I’m always surprised by the abundance of colour at this time of year. The trees and sunsets turning red and gold. The mountains of fresh apples, figs, pears and pumpkins at the market and on the kitchen table. The arrays of fairy lights we string up to ease the transition to fewer and fewer hours of sunlight. For a season that paves the way to a grey and bare winter, autumn provides plenty to appreciate.
But this time last year, I felt I’d had enough of 2016. Socially and politically, it had been a year of anxiety and turmoil, and it wasn’t over yet. It felt like the darkness closing in was more than just a seasonal event. I braced myself for a long, cold winter.
Then, at the beginning of 2017, I started to journal. Nothing fancy—just one line every night before going to sleep, one thing that day which made me happy. I figured that if things got really bad, it would help to think about something I could be grateful for—sharing a pizza with friends, taking a walk in the fog, picking chillies in the garden, watching a good film.
I began to realise that even in times of insecurity and instability, there’s a lot to be thankful about. It’s a pretty major revelation for someone who was born into middle class America, grew up in the excess of the eighties, and came of age in the dotcom bubble—someone who never really wanted or suffered. Winston Churchill said, “We are stripped bare by the curse of plenty.” Even when we have a lot, we never have enough.
It’s easy in troubled times to think about what’s missing—what we’d like more of, what we want to be different, what we wish was better. And those desires can be valid. But it helps to appreciate all that we have too.
That’s what this issue of Thoughtful is all about. Taking comfort in the little things—a kind gesture, or a small personal item that’s filled with meaning, or the perfect song to reflect our mood. Remembering that the long haul matters more than the short run. Making the most of what we’ve got and measuring our wealth through the accumulation of experience rather than stuff. And when the season inevitably compels us to exchange stuff, valuing places and things that reflect a generosity of spirit, not merely of quantity.
In this season of plenty, I’m grateful for all the big and little things that have brought me comfort and cheer in times of disquiet—including the generous and talented team that came together to make this issue of Thoughtful magazine possible, and all of you who enjoy and share what we do. Thank you.
Daianna Karaian, October 2017