gratitude-a-thon day 91: finding gratitude

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Mike Hughes. He has taught me a lot about advertising. Now he’s teaching me something about life.

I just found out that a truly brilliant creative director that I revered when I was learning about advertising, is battling with a potent foe and is in the last stages of living with lung cancer. He is only 64. He is not someone I ever met in real life, just in award show books. His work was beautiful and smart and it taught me a lot when I was trying to understand what good work was. I have dealt with lung cancer before. My  mom had it. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now.

But what I was clued into today, at the same time I learned that Mike Hughes of the Martin Agency was dying, was that he is very much alive on a beautifully written blog that is called unfinishedthinking. I have been reading it all morning. There in black and white are the words of a man who is at the end, and has some very interesting stuff to say. It’s a sort of gratitude-a-thon all by itself. He’s cool. I wish he were hanging around. He is one of the guys in the white hats who work in this loco business.

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The city is singing Kumbaya right now. But how long can we sustain it? It’d be great to think it could last forever.

I also read an article in yesterday’s Boston Globe called Disaster brings us together by Ty Burr. that resonated with me in my deepest parts. It’s about the marathon and the feeling of loss and sadness and how we are all more connected when we experience a tragedy together. I have always known this to be true. That a death, or horrific event brings out the very nicest parts of people. Every time I’ve had a health scare, or sick parent, or been in the middle of an awful circumstance, I become more acutely aware of life’s smallest moments of beauty. I have been at my clearest after loss and grief, understanding fully the simplicity of living. Your eyesight is clearer, your appreciation of the sun making its way to the center of the sky is bigger, your taste buds are pressed to the “on” button. And people are nicer. There is a camaraderie that only a soul searing tragedy creates that mimics a shooting star, amazing and short-lived. In the “post-anything-that-rocks-your-world” state, you are able to open an invisible door that allows you the cliff notes of what is really important and special in your world. And how very simple all of it really is.

But it only lasts for a minute. Or at least for me, I have never been able to sustain, what really amounts to living a 24/7 life with gratitude, for very long. Pretty soon the annoyance of grocery shopping merges with the need for Tide, and the 12 soccer games that will require you to sit in a wildly uncomfortable chair, pair up with the unseasonably cold weather, and you’re once again right back in the minutiae of the day to day. We have a short memory, it seems. In the time it takes to turn from MSNB to HBO, we are back to our old ways.

Anyway, I’m grateful to have found Mike Hughes blog, and Ty Burr’s article. They exemplify what I’m always after. Living with gratitude all the time, every moment, instead of just when times are tough. I really do believe that’s where the magic is. And while I’m getting better at it, I’ve still got plenty of work to do.

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