Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Law of Unneeded Returns

The funny thing about gratitude is that you need to throw it out there. And in casting it out, realize that you don't need to have it acknowledged, or expect to have it reciprocated.

Gratitude is one of those things that we hear about in our culture; take for example the following story which you may have heard. A man, grown and old himself, writes to the old school marm he had as a boy. He was the rowdy unfocused boy in her class and she spent time and helped him with his letters--she, never married, is in the winter of her life and has become forgotten and old--waiting for the last leaf to fall. And his words, which required so very little of his time to write, forged a burning within her that warmed her in the final quiet days of her life.

Being grateful is a trait we all should give more time to. It touches people. I know I should devote more effort to it.

I have really only cast the gratitude line (that I can recall) out there for two people, the second being today. Now, lest you think me an ungrateful oaf, I do talk with people and let them know I am grateful for who they are and what they do. I am talking about the kind of responsiveness or thankfulness that comes in the form of a letter or an email. That kind of letter that we may think about writing in our heads, yet never get around to hashing out. Perhaps it is our fear, or our busy schedule that keep us from it--perhaps it is better, more noble things. But all of us (in this terminal illness called life) struggle, and each of us need private words of encouragement. You may believe I am painting everyone with a broad brush here, and perhaps I am. But I truly feel that the private returning of thanks is a needful thing.

Like I said, I have only done this twice. One was a hastily written note for a old friend who influenced me in my sophomore year at Juab High, Brett Wilkey. I ran into him when I was working at the mall, he was walking past my store on some errand, I stopped him on his way out, fairly forcing the paper I wrote into his hands. He is the kind of person who never expects a thank you card--in fact I am quite certain he wasn't sure of what I was pressing on him. The second 'thank you' was penned just a moment ago to Gary Sheide, a health teacher I had at Orem High who influenced me in ways he never even knew.

I had thought of posting it here, but won't after all--I am not sure of my reasons why for the sudden trepidation, perhaps it is because the email cannot reside in thinly veiled prose, ambiguous enough for you to not really know what is going on. Suffice it to say it is a letter like the other, unheralded and unexpected, and will most likely take the recipient off guard. Both were letters of thanks, plain and simple.

Finally, I hope today's letter fosters a kindred feeling in Gary, as I hope the same for the letter I scrawled for Brett. I do not expect to find my bread after many days, as gratitude in and of itself does not need a reward--yet I cast it upon the waters all the same.

And I close with a small prayer to God to ask for me to remember gratitude--to speak it, write it, and email it when He whispers to me to do so. Because we are all in this life together, and I don't know what a small moment spent writing will do to lift someones heavy heart.



Tricia said...

Great post, Jay... I enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

Shopgirl said...

I think you are a great example of one who has gratitude. You notice the small things and enjoy them, and you learn so much by that, you've always shown me how to soak in stuff and be grateful for it. Cool stories too.

nick and deb sorensen said...

Well, eloquent as I know you to be, that was well said...I always hated writing thank you notes until very recently and I've decided that those note that I recieve myself, make more of a difference to those that send them than to myself recieving, I write them more often...hoping that I remember to be grateful more often...

thank YOU for a great reminder of why it is good to be thankful, grateful, thoughtful...