Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Creativity and the Umali Awards

In the photo, that's Renato Umali (wearing glasses) with John Myers, his friend from high school. John tied for seventh-place in DIWITTYs. DIWITTYs, you ask? They're Days in Which I Talked to You. On Saturday, at the 6th Annual Umali Awards, Renato presented DIWITTY awards based on his calculations from 2006. Not surprisingly, his best friend had the most DIWITTYs, but the second-place finisher posed proudly with his trophy, pleased to have earned a top spot despite his lower total than the previous year.

Renato uses Excel spreadsheets to track, among other things, DIWITTYs, most frequented eatery and the average tab, and his mood (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being "shitty"). My grad-school friend Michelle — not to be confused with my high-school friend Michelle, misty-eyed Michelle, or her sister-in-law Michelle — invited me because she was in the running for an award. Though she didn’t win for Best Meal, she declared that it was an honor just to be nominated. Indeed. The gallery was packed with men in suits and women in fancy dresses who showed up to present and possibly collect awards. What I loved was that these awards honored Renato's friends and also documented his appreciation and gratitude for the people in his life. If you awarded DIWITTYs, who'd be on your list? And what else would you find worth documenting? In the quantification of human experience, do you think about how many eggs you ate last year, much less track egg consumption from year to year?

I've been thinking about creativity lately, and how it can be a challenge to develop it. It takes work, for sure. But doing the work is satisfying; I find that I'm happiest when I'm doing something creative, especially when it's part of a long-term goal. I've been inspired by both Renato and by this neat book, 52 Projects: Random Acts of Everyday Creativity. Both have shown me ways to be creative (many of the book's projects include writing letters and taking photos, two things I love to do). The way I see it, life is about priorities. And if I'm prioritizing creativity and the people I care about, I'm definitely on the right track. So, thanks, Renato (and Jeff Yamaguchi, even though I don't know you). I'll look forward to the 7th Annual Umali Awards.


Michelle said...

I had a friend who tracked the amount of bacon he consumed over a three-week time period. Of course, this was at a corporate training facility and said bacon was free. There was also a bit of peer pressure for him to consume as much bacon as possible, simply because we had nothing better to bet on / discuss during our morning coffee.

I think the Umali Awards represent two really great principles: understanding and appreciating the time, energy and commitment of friendship; and not taking the world so seriously that you cannot dress up and attend your own [wonderfully!] silly awards show.

Here's a shout out to all the people who continue to call me and keep me on their "friend radar" when I'm being a recluse. I really do appreciate the effort.

Thanks for a great post, Naomi!

Naomi said...

Bacon consumption: that's awesome. Free bacon, even better! I think you're right about the awards and what they represent. You should host your own awards: the Misty-Eyed Awards. Why not? You're good at Excel and Power Point and a very analytical thinker...

Jean said...

I LOVE IT--I NEED IT! thanks for pointing it out!