In Farsi, I'm told the word most often translated into favorite doesn't necessarily connote the stipulation of a single choice. You can have more than one favorite. The corresponding term is simply used in reference to an item you hold in exceptionally high regard.
It is only in that light I can allow myself to accept the impossibly high compliment offered by this article's title. Of course I'm not the single nicest guy in the Seattle. (That would be the guy who hugs the other guy in this story.) But I'll allow myself to entertain the idea that I'm one of many, and before you start calling me the Mr. Rogers of Seattle, I can reel off at least five people I know personally who are more deserving of that title.
But isn't that what we want? To be surrounded by good examples? I was once told we become most like the five people we hang around the most. I'm so thankful to know the people who have shaped me into who and what I am. They're the ones who really deserve the credit. I may be gregarious now, but I was once very shy, and there's a part of me that will always be the quiet, introverted child on the sidelines, observing, taking in how people behave and considering what it all could mean. I imagine most people have these sorts of internal reflections, and similarly come to their own unspoken life conclusions.
I write mine down in blogs and books and screenplays and photographs, and I'm grateful anyone cares enough to listen; it would be adequate– more than adequate– simply to bear witness to an experience this beautiful, a life colored with this many giants, from the strangers I've met to my best friends, from lovers to parents to teachers to colleagues whose names I've forgotten, but whose wisdom and life force I'll carry through to the end of my days. The conversations after a shift, in between events, walking out to the car and before you know it you've been standing in the parking lot together for a half hour, connecting on a plane outside of time.
That's what living is.
This blog and the book stemming from it now contain records of moments like those numbering in the thousands. They document moments which are by and large not flashy, sexy, suspenseful, or otherwise extraordinary. Their exceptional nature is simply that they are. In a culture where only what is extreme is allowed to be interesting, I have the incredible and ridiculous luxury of having as my inspiration what gets passed over by most everyone else: the entire rest of life. My subject matter is unique not because it's unusual, but because no one else writes about it.
Nicest is up for debate. But I'm pretty sure I'm the luckiest guy in Seattle. And you won't find me more grateful than every morning I get to rise up and do it all over again.
Seattle Review of Book's Literary Event of the Week takes place tomorrow: Susanna Ryan and Nathan Vass in conversation. Hope to see you there.