Oh hey. I'm thankful for you.
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Thursday, July 7, 2016 | Issue 16

Welcome to the Thursday Three – a curated collection of three themed things just for you in your inbox every Thursday. If you’re reading this and you’re not already subscribed, you can subscribe and view the Thursday Three archive here. All subscriptions come with a fortnight’s supply of high fives and imaginary gold stars.

Growing up, a birthday party wasn’t a real birthday party until mom started tugging on her ear. She looked like a third base coach sending signs to the batter. Some probably wondered what she was doing. But Mom wasn’t telling me to bunt. She wasn’t imploring me to swing away. The ear tug was instead a sign that she was waiting to hear the magic words I owed loved ones and friends who had just showered me with birthday gifts. Always coupled with a squinty glare at once full of love and full of wrath, she was telepathically sending one simple question: “What do you say?”

Thank you. The ear tug meant Mom was waiting for me to say, “Thank you.”

Admittedly, some days I still need my mom around tugging on her ear. It’s easy for me to become so caught up in my stuff or in my head – so caught up in myself – that I fail to offer gratitude. I can be so cynical and so full of complaints that I fail to live from a place of thankfulness. I need to be better. Maybe you do, too.

This week’s three is about the thank you.

The Found Art of Thank-You Notes

Since our daughter was born last September, I have encountered an amazing world I never knew existed: the world of children’s books. As expected, some are cheesy. Others are lame. But some are dark and brilliant, with endings you never saw coming. I Want My Hat Back falls into that category. (Read along here.

It’s one of my favorites. It’s a great story. I love reading it aloud. But I also love the artwork. One night recently, I got lost down a rabbit hole googling the book’s author and illustrator, Jon Klassen. He’s illustrated other books in our library like Extra Yarn, and we also own the sequel to I Want My Hat BackThis Is Not My Hat. We can’t wait for the third and final installment in the series, We Found A Hat, scheduled to release just days before my birthday. 🙌

As I went further and further down the rabbit hole, I discovered that Jon Klassen had also created artwork for Red Cap Cards, a neat stationary company based in Los Angeles. It was late – a terrible time for online shopping – so I ordered a set of Jon Klassen-designed thank you cards.

Justin Timberlake brought sexy back. Jimmy Fallon brought back the thank you note. And we’re better for it. In a great 2014 article in the New York Times, Carroll Irene Gelderman explains why:

Like a lot of people in my generation, I might think, ‘Oh, just send them a text,’ ” said Ms. Gelderman, who is 20. “But I actually enjoyed writing the notes because in the process of opening a note, feeling the paper, seeing the imperfection of the writing, reading the message in another person’s voice, you actually feel like you have a piece of that person in your hand.

I agree. So maybe take a few minutes today and send a thank you note. Email works, too. You’ll feel better. (Science says so.) And you can thank me later. Here’s the full article from the New York Times.

If You Want to Say Thank You, Don’t Say Sorry

Sorry, I’m just rambling. No – wait! I mean thank you for reading.

This webcomic by Yao Xiao is a good punch to the gut and illustrates a tendency I have – to apologize for dumb things. (Amy Schumer did a similar sketch on her show last year. Watch here beginning at 8:53.) The comic is a much-needed reminder that our existence is not something to apologize for. It's a reminder that often, a simple “thank you” is all that’s needed. And grace abounds, thanks be to God.

Click here for the full comic.

The Paradox

Facebook is the worst. (Unless you’re using it to share today’s Thursday Three.) Snapchat is terrible, too. We've all been there. You're sitting at home binge-watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond, eating cold leftover pizza. And you begin to receive snaps from “friends” showing you how amazing their lives are – reminding you that you weren’t invited to whatever they’re doing. It’s fine. You didn’t want to go anyway. You'd have to put on pants. 

But FOMO is real. Fear of Missing Out is a thing. And it’s not going anywhere. We know this because just a few months ago, Merriam-Webster added “FOMO” to its dictionary.

But Merriam-Webster’s definition doesn’t tell you what you really miss out on when FOMO hits. You don’t just miss out on that fleeting moment with your “friends.” You really miss out on being thankful. On being fully alive. On being grateful for being.

When I first read Sarah Kay’s “The Paradox,” a poem that perfectly captures FOMO, I thought, “Get out of my head, Sarah Kay.” And then I reread it. And then I listened to her recite it. And then I shaped the words, “Thank you.”

When I am inside writing,
all I can think about is how I should be outside living.

When I am outside living,
all I can do is notice all there is to write about.

When I read about love, I think I should be out loving.
When I love, I think I need to read more.

I am stumbling in pursuit of grace,
I hunt patience with a vengeance.

On the mornings when my brother’s tired muscles
held to the pillow, my father used to tell him,

For every moment you aren’t playing basketball,
someone else is on the court practicing.

I spend most of my time wondering
if I should be somewhere else.

So I have learned to shape the words thank you
with my first breath each morning, my last breath every night.

When the last breath comes, at least I will know I was thankful
for all the places I was so sure I was not supposed to be.

All those places I made it to,
all the loves I held, all the words I wrote.

And even if it is just for one moment,
I will be exactly where I am supposed to be.

But for real. Thank you. Thanks for reading. Thanks for subscribing. Thanks for making it to the end. I couldn't do this without you. I mean, I could. But then it would just be a diary.

If you enjoy the Thursday Three, would you consider passing it along? Send it to a friend or just sign someone up. Give someone something to thank you for. See you next Thursday.


Copyright © 2016 Brent Levy, All rights reserved.

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