Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Long Way to Grateful

This is about being grateful, but it begins with political TV ads. They were the topic of a piece on the radio today; the presidential elections are “only” fourteen months away, so the ads - lionizing, attack, and otherwise – are rolling out. What this particular piece revealed, however, is that the people who manage these ads are finding their target audience harder to pin down. Fewer people are watching TV in the traditional way – sitting down to watch a show as it’s broadcast, sitting through the commercials. The growing trend is to record a desired show and watch it when it’s convenient and, the ad managers presume, fast forward through the commercials. The piece went on to discuss what this means for the future of the political TV ad, but I was only half-listening. I was too busy imagining this trend blossoming to the point where ads could be avoided entirely, and what a bliss-filled world that would be. I’m not saying anything original with the second half of this sentence, but most ads are built around the concept of manipulating us into feeling inadequate. We’ve all heard it before, in one form or another, but it’s easy to forget. It’s what makes us go out and spend hundreds of dollars on flat screen TVs when we have perfectly good nonflat(?) ones at home. (Yes, the picture is better, but really, does the difference between a crisp and a really crisp picture increase or decrease my enjoyment of what I’m watching?) But thinking about ads and feeling inadequate led me to remember when I used to work at a book store, and I used to pull out books and open them up to read a line at random. One time, I must have pulled out a self-help book, because I opened it to a page and my eyes found a passage talking about how our modern world often leaves us too focused on what’s wrong or missing in our lives. It said something to the effect of, “For one day, pay attention to everything you say, taking note of how much of it is negative – a complaint, a regret, an unkind remark.” A bit touchy-feely, but the idea stayed with me. I started doing it and still do now and then. It got me listening to other people, too, and it’s startling how much of what we say and hear is negative in nature. I’m not saying we should all go around saying only pleasant, happy things, but it’s easy to go the other way most of the time. It takes effort to remind myself about how much I have to be grateful for, so I’m doing it right now, with this post, putting down the things that are on my wife’s and my mind tonight. We want Violet to see this sometime down the road because we hope it will encourage her to do the same. We’re grateful that instead of going to day care, Violet can stay home while my wife and I go to work because my wife’s mother is so generous with her time. We’re grateful for friends and family who have helped my us through rough spots in the past and who are encouraging us to buy a house - even though I might lose my job - because they will be there to help us if we need them. But tonight, we are most grateful that Violet’s fever has broken, her nose is only slightly stuffy, and she is sleeping serenely in her crib.

310 days old


  1. Oh, I'm so glad that Violet is feeling better. Thank you for this gratefulness post, and also for those words about watching our talk. I am going to do that. A.

  2. It's amazing the weight we carry around as parents when our children are sick. This is only the second time for us, and the last time was when we had to take Violet to the hospital. Maybe it gets easier as time goes by and Violet weathers more illnesses, but I've spent the last two days just praying that she doesn't get any worse.