I recently learned that one of my essays made the finals for a creative non-fiction contest at a national literary journal. Whoohoo! The same day, I heard from my younger son that he received a huge raise. Another whoohoo!
My son had obviously memorised what his boss said when informing Noah about the raise. Like water on thirsty soil, the terms ‘material recognition of your contributions’ and ‘your increasing managerial acumen’ hit someplace deep inside him. And I absolutely get it.
For the most part, no one sends you great letters when your writing is accepted at a journal. So we submit to contests, writers. Because that’s kind of like a nice speech. It means someone GOT what you had to say. Which, when you’re writing from a childhood that isn’t like almost anyone else’s, means a lot.
It’s beyond wonderful when what you do, what you’ve learned to do well, what you’ve devoted your education and professional commitment to, receives accolades. I may not win this contest, but that’s okay. Really. Because someone likes my stuff! and for my son, who honestly thought he might N&E a victim of the economy? This was SO much better than what he feared!
I try to offer genuine affirmation to everyone I meet who deserves it. And most folks do, actually. What makes me sad is how startled & embarrassingly grateful the general service employee is to be thanked. A Starbucks employee gave me free coffee several times at a hotel I stayed in for a conference, just because I didn’t yell at her about the lack of choices (some equipment was broken — sooo not her fault!). The owner of the small Asian fusion restaurant I ate at when I worked gave me free lunch the other day, just because she said I was her friend.
This isn’t a post saying I’m so cool. Instead, I hope that today, as you go through your everyday life, you remember to thank the people who help make it easier: the drycleaner, the barista, your daycare worker, the FedEx guy who brings your Amazon goodies. Chances are, no one else will. And it will mean almost as much to them as a raise. Or a finalist email.