Appreciate the boring, the routine, the mundane, the ubiquitous features of your daily life. If they were removed, you would grieve for the normalcy lost. This is in fact a thread in some of the testimonies recorded by Holocaust survivors in the memory foundation created by Stephen Spielberg as a part of living history. His USC Shoah Foundation has filmed about 52,000 two-hour eyewitness accounts in 34 languages and in 58 countries. What most struck me in some of the recordings is their gratitude for mundanity, the “everydayness” of the lives that were stolen from them. This Thanksgiving I see these testimonies as urging us to appreciate what we have.


What frightens me the most for our country and the world is the struggle for human rights. But let’s take it down to the ordinary, the taken for granted, the unappreciated. While at the local film festival last week (a huge privilege to attend), I saw a film called Diani and Devine Meet the Apocalypse. In its cockamamy premise (think zombies), two so-so comedians are faced with all of the craziness that ensues when resources run out and base survival instincts take over. At one point, after a lot of walking down lone highways and eating yucky canned vegan meals scavenged from a survivalist’s garage, Devine gets to take a hot shower. He is practically orgasmic as he enjoys the feeling of running hot water over his body. Would you miss hot showers?

Would you miss the mundanity of being able to wake up with your bedhead in your home to grope for the coffeemaker and enjoy your first cup of the day? Would you miss having to schlep your kids to and fro from their various activities? Would you miss the chore of going into a grocery store while slowly walking the aisles selecting from the absurd number of choices we have? Would you miss actually having a job to go to, coworkers to slam the boss with, doing good work that you get paid for? Would you miss having to cut your grass? How about no yard, no house, no place to live–because it has been bombed to smithereens? Aleppo.

Help Your Children See What Is In Front Of Them

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents
By and large, we are a spoiled lot. We have a lot, and it is easy to take it all for granted. Don’t do that. Don’t be a turkey. Smile at your neighbor, even if they didn’t vote the way you did. Look for ways to be helpful, or just do something kind for a loved one. Don’t expect thanks, and don’t keep score. That is deadly to a relationship. Work your way towards a glorious 2017 starting with this day.

If you are interested in checking out the recordings mentioned, go to USC Shoah Foundation. Happy Thanksgiving!