One of the worthwhile albeit limited benefits about being far from your friends and family is that when you come back, everyone buys you presents and food to make up for lost time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you feel lonely, move. One gift from a particularly awesome friend was this awesome journal that asks you a question every day for a year and then repeats for 5 years. So you get to answer the same question once a year for 5 years and see how your answers change. Isn’t that so awesome you can’t stand it?!
The other day it asked, “If you could give any advice to a group of second graders, what would it be?” Now, my favorite part of answering the questions every day is racking my brain for absolute perfection. I’m never content with my gut response. When teachers are like, your first answer is usually your best, I’m like What horrible person came up with that advice before thinking twice about it? So every day I sit and search within myself for what I really believe to be the most accurate reflection of me on that exact day so as to not lead myself astray next year when I reread the answer. I don’t want my future self to think down upon my current self.
Be quick to say thank you.
That was my answer. And if you must know, my original, unused answer was this: If you read the book first, you’ll be disappointed by the movie, but if you forego the book, whenever you tell people how much you like the move, they’ll be like “did you read the book?” and then proceed to shame you for not understanding anything that has ever happened. Ever.
Be quick to say thank you. I mean, is there a more effective way to cultivate a heart of gratitude than by outwardly practicing it? There isn’t. So dear second graders that will never read my advice to you, practice saying thank you. Use it early and often. Use it on strangers and parents and friends and waiters and cab drivers and teachers and public officials. And see here my attempt to bring that advice to life.
To everyone who made my summer: the hosts, the cooks, the huggers, the criers, the donors, the drivers, the lenders, the cop who pulled me over in a construction zone and let me off with a warning, thank you. Before heading home, I was given the following warning (that I would not share with any second graders): Don’t expect too much. People just don’t get it. And while that is the unfortunate truth for some, it couldn’t be farther from my own.
So thank you. Thank you for understanding, for trying to understand, for remembering me, for asking questions, for letting me ask you questions, for feeding me, and paying to feed me, and being like “do you need any money?” and “do you need a place to stay?” and “I miss you” and telling me you love me and are proud of me. I’m proud to have your pride and support behind me. Thank you for never letting me feel like I am alone, or forgotten, or like I’ve expected too much of you. Thank you for making it hard to leave. Thank you for being quick to tell me thank you, and honestly, I usually have no idea why you’re thanking me, but darnett if it doesn’t make me wanna go out there and return the favor.
To each of you: from the top, bottom, middle, inner, and outer regions of my heart, thank you. And don’t forget to tune in on October 10, 2014, when I decide what 26 year old Emily considers to be the most vital advice for small children. I hope it doesn’t consist of withholding your feelings, or we are in for a tumultuous year.