveal psychological drama isn’t just a showcase for his excellent ensemble cast. Beautifully modulated and stylistically sui generis, “In the Family” is also one of the most accomplished and undersold directorial debuts this year...This is a career to keep an eye on."

2. Andrew Krivak, a friend whose first novel, The Sojourn , was similarly turned down by a long list of publishers before at last finding a home with the tiny Bellevue Literary Press, and who saw the book's arrival in the world last June greeted rather quietly and then seem to slip - as is the way with most literary fiction - into oblivion, received a tremendous piece of news last month when it was named one of five fiction finalists for the National Book Award .

3. Pam Ward is someone I've never met, but her recording the audiobook of The Grief of Others led to a brief, friendly email exchange. Then, just recently, I heard from her again
Dear Leah - We won a very important award 'Earphone' from Audiofile Magazine.  I feel a bit like an Oscar nominee - I'm being showered with congratulatory emails from all corners of my small universe.  But before I respond to any of them I have to talk with you.  This is my first 'Earphone' and I cannot adequately express my gratitude that it's for Grief.  My deepest concern since finishing the narration has been that my work was worthy of the the gift you gave me in the manuscript.  I'm sitting here with tears running down my face because it looks like it was! This award is for both the original material and the narration, so congratulations my friend. We did good.
(Isn't she generous, with her "we"?)

4. Finally, my friend Tina, an Episcopal priest who works with a homeless congregation through Ecclesia Ministries, the Boston Common street church, has just completed a four-day, fifty mile pilgrimage with members of the congregation, walking from St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston to a monastery in West Newbury. Yvonne Abraham, a Boston Globe columnist, tells the story movingly here .
Meanwhile, upon returning home, Tina herself wrote, "We're all back...with hearts full of god-love, and joy, and knowledge of the power of community, and - most of all - with great living streams of gratitude." And on the phone just now she added, "We had everything we could need. How often can you say that? To dwell in abundance..."

To dwell in abundance, indeed. Thank you, dear people, for the brave work you do, giving so much of yourselves to create good things, and for the ambient happiness it spreads.

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