[DJ Hurula is principal and lead creative for ONE Brand Studio, a brand design consultancy in Northville, Michigan. He works with non-profits, mission driven groups and locally held businesses to help them communicate who they are, what they do and why it matters. Married to wife Becky, their two young daughters are his favorite creative projects and would certainly win awards if they gave them out for that sort of thing. But thankfully they don’t and parenting isn’t a contest. Mostly.]
So, I’ve been thinking about perspective and what it takes to get some. And by perspective I mean sincere insight, deep thoughts that matter… slivers of understanding that make some kind of sense out of this awesome and bizarre mystery called life.
For me, it doesn’t happen in a single moment. It’s more of a process… an ‘arriving at’ rather than ‘resting on’ a firm conclusion. I’m the kind of person who needs time to develop perspective. The more, the better. And with Thanksgiving drifting softly into the swirling glow of traffic that is life in the rearview mirror, I think maybe I’m starting to gain some.
By this point, the Christmas tree is up. The last of the left overs are basically gone. A few odds and ends from Turkey Day rattle around the fridge but even those are moving quickly to a point of questionable food safety. The stuff your mom thought would stay chilled in the garage? Forget about it. The Pilgrims had giant hats. We have Tupperware. I’m not sure either works exactly as advertised.
Still, I’ve been thinking. And here’s what I’ve realized: my life needs less holidays and more celebrated everydays. The day-to-day grind is where the magic really happens. It’s where we live. And the truth is that how thankful I am on the third tuesday after Thanksgiving is a better indication of what’s right or wrong with my heart than how thankful I am on Thanksgiving itself.
Anyone can do thankfulness for a day. It’s not hard. You put a smile on and act gracious and bring a dish to pass.
A little bit later you pick up one of the candy corns at your place setting and share how it represents the new job or promotion or cool thing that happened last year that you’re really grateful for.
But thankfulness as a lifestyle? That’s a different matter altogether. And it’s something I’ll be working to embrace more and more going forward. Because I have so much to be thankful for. The way I see it, everything is a blessing. Nothing is a burden. Lately, I’ve been waking up each morning with a clear sense that Jimmy Stewart was right. It IS a wonderful life. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you have many of the same privileges that I do. And whether you realize it or not, yours IS a wonderful life, too.
As a society, we don’t do well with sustained, sincere, thankfulness. We suffer from short memories that make us think everything is disposable. Gratitude goes lacking in a culture consumed with cheaper, faster, better, more.
But I’m choosing a path around all of that. I’m determined to celebrate the moments in life that are remarkable in their unremarkableness. And I’m determined to be unrelenting in thankfulness… practicing a little (or more likely, a lot) each day, instead of saving it up for the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years.
So what does it all mean? For me, it means that as I reflect on 2010, it turns out that two of the greatest days this year were just an ordinary Monday in June and a routine Wednesday in November. When each day began, I had no idea how special it would turn out to be. And time has given me perspective to see just how epic these days really were. Fortunately, I had my phone with me to capture a bit of the excitement and help me remember. And I want to share these memories with you to encourage you to be thankful for the simple, amazing things that happen in your corner of the world.
Both clips show my youngest daughter, Katelyn. She is 4 and has a rare genetic condition that has delayed her growth and development. In the first video , we are at Disney World and Katelyn is riding Goofy’s Barnstormer… her very first rollercoaster. It was at night so most of the clip you’ll just hear her laughs and screams, but stick with it to the end to see the priceless smile on her face.
In the second video, we are at DMC Children’s Hospital Rehab Center. Katelyn has been in therapy for three years and this clip shows one of the first times she finally took steps on her own in a walker.
I’m looking forward to next year. And actually, to every new day. Because I’ve realized that each day is a chance to be overcome by all that is good in the world and to express thankfulness to the Giver of Every Perfect Gift in return.
Peace and the best of the season to you and yours.
[Here’s the link to all of the 31 Days of Thanksgiving posts.]