What would you think of me now,
so lucky, so strong so proud.
I never said thank you for that,
now I’ll never have the chance”– Jimmy Eat World “Hear You Me”
There are no words regretted like those left unsaid. This phrase and feeling has been repeated, rephrased and framed on the walls of the poetry/arts “hall of fame” since the formation of language. Usually, it’s in the context of not telling someone you love them, and then losing the chance. I read an article last week written by a nurse who had compiled the top 5 regrets of people on their death bed and number three was some variation of wishing they had the courage to express what they were feeling. I think I would include, wishing that they had seized the opportunity to express what they were feeling. I like to think of it as the most important time management of your life you will ever engage in. Isn’t the excuse for everything these days… “I’m too busy?” Too busy to write a kind note, leave a small voicemail, write a nice text, bake a tasty meal. We just don’t have the time.
For as many mean thoughts and words are created and expressed throughout the world, I think there are as many non-expressed kind thoughts and words that we are holding in or thinking “we don’t have time for”. If you disagree with me, think of your day today: How many times did you think “Wow, I love that girl’s smile” or “Thank you for letting my car go in front of yours in the bumper to bumper traffic” (A true rarity for us Los Angeleans). And yet, how many times do we actually say it to that person, or wave and express the gratitude to the car behind us? I would challenge you to think about all the kind thoughts you have, that you are hesitant to express. Or maybe too cynical to give a second thought to? We think, “Carl was really nice to me at work today” and before we can say the word kindness the automatic second thought is “I wonder what he wants”. Maybe we avoid saying thank you because we’re too busy judging motives.
Or maybe it’s because you don’t know the person and walking up to them and telling them they have beautiful eyes may (in some area codes) be sufficiently creepy and warrant a stalker arrest. But maybe you do have the opportunity, to say thank you to “Suzy” for ringing up your groceries (they do wear name tags for a reason by the way: use their names!) Yes it’s Suzy’s job, and yes you may have waited 15 extra minutes because she was chatting with Joe the bag-person the whole time but nevertheless: you and Suzy have interacted. You have connected in some way, and she has, as small of a role as it may be, affected change in your life. There is something to be thankful for to Suzy. There is something to be said.
After all, we are on this earth, living these lives together for a reason. No one is an island. We all can help and support each other and we all need help and support. And the more thankful we are for it, the more we will probably get. And the more we get the help, the more we give.
There is always something to be thankful for, so let’s vow to not live a life in which we can think back and say “I never said thank you for that, now I’ll never have the chance”. Because the truly scary thing is that if you don’t make it a habit to recognize and be thankful for the small things, you may be missing the big things. The big thank yous. The thank you for the parent who was on your side no matter what, even if you were wrong. The thank you for the friend whose shoulder you cried on and stained black with your mascara after the big break-up. The way your co-worker stood up for you instead of throwing you under the bus in front of your boss. To the ones who were there for you: in the heartache, pain, sweat, tears. That helped you grow into the “lucky, strong, and proud” person you are today.
Say thank you for that, you never know when you won’t have the chance.