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Every year in elementary school I, along with elementary school students across the nation, got swept up in the tradition of making Things I Am Thankful For lists. Items in my list ranged from the typical Family and Friends to the "only a child could think of this" things such as my Barbies and the penny bear that prevented my younger brother from entering my bedroom. After November I never thought anything special of this list or its contents until the next year when the time came to make the list again.

The "make the list, then forget" routine continued year after year. I entered middle school and buried myself in Dr. Nbook, my paper journal. I stressed over friendships, over grades, and over boys through middle school and high school. Then many things happened at once, where "at once" equals "in the space of around two years".

I made my first B. I discovered the other half of my passion. I left my small town for college (for real this time1). I made friends, lost friends, became the odd one out, and discovered that being social isn't that bad after all. I realized that telling your secrets isn't always a bad thing after all. I let go of bits of my perfectionism and of my former biggest fear, that thing we like to call failure.

Most of these are different topics for another day, but the last thing changed me forever.

When I let go of those bits of perfectionism and fear of failure, though, I began to explore. I was in love with someone I would never meet, and even though I knew so many different people, I was still the outcast among my friends. To avoid the latter, I began to explore the world around me. I took myself out to dinner and observed the group dynamics of the other people eating there. I went to the mall and window-shopped. I spent entire afternoons in coffee shops, pouring my heart out into my paper journal.

While I discovered all these things, though, I saw beauty in every nook and cranny. Not all the people I met on the trains turned out to be the baddies that they were made out to be. Not all buskers were homeless or poor or any other stereotype that people love to slap on. I may not be a great dancer, but the words certainly danced from my mind to the page. My own campus really is more beautiful than people make it out to be (and it's already beautiful), especially when brightly-colored leaves are making their way to the ground. Why aren't more people marveling over all these little things? I wondered.

I didn't have an answer to this, but I did know that these little beauties made life much more fulfilling. These little things--an amusing acronym, a letter addressed to God a.k.a. me, an especially crunchy leaf--did anything from brightening my day to opening a whole new way of seeing the world. They gave me a reason to look around and see more than just what was in front of my face.

Once I started discovering these little beauties, I started seeking them out. After all, if they popped up on the train and at the post office, surely I could find them anywhere. I was right. The little beauties turned up everywhere. Where I sought one, I found one. Sure, everyone else thought I was crazy, but I didn't care anymore. I saw the charm, and I wanted more. I wanted them all the time, just how I always crave Cadbury creme eggs this time of year. I still want them too--those little beauties and the eggs.

So don't ask me what I'm thankful for this year. Ask me what I'm thankful for today, and I'll gladly tell you. I almost guarantee it'll be something only a child would think of.

(Today it's rain.)

1When I say 'for real this time', I do mean that. I did joint enrollment my senior year of high school, where I took classes at the local college and earned high school and college credit at the same time. That's another entry for another time, though.

This entry was written for Week Three of therealljidol. If you enjoyed it, don't forget to vote for it beginning Monday! (And go discover the little things while you're at it.)


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 22nd, 2007 02:55 am (UTC)
This is a wonderful entry. I am always grateful for the rain - without it we wouldn't have food or much life at all.
Nov. 22nd, 2007 12:09 pm (UTC)
This is a lovely entry. (And I love the rain)
Nov. 22nd, 2007 02:50 pm (UTC)
I like your discussion of the little things of beauty, and I think that speaks to why writing is so important. Happy Thanksgiving!
Nov. 23rd, 2007 12:09 am (UTC)
*nodnod* even the big things in life to be grateful for are made up of many little ones... I could say I am thankful to have my sons... but it is always the little things that remind me... today it was when my two year old laid his hand on top of my head and said 'my mommy! good mommy!" To anyone else, it was just a few words from a sticky monkey... to me, it was a world of Thank You Gods...

thanks for the reminder! great entry!
Nov. 24th, 2007 10:39 pm (UTC)
A fellow lover of the crunchy leaves. There's a distinct reason that autumn is my favorite season.

Your words had a smile on my face. It's the wonder of it all that makes life worth living!
Nov. 26th, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC)
this was fantastic! I love love loved it. ♥ beautiful
Nov. 27th, 2007 12:45 pm (UTC)
I like your entry and have voted for it. :^) I love simple beauty, too.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )