Even if I left the planet today, which I thoroughly do not believe will happen despite an annoying cold and a lack of coffee, I would say that I have had more than my share of fun and delightful surprises in life. Despite the difficulties that we all face, the heartbreaks and aches and disappointments, I am always so curious to see what is going to happen next. So many good things have occurred that I never in a million years could have predicted or anticipated and I am confident there are many more such events in my future. Is that optimism? Whoa. Maybe. I just don't want to miss anything! I WANT TO PLAY!

Playing is good, doing is good, participating in whatever it is that floats your boat is good, especially if you have a greater good in mind. Chicago author, broadcaster, blogger, and filmmaker Amy Krause Rosenthal is someone who is deeply invested in the idea of the greater good, the collective, the creative, and the connecting of the disparate into a cohesive whole. She has an endlessly busy mind and gentle spirit and is always thinking up playful, interactive, simple ideas to bring little shimmers of light into the daily lives of her readers and listeners.

On 8/8/08, Amy began an ambitious film project called "The Beckoning Of Lovely," which was really just the beginning of an idea rather than a fully-formed, storyboarded, funded-out movie. This idea was to produce a full-length work made up of anything -- anything, from art to music to poems to sand castles -- that was "lovely," and that submissions for the film would be open to anyone in the world. You have to be either a bit crazy or really bold to launch into such an undertaking, and Amy is surely a terrific combination of that. You have to be a bit crazy to be able to dream of things that do not yet exist, and then be bold enough to see that dream into reality, yes? Amy posted a video invitation on YouTube to send in contributions for the film, and they began pouring in.

It was far too much for any one or two or twenty people to handle, so Amy organized a volunteer army of sorts to thoughtfully go through each and every item sent for consideration. They began to hone in on the items they agreed fit the spirit of the film best, even though for quite some time -- years -- the structure of the film was unclear to all. It took time and reflection on how best to make all these things work in a film, but the project was completed and released on 11/11/11, and is a sweet, dreamy celebration of the human spirit and the tiny moments of reflection that really are not so tiny at all.

In 2008, I had just started this blog, also with no clear idea of what I thought it was going to be or what would happen with it. A few weeks in I decided that I would post something every day. What that would be, I didn't know -- I still don't know! But it gets done, and something is created that would not have existed otherwise, and that feels right. It's been a great, positive thing in my life. Anyway, my pal Dena encouraged me to send something into the "...Beckoning..." project. I was definitely intrigued, loved the idea of a global collaborative creative work, but had a hard time thinking about what I had to offer that was "lovely." It's kind of a big concept, you know? I ended up pulling a one-sentence post from the blog about something my daughter said to me at age five...and my goodness, it was accepted into the film!

Now get this: Dena also made a submission, which was a one-minute song we ("we" being Dena, Kevin, and I) did back in 1984 called "I Love Cake I Love Pie," as the Performa-Chords. In the P-C tradition, no songs were written or rehearsed before turning the cassette recorder on, and fair amounts of alcohol were also in the room. It's beyond the simple to possibly moronic, but apparently it is also lovely, because this too made it into the film. Wow! I honestly never thought I would hear myself beerily singing and bashing away on an acoustic guitar in a movie, and again, this is why I like life. YOU NEVER KNOW!

So I bring to you, in its 5-part entirety,"The Beckoning Of Lovely," which I encourage you to watch in one go here or on YouTube. (If you want to Spot The Marianne, those moments both come in Part Two, at around 5:12 and 7:49.) Enjoy the thoughtful, beautiful things therein.

"The Beckoning of Lovely," Part One

"The Beckoning Of Lovely," Part Two

"The Beckoning Of Lovely," Part Three

"The Beckoning Of Lovely," Part Four

"The Beckoning Of Lovely," Part Five

The Performa-Chords, "I Love Cake I Love Pie"