A friend, David Brown, wrote in his blog this week about a practice he has taken up this year of writing one thank you letter a week to someone who has had an impact on his life: “I turned sixty-five in 2020,” he writes, “,,,which certainly falls in the “time flies by quickly” category. In ways that I never could have imagined, I have had a fortunate life. In wanting to recognize this milestone, I found some inspiration in two very different places. First, I was taken with the powerful scene in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood when Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers asks a reporter to take a minute of silence in the middle of a Chinese restaurant to consider the people who’ve loved him into being. The second is writer Nancy Davis Kho’s Thank You Project. Both have motivated me to write thank you notes over the course of this year to the people that have enriched my life. This week I want to thank you.”
He goes on to say, “By focusing on how to articulate what it is about someone else that has proven so beneficial in our lives, we are led to the realization of how much our thoughts, words, and deeds are shaped by others. Community, in all its meanings, is key to a fuller existence.”
This is such a beautiful and simple idea. I have struggled this year to figure our how to balance the positive and negative in an honest way. Reading this makes me realize that being grateful is more than a simple decision to be more grateful. It is investing in the good, taking the time to investigate, to savor, to express, to communicate the people, the moments, the places that matter. Writing is such an important part of that. And I would add that part of celebrating the good is still taking an explicit stand through our actions against the forces that would destroy the good.