As you may know, I am an avid reader. I love finding books that may not be on the mainstream bestseller list but are well written and share something of deep value. These types of books don’t come around often but when they do, they can provide a space of deep reflection for your own life and creative journey. In addition, they are the one’s you can read over and over again and find different nuggets of wisdom each time you look through their pages. They are also the ones that you mark up and write notes in the margins to come back to whenever you need that spark or push to move you forward.
Brothers on Life by Matt and Mike Czuchry is one of those books. For those of you who don’t know Matt, he has played the role of Cary Agos in The Good Wife on CBS for the past 7 seasons and will be reprising his role as Logan Huntzberger on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life later this year on Netflix. At the printing of this book, his brother Mike was an assistant professor in Psychology at a small liberal arts college in Texas and has his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology.
Written in three acts, the brothers share their stories through what Mike calls GEMS (thoughts about life written on notebook paper)…. These GEMS give a glimpse into certain points of the brothers personal journeys. At the opening of the book each writes their own letter to the reader sharing that we are all universally connected in one way or another but to always remember that our imagination and dreams are what allow us to live in the moment.
“…I had forgotten an essential cornerstone of my childhood; the beauty of life embraced through imagination, dreams and living in the moment.” xii – Matt
“…we both embrace the core perception that life is beautiful, challenging, precious, and an experience that interconnects us all.” xiii – Mike
Throughout the book, the brothers share these moments through prose, photographs and handwritten messages to each other. Each piece shows real individuals sharing their thoughts, troubles, loves, losses and the deep bond that only siblings can know. It’s these moments in our own lives that we need to stop and take stock of because sometimes they can be fleeting or just out of our grasp if we don’t savor them completely.
Having now read and reread this book several times, I have marked the pieces that I could relate back to my own personal experience and counted 24 as I sat down to write this…Pieces on love, family, dreams, faith, fear and death all brought my memories to the surface.
One such piece called Paint on Windows recalls Mikes experience with his daughter in the hospital and how as parents we hold and protect but that we must also allow something greater than ourselves to take over in times of need. My own daughter had life threatening surgery when she was just 6 months old. What got me through that experience was being surrounded by family, loving friends and a deep sense of faith that everything would be OK. At one point during the surgery I walked outside in a garden with my family and a hummingbird flew over head as if to say, don’t worry I am here with you and I like what I see…. I’m not leaving yet. After the surgery the anesthesiologist told me we had a fighter on our hands and that she made it through. Today, that little fighter is 14, strong willed and confident and makes my life so happy each and every day. We still have to visit the doctors once a year and they are continually astonished at what an incredible person she has become.
(photo credit: Jorg Meyer via mattczuchryofficial.com)
In addition to the stories shared in Brothers on Life, I marvel at the crossover of disciplines that many creatives make within their professions. Seeing Matt first as an actor and then as a writer sparked a curiosity that I have had for many years with how, as creatives, we are not bound by just one thing and it seems that we have many loves and passions that drive us. Although we may not share the same creative path, you can take some basic elements from each discipline and be able to find a common thread that connects us all – dreaming, imagination and storytelling. This for me is the basis of creativity. First, DREAM and IMAGINE and then TELL YOUR STORY in whatever way serves you, then perhaps we will grow and develop into something greater than ourselves.
Special thanks to Matt and Mike for writing and sharing their story. You can find Brothers on Life through Matt’s website.
Have a great Wednesday everyone!