Finding the Hooded Merganser

This post could technically be titled A Book Review. However, I don’t think the book needs my help. This isn’t about the merits of the work or the talent of the author. This is about my experience. I as an individual will experience creative works differently than another person might. I rarely consider popular opinion when choosing what movies, books, music, or other creative works I will consume. I am me. This means I will see and hear and feel my life in my own way. Every time.  I also feel that this world is so full of those willing to review negatively for the sake of touting their own experience. Some personal point they need to prove. “Well, I didn’t like it…so I need to tell you.” This action, in my opinion, only serves selfishly.  I don’t refer to product reviews, only the opinions regarding works of art. Literary, theatrical, visual, and other artistic media. I firmly feel that in these contexts only our own opinions are relevant. How can I let another person tell me what is worthy of my time or my consideration when only I know MY feelings?

To the point…

Ian Harding is an actor.  I don’t know Ian Harding, I have never met Ian Harding, but I have watched his show Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family (Now Free Form). I have also read his book. Well, he read it to me. Via Audible audio-books.  I listened to his self-narrated Odd Birds, a memoir of sorts.  He admits himself on the early pages that he is too young to write a memoir. Ian loves birds. Ian has experienced that strange world that we call “celebrity”.  So Ian wrote a book about birds, acting, and life.

Social media is a strange place. In this new age of instant information and with privacy levels at an all time low it is possible to “know” people without “knowing” them.  We are slowing redefining what it means to be acquainted.  I often find I am fascinated by the generation of actor/actress/performer that are of an age with myself. Perhaps it is a sick need to compare my achievements to theirs or a misguided method of living vicariously through others. Either way, I enjoy looking into the lives of the 30-something celebrity. But I don’t like to read the tabloids or scroll through a zillion paparazzi snaps. I love the new wave of social media that allows celebs to give us their own view of themselves. Snap chat, Twitter, and Instagram allow a more intimate glance into the lives of those lucky enough to make the movies, music, and television that we love. Now maybe its invasive, but I think it is human nature to be curious about others. And when someone is already larger than life in our sphere because of their career, its impossible not to want to see a little bit of what makes them more like us. This book felt like an extension of that. Ian Harding sounds a lot like me. Driven to be creative and inspired by the world. Uncertain at times and even a little awkward. I am sure when someone writes a memoir, there is a battle between raw honesty and whats relatable. I hope Ian was mostly honest. Even though I didn’t love birds before, I notice them now.  I stop to think about them. I stop and think about myself, who I could have been if I’d chosen another path in life. Who I still am, regardless of the path I have chosen…

I don’t know why I needed to write my reaction to this book. Maybe I just enjoyed the little glimpse into a life so unlike my own, but from a perspective very much like mine.  I often categorize my celebrity fascinations like friendships. I can see myself chatting with Ian. I’d like to think we could be friends. He will never see this post and never know the profound appreciation I had for his words in Odd Birds.  He will never know how I envied his dedication to his dream. He will never know how inspired I was by those steps he took in the California heat wearing the green sweater, sweating, how he would sit in that room  full of rugged chiseled jawlines.  How I would feel his self awareness and doubt as if it were my own. I don’t know why I needed to write about this book.

I am just glad that he wrote it. I am glad that he read it. And I am glad that I could hear it.

I’ll never stop checking the ducks. Looking for the elusive Hooded Merganser. Looking for the lives others live that inspire me.

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