Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. At least that’s how I feel today.
This is the day to do what we should do every day: give thanks, acknowledge our blessings, live with gratitude.
Marcus Aurelius begins Book One of Meditations with a gratitude list. Specifically, he thanks people who taught him virtue and helped shape his character.
For example, from Diognetus he learned “not to busy myself about trifling things.” Or, as David Lee Roth of Van Halen put it more than eighteen hundred years later, “Don’t sweat the little shit. And it’s all little shit.”
Aurelius views gratitude as medicine for all that inevitably challenges and chips away at us in life.
In the final quarter of the book, he advises, “All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.”
Consistent with the theme of gratitude, I recommend Ikigai: the Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles.
Ikigai, roughly translated, means “a reason for being,” or something akin to that. One reviewer said it means, “A reason to jump out of bed each morning.” I found it to be primarily about finding one’s mission in life. Whatever it means, the book is simple, short, and wise.
Many of the ideas and practices you will likely already know. Some may be new. Almost everything is useful.
Two other books I recommend are cited and discussed by the authors, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl and Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
I think I spelled the Mihaly’s surname name right? Flow is dense and brilliant and I may revisit it in a future blog post.
On the fiction front, I’m starting City of the Sun by David Levien, co-writer of Rounders with Brian Koppleman. Many years ago I reviewed David’s first novel, which turned out to be the harbinger of a remarkable career.
David and Brian currently have an awesome show on Showtime, Billions. I don’t watch TV but I’m watching this series. It’s smart and cool and completely absorbing.
Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin killed somewhere between three and ten million people in a man-made Ukrainian famine. Released in 2019 and available on Amazon, Mr. Jones tells the story of free lance journalist Gareth Jones who tried to expose the slaughter and, to a lesser extent, the story of New York Times journalist Walter Duranty who tried to cover it up.
Jones and Duranty square off in a competition between truth and fake news before the term entered our lexicon. George Orwell, the author of Animal Farm, appears as a minor character and perfect framing device.
Polish director Agnieszka Holland does a remarkable job of capturing the look and feel of the time and place with a low budget. She has won awards for her previous films about the Nazi holocaust.
I won’t tell you what happens to Jones. You can watch the movie.
On a more upbeat note, my ten-year-old daughter Sloane and I are psyched this holiday season to watch Elf with Will Ferrell for the eleventh time.
I’m pleased to report I’m rolling on a new novel. The story is coming together and I’m feeling the same buzz I had writing Never Mind Nirvana. I’ll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, life and law are also keeping me busy as I work at home during the pandemic. For more frequent updates, join my Lawyer Mark Lindquist Facebook Group and follow my Author & Attorney Facebook page if you haven’t already. I’ve also been posting on Instagram, my preferred social media. I appreciate the comments and messages, thank you.
I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, your own Ikigai, and a season of gratitude all year long.
Thanks for reading.