I remember watching an episode of “Growing Pains” when I was a teenager: Mike Seaver (as played by the odious Kirk Cameron) was going through some existential crisis, and over the course of the discussion with his theater professor, he uttered the words “I just want someone to say ‘I’m better off for having known you.'” The thought of someone being better off because of my presence didn’t register much with me back then. Blame it on ignorance. And the fact that most teenagers, regardless of circumstances, are entitled folks.
As I’ve gotten older, appreciating people has become a lot more important. Part of the realization has been due to realizing the impermanence of life. Part of it, of course, is wanting to be appreciated myself. When you want something, it’s a lot easier to realize the need to express that emotion to others, right?
I’m a lucky man in a lot of ways. We all are-as soon as we get up in the morning and take a breath, that’s one tick in the “+” column. How much do we appreciate the people who get us through the day, though? It doesn’t have to be someone who plays a tangible and active role-the person who helps you with your groceries, or the person who helps you take care of your kids. Just people who, by various means, enrich your life. They might motivate you to do a better job. They might motivate you to be a better person (or, to combine the two, they might motivate you to work harder at being a better person.) They might go above and beyond to do something as simple as have a conversation with you, or send you a reassuring word when you’re in the dumps. They might offer moral support, or a few bucks to get you through a financial pinch. They might…OK. You get the idea.
Bottom line: more of us should give people their flowers while they can still smell ‘em, yanno? Life is short, and having regret when things are about to wrap up is a given. But there’s a lot to be said for minimizing that regret in as many ways as possible…and letting people know that they’re appreciated is something that’s so simple, but not done often enough. How much bad happens in the world just because people feel invalidated somehow?
Me? I try to show appreciation to the people that make a difference in my life as much as I can. I don’t always succeed, but I’d like to think I make an honest effort to do so, and not just when the calendar reminds me of it. I’m thankful to you for reading this site, for one. I’m extremely appreciative towards the men and women who write for this site: they do it for the love. There’s certainly no money in it-at least not yet. And as many of these people were friends of mine before we were collaborators here, I’m certain there’s a part of them that does it because they like me, or respect me-as a person and/or as a writer, so I thank them for taking this huge leap of faith with me. Maybe it’s wrong for me to single anyone out over anyone else, but I especially thank Jesse, GG, Drew, Dr. Gonzo and Mike S. for the extra work that they do a lot of time, and they do it with other demands like jobs and families. KJ, you’re the new guy, but I’ve already saved a place for you in next year’s piece. I’m appreciative of people like Michael Parr and Mike Duquette for taking time out once a month or so to blab semi-coherently about music. I’m thankful to people that don’t work directly for this site, but have a major role in the work I do here, whether it’s Popdose‘s editor-in-chief Jeff Giles (an invaluable professional resource and a reassuring and honest personal presence) or my mentor, Craig Chapman, who was one of the first people to really make me believe that I was capable of doing something like this. I’m thankful to all of my friends who might not contribute directly to the site, but offer support, spread our articles virally, and leave feedback. I’m thankful to the publicists, managers, other writers, podcasters and musicians (special shouts to Mike Doughty, Dres from Black Sheep, Bleu, Rahsaan Patterson, Van Hunt and Matthew Ryan in particular) that help our cause and/or serve as motivation.
I’m thankful to music, in general, for helping me retain my sanity (this is relative, of course,) and, of course, there are plenty of other people outside of my writing career or this site that deserve thanks just because they put up with my shit.
So…enjoy your Thanksgiving. Eat tons of turkey, watch tons of football, and enjoy your time with your family and friends. While you’re doing all of that, though, make sure you take the time to remember the true meaning of the holiday: not only being appreciate of the things you have, but also taking the time to appreciate the people who play important roles in your life. Probably something we should all do every day, as opposed to just for a day or a season, yeah?