I hate it when people start presentations by defining a word or phrase from the dictionary. You know, shit like “Webster defines unimaginative as a person who starts his presentations with dictionary definitions.”
To be fair, I don’t hate those people. Hell, I don’t even know most of them. I’m sure they have wonderful imaginations that simply escape them at the very moment they need to begin their presentations or speeches. I just think there are better ways to get to what a word or phrase really means. Ways like… oh, I don’t know, asking people what it means to them. But I’ll get to that in a minute. Right now, let’s get back to my word.
Remarkable. Third grade me would’ve defined that word as “something worth making remarks about.” Over the years, my definition has included these events (and many more, too numerous to mention):
Clearly, the word remarkable has range like DeNiro. It can be scary as shit, like when he played that whacko superfan in the Wesley Snipes movie. What was that? I forget. It can be wildly inappropriate (but still hilarious) like in Bad Grandpa. And it can be a simple “everything’s gonna be okay” vibe, like the one he gives off in The Intern, which I admit I only agreed to see because I have a bit of a crush on Anne Hathaway.
But tonight, remarkable is a man I don’t know but would like to meet, if only to shake his hand and thank him. A man who grew up in the same part of New York state as I did but started his life about 15 years later.
Zach Anner is a remarkable person who has already lived a remarkable life. A friend told me I had to read his book, IF AT BIRTH YOU DON’T SUCCEED, because he’s from Buffalo, extremely funny, and tells a great story. I bought the book right away because I trust Sara’s judgment. But, for a variety of reasons, it took me a while to get reading. And, because I’m the world’s slowest reader, I just finished it tonight. Now I’m writing about it. Remarkable, right?
I’m not going to go through all the great stuff I read in Zach’s book, mostly because I want you to get your own copy. Or do what I did—buy two copies and give one to a friend. You’re also welcome to borrow my copy as long as you buy one for someone else, too. Trust me, it’s that good. He’s that good.
The truly remarkable thing is that you’ll find it every bit “that good,” but not for the same reasons I did. For me, Zach painted mental portraits of Western New York that made me smile, but he also wrote things that conjured up the spirit of my grandmother and Aunt Eva. Of Uncle Barty, my brother, Tim. Of Bill, and Aunt Evelyn. People who taught me that happy and sad live in the same space—it’s all about your perspective.
Reading about all the amazing things Zach has accomplished—even when “failing forward” (as my good friend Amanda would say), made me thankful for all the wonderful people and things I’ve experienced in my life. Zach reinforced what another of my closest friends always tells me. I’m paraphrasing now, but Zach basically says that as random as life can be, hope is one of its few constants. See, Kali. I do listen sometimes.
Okay, I’ve been rambling for nearly 900 words, making this the perfect blog for the just sharing category. What I’m really saying is whether or not you’re from Buffalo, check out Zach Anner. If you’re not a reader, watch his show on YouTube. He’s all the things Sara promised me he would be. Then come back here and try to define remarkable without thinking about him.
Originally published at mm-wordsandpages.com