• Bill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 6/11/21 – Dinner and a Movie


“Simple things relieve eyes; simple things ease mind, simple things create meditation, simple things are simply miraculous!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan


Last week, Julie and I went out to see a late afternoon matinee and have dinner. It was a wonderful evening. This was the first time we went on an arts date since the pandemic hit. The weekend before the lockdown we went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It left such an impression on Julie; she painted this Plague Raven after looking at a woodblock from the 15th Century referencing the Black Death. As pictured above, the theater was near deserted. After I took this picture, a woman came in a sat about ten rows behind us. The venue, the Banko Cinema at Artquest in Bethlehem PA is a community treasure. It is nestled in the old Bethlehem Steel Industrial site around which the town was built. I hope more people return to this and other independent theaters for movies, we need to support them, and the arts in general. Arts are essential for our wellbeing.


They always have really good movies, the one we saw was Dream Horse with Toni Collette and Damian Lewis. It was released last year, but the showing of it was delayed due to the pandemic. It is a true story of a down on its luck town. Its blue-collar citizens band together and raise a racehorse by scraping together a few pounds every week for two years. A feel-good movie about the power of people to come together and the importance of hope and purpose. Repetitive themes I think are important for healing what ails us a people. The next movie we will see is Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It. A true story about how she overcame the odds, stereotypes and served as an inspiration for a generation of Hispanic actors and actresses. It looks amazing.


After the movie we went out to dinner, and it was all an oddly emotional experience. It would have been an average pre-pandemic normal date night out. It was such a nice evening. A thing we may not have thought twice about in those times before the great isolation. It was an amazing night that will long be memorable. Something that seemed so unlikely at this time last year. It has me thinking about the small things in life and how we may not value them properly.


Perhaps we have prioritized things incorrectly in our society. We tend to value material things in ways that seem to make us less happy as a people. As psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote in his book The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less, “modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don't seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.” We focus on the acquisition of things rather than the simplicity of what we have or a nice evening. I recall an article from The Guardian a few years back examining why too much choice is stressing us out. I also remember reading a story about custom made jeans that left customers with dozens of choices to make when deciding on which ones to purchase. They often left dissatisfied, feeling like they made the wrong choice. Stressed by abundance of choice. We are in many ways victims of our own success as a nation. Perhaps if we reflect, the pause we just went through will have some silver linings.


The Pandemic was a time of profound stress, upheaval, and loss. It also slowed the world down and led to us living smaller lives. The paradox of abundance. Too much choice can make us miserable and the vague sense we should have made another one of the myriads of choices. Increased choice also leads to an escalation in expectations which can be a real set up for unhappiness.


I recall relishing our small backyard as it came to life last spring. COVID-19 narrowed my focus of choice and opportunity. I had to find and enjoy smaller things as I had significantly less choice in what I could do and where I could go. The world is very chaotic post pandemic, even more so than before. Maybe we have some new life lessons that can help us be happy despite such dynamics, which could end up turning the world around in the long run.


Recovery for me has led to a process of self-examination, and the hidden gifts of difficult times. Grateful for the simple joy of going out to a movie and dinner with the love of my life, Julie Miller. What are the life lessons in front of my nose? Date nights, a walk in the woods and time with friends are some of the things to give higher priority in my post pandemic life. Treasures in hand. As the song goes, these are the good old days, even when they may not feel that way day in and day out. Grateful for such days, I hope for many more of them. As a person in recovery, I very much consider myself on a bonus round every day already!


What are you grateful for today?

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