and it’s been a whole week since Thanksgiving. It’s one of my most favorite holidays because it has been depressurized and still maintains its sacred silence and simplicity. I can’t speak for the day after Thanksgiving, but maybe some of what we paused to experience lingers as we launch into our all consuming Black Friday.
About 20 minutes before sitting down to eat my brother-in-law, but really just my brother, made some statement that caught me as being profound. I will paraphrase it like this, “When the universe seems to get too complex, and we reach the edge of our reasonable understanding, it’s good to just step back to the simplest thing which is gratitude. That’s really at the core of it all. Just being grateful.”
He’s South African and he understands this holiday perfectly.
It sounds like an obvious comment, but it was the follow-up to a longer dialogue about the origin of the universe, theories of chaos or complexity, the relativity of time and the host of philosophers and scientists who have studied all of these things. It was an array of ideas and words whirring around like helicopter blades, if you stood up too far you might lose your head. So to move away from those big ideas, to something so rudimentary really struck me. It’s a micro-example of what happens when we “Holiday”.
We will work for our entire lives. It’s a excellent part of this existence, but it’s certainly not the ultimate goal. All of us could, with ease, fill every minute of every day working, so there’s just no end to it. That means we have to look ourselves in the mirror and call it what it is. Large, infinite, good, but exhausting. And then we need to go into our kitchens or workshops or any other place of “making” and create something that forces us to stop and enjoy the fruit of that labor. I make sweet potatoes roasted in a Bourbon sauce. Occasionally I cook meat…
Food is a great thing to put effort into, because it requires that you begin enjoying it immediately. Create, consume, enjoy, rest. It’s a tighter and more natural cycle where we can feel proud in our production. Compare this to a Real Estate deal we just concluded after 3 years. Sure it paid out well, but that was a long wait to see something happen. These types of things need to be balanced with more short-term wins.
The holiday table tells us that our human selves need to stop and enjoy the fruits of our work. We aren’t wired to have every moment of effort be something that pays out in 20 years. Entrepreneurs, all of you, stop and enjoy something of what you do. There’s an incredibly poignant scene in the indie film, Sweet Land wherein the two female leads joyfully make an apple pie together. It’s the middle of the day, it’s near the harvest, but they just join each other in making something sweet. When it’s still warm they sit down and eat it all, every last bite. Just the two of them. It’s a hard movie filled with struggles against nature and other humans, but this serene moment has never left me.
If you are a craftsperson. Make yourself something you want, or make it for someone else. Put the “orders” on hold and take the time to keep your passion-fire alight. If your work is technical, and you love a hobby, take a day off and just go do that thing. Be alone or with a chosen few. Enjoy what you make and then once it’s done, when it’s just right, share it and consume it. Feel the enjoyment of the fruit of your work. Remember why you are a passionate person. Let others commend you and enjoy it too.
We effectively Thanks-Give when we do this. It’s us using our passion to make something for itself, not for money or gain.