My friend Megan told me some years ago that when she finished reading The Dud Avocado she wrote a letter to novelist Elaine Dundy to thank her for her work.
“I don’t know. It just really impacted me and I thought she should know,” she offered in way of explanation.
This struck me as a strange thing to do at the time, but the more I’ve thought about it since, it seems stranger that I never thought to do it myself.
I thanked the lady at the grocery counter today for pushing buttons on her cash register so I could buy ground beef. I waved at a guy in traffic for letting me over.
But I have consumed pieces of art that have literally altered the way I choose to live and I have never even attempted to let the people responsible know that I appreciate their efforts.
We live in a world so connected, I could potentially reach most of these people via a Twitter alert on their cell phone within a couple of minutes right now. I have no excuse.
So in the spirit of a national day dedicated to thankfulness, I present an open letter of “hoorah” to just a handful of the artists who have helped shape the person I am today. (Tweets to each of them to come later!)
– Thanks, Mike Herrera . When I was 13 years old, yourband of tattooed dudes with a cartoon punk as a mascot became the proof I needed that I wouldn’t have to be good in gym class to survive junior high. You are the reason I learned to play bass.
– Thanks, Rob Bell. You are continuing to carve a path for people like me who are full of questions and good intentions. The book Love Wins exploded thought processes I’d held close for my entire life and allowed me to think about the big “what-ifs.”
– Thanks, Miriam Toews.I am so glad you had the guts to write and release the semi-autobiographical fictional novel All My Puny Sorrows about dealing with your sister who was desperate to commit suicide. Your book helped me more than anything else I’ve ever read in dealing with the loss of a close friend. I can’t imagine how hard it was to write.
– Thanks, John Carney. You have made three of the only movies I have ever seen that capture on screen what I find in life to be so magical, spiritual and necessary about music.
– Thanks, Marc Maron. You’ve made vulnerability an art form and inspired me to pursue podcasting and the love of conversation.
– Thanks, Jon Foreman. You have been a big brother of sorts through music. Your tunes have convinced me more than once to keep holding on to faith, relationships and idealism even when it seemedtoo overwhelming.
– Thanks, Neil Gaiman. An Ocean at the End of the Lanecaused internal reflection I needed.
– Thanks, Aimee Bender. You wrote the novel that helped me understand adolescence.
– Thanks, Rainbow Rowell. You wrote the novel that helped me understand marriage.
Take time this week to figure out to whom you owe a thank you note. It’s easy for most of us to fire off 140 characters about our discontent, but it can be a whole lot tougher when we are trying to articulate something positive that might leave us exposed. It doesn’t need to be eloquent. It just needs to be done.