I used to get angry at those people on t.v. who were too stupid to understand how bad their life was. They’d be standing on a hill outside of their home ankle deep in water. The camera would pan over to the home and show the water still lapping up around the window level. The front door would be open and you could see their couch floating on three feet of water.
The camera would move back to them and the announcer would say, “it looks as if you’ve lost everything in this flood.”
“Well,” the mom would say with her arms around a child clutching a teddy bear, “I wouldn’t say that at all. We were very lucky. We all got out safely.”
“Lucky?” I’d shout at the set, “Lucky? A flood came and took all your possessions away. Lucky would be if the storm blew safely out to sea.”
You just knew that this family was thankful for all that they had every single day and that this storm hadn’t changed that.
What’s wrong with those people? Don’t they see all that is wrong in their life? Where’s their anger? Where’s their indignation? And how did I become one of them?
How did I become one of those people I used to scream at through my television?
We had something happen in February that sucks more than you can imagine. Maybe not more than you can imagine, but at least as much as you can imagine. And yet, other than that, we have a pretty wonderful life.
Now before February, I realized this daily. I appreciated Kim, Maggie, Elena, our friends, our neighbors, my colleagues, and the world around me. Not in a goofy, cult-like, rose-colored-glasses kind of way. In a way where I would stop to smell the coming spring as I left the house in the morning. In a way where the day would pause when the girls came into the room.
I wasn’t always like this. I don’t remember how I got here but I can remember one of those moments where I noticed a change. Kim and I had been fighting about something and I was waiting in the rain for her to pick me up. She was late – she’s always late. Other couples argue about money. We mostly argue about time. I got in the car and said “thanks for picking me up.” And I meant it.
She looked over to see if I was being sarcastic or somehow chiding her for being late. I could well have been. I just wasn’t. I certainly had been unpleasant in similar situations during our marriage. But I wasn’t at that time. And she looked at me and said “your welcome.” And she meant it.
So here’s the thing. We were fighting but she still came to pick me up. We were fighting and she was late but I was still grateful she came to get me. We were fighting and she paused a moment to let me know that she would be there for me when I needed a ride – even when we were fighting.
And that’s when I realized that you can be angry about this thing over there and not let it change who you are and how you go through the rest of your day.
Barry Diller was recently asked about how his company IAC/Interactive cooperates in some ventures with companies that he competes with in other ventures. He said, “If you actually had some approach which is ‘because you compete with me, I’m never going to talk to you about anything.’ That won’t work today, and certainly ain’t going to work tomorrow.”
And so I have this one area of my life that sucks as much as you can imagine.
And yet, other than that one area, there is so much good around me.
On this first Thanksgiving since my six year old died, you may yell at these words the way I used to yell at my t.v. screen.
“Hey,” you can yell, “Daniel, wake up and smell the coffee. Your life is horrible. You lost a child this year.”
Yeah. I know. Not a day goes by that I don’t know that. But I also know the love of people I see every day, people I see now and then and people I’ve never met. I have fights with Kim over dumb things. That’s not going to stop. But none of that means we aren’t always there for each other.
I am thankful this Thanksgiving. I’m even thankful that those of you who are yelling care enough to yell.