Someone recently asked me what some of my favorite things were. I had to pause and think a moment about all of the things that bring me joy. I reflected on so many areas of my life where I was brought enjoyment without spending a dime. That’s not to say we can’t enjoy things that cost money, but in an effort to consume less and be more present, it is nice to know that the mere thought of nature or taking a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge can bring me so much joy in what sometimes feels like an insane world.
So, my question for you gentle reader is thus, “What are some of your favorite things?” I always tell my students they must have a favorite president, two actually, one living and one deceased. It is important for them to recognize that these flawed men could be great leaders or help pass significant legislation while also failing in a different area of their presidency. For what it’s worth, my two favorite presidents are Jimmy Carter and Lyndon B Johnson.
I also tell my students they need to have two favorite cities, one in the U.S. and one outside of the U.S. These are places that feel like “home.” Whether they visit the place often, live in the particular locale, or have only visited once, having a place that feels like “yours” is essential to the soul. My favorite domestic city is Baltimore, M.D. and my favorite international city is London. Both places feel like they were made just for me. The cobble-stoned streets, the inner harbor with the salt air blowing through the city, and the Baltimore accent (I know, I know) make this old city so special to me. Similarly, the architecture and history of London and the dreary weather with the sun fighting its way to the surface always makes me slow down just a bit and appreciate the changing of the weather.
I don’t know if I could ever pinpoint my favorite singer or musician, there are far too many to choose from. I wouldn’t know whether to start with Aretha Franklin and Steve Wonder or list Bob Marley, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, or Betty Carter. I do know that Biggie a.k.a. The Notorious BIG a.k.a. Christopher Wallace is hands down my favorite rapper of all time. Some may find my love of the rapper Biggie Smalls and my favorite author Mark Twain as a juxtaposition, however, both are master storytellers so it makes sense to me.
Making these lists helps me think of all the beautiful experiences, friendships, conversations, and travels I’ve had over the years. As the seasons change, I implore you to make lists of all your favorite things that make you happy and complete.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and host of “The Blackest Questions” podcast.