Ben Carr

Picking Favorites

by Ben Carr

What’s your favorite color? Mine is green. Not a lime or neon green, or a pure emerald green, or a dark forest green — a muted sage green.

It’s such an innocuous question, and I have a hunch that a lot of people settle on their answer during childhood, and never really give it another thought.

My favorite color wasn’t always green. I think I would have said blue” for a while in middle school. In kindergarten, my yearbook had a fill-in-the-blank survey inside the cover where I wrote that my favorite color was black. (That rings true for my current wardrobe.) I also remember a phase in elementary school where I would respond that my favorite color was clear” — not in a pensive let the world’s colors shine through” way, but in a let’s argue whether clear’ is a color” way.

At the beginning of my 30s, I saw a hoodie in a store and realized that I actually really like a warm yellow. I didn’t know that about myself.

Some people seem to have an easy time rattling off their favorite movie, or the favorite vacation they’ve been on, or their favorite pizza place. I’ve had a hard time with that, but I’ve never really been sure why.

I think a lot of the friction comes down to wishing for a better question — something that begs for a longer answer than green.” Something that inspires follow-up, or demands explanation. Otherwise, I just tend to get lost in the parameters and logistics.

For example:

You’re going to live on a desert island for the rest of your life, and you can only bring one album — what is it?

…so how will I hear the music? CDs and vinyl aren’t super conducive to a sandy environment. If it’s something else, you’re telling me it can’t store more than one album on it? Are my basic needs met on this island, and the music is for enjoyment, or is the music my only salvation during my demise? If my needs are met, like…how? I assume I’m alone on this island, otherwise why couldn’t we all just listen to each other’s albums?

If the answer doesn’t spur discussion, maybe I’d rather just talk about the question.

I’m realizing the rest of the friction comes down to a lack of reflection when things are really, really good.

I thought to myself… What’s the best birthday you’ve ever had?

That question popped into my head, with my birthday approaching, and I realized I don’t have a good answer. I’m going to find one — I’ll look through my photos, let the memories wash over me, and I’m almost certain one year will stand out above the rest — but I don’t have one now, and I don’t like that.

I’d like to be more intentional about savoring the good times. Not just being in the moment,” but sitting with it afterward. How did it make me feel? Who was there? Were we celebrating something? What time of year was it?

If I get better at keeping track, maybe I’ll have an easier time picking a favorite.