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Danielle Sobkin

Crying Thank You

(Image courtesy of author)
(Image courtesy of author)

“Thank you.” 

These two words, simple in their construct yet profound in their depth, have always resonated with me in a way that’s hard to explain. Growing up, I treated them with a reverence akin to sacred mantras, using them sparingly yet deliberately, like rare gems that lose their luster if overused. Their absence felt like a piercing void, a silent echo in the cacophony of daily interactions.

The world outside my childhood window often seemed bleak and unforgiving, a monochrome landscape where my family’s vibrant cultural pulsing through my veins felt out of place. Despite this, I chose to paint my life with the colors of optimism, making a conscious effort to view every person and every situation through a lens tinted with hope. And in this spectrum of positivity, “thank you” became my recurrent hue, a phrase I imbued with sincerity every time I spoke it. 

This ritual, almost sacred in its observance, often draws a mix of amusement and bemusement from those around me. Like the time my Mom, her eyes twinkling with a blend of affection and jest, questioned my “thank you” over something as mundane as a cup of coffee. To her, it was just a steaming blend of beans and water, but to me, it was a warm gesture, deserving of heartfelt thanks. The steam rising from the cup, the rich aroma, the comforting warmth – they were all part of the moment that warranted appreciation.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t always like this. 

I remember the day my brother reminded me of the profound nature of gratitude. I was nine, maybe ten, my heart heavy with the disappointment of a less-than-perfect violin recital. We were sitting in a restaurant celebrating the occasion (or at least trying to). I was in a terrible mood. I didn’t want to eat, didn’t want to talk, and refused to listen to anyone around me. When we were walking out of the restaurant, my brother looked at me and said, “you didn’t even say thank you”. It was as if the world had paused, allowing the gravity of his words to sink in. That moment, with its palpable tension and sudden introspection, was a turning point for me. For Maks, those were just words intended to change my attitude and behavior, but to me it changed everything. 

We often dispense “thank you” in our daily encounters – a mechanical response to the Trader Joe’s cashier, a reflexive utterance to the Starbucks barista. These instances are like fleeting brushstrokes on the vast canvas of life, often lacking genuine emotion. But the essence of gratitude is more than these ephemeral expressions.

I recently finished Eli Rallo’s book “I Didn’t Know I Needed This”. And it taught me alot, redefining my relationship and perspective on romance, friendship, love, sex (sorry Mom), and even myself. Each chapter felt like opening a door to a new realm of understanding. It felt strangely exhilarating to be holding this book in my hands, especially after having interviewed Eli years back on my highschool podcast. I remember asking her where she hoped her literary adventures would take her and she responded, “everywhere”. True to her words, the book radiated her vibrant energy and dynamic personality in every line. It was a great book, a book I hope to have my daughter read one day.  But, curiously, it wasn’t the book’s core that brought me to tears – it was something else entirely, waiting right at the end.

There I was, nestled in the comforting embrace of my college apartment, about ten pages left of the book. The room was steeped in silence, save for the occasional whisper of wind. My navy blue sheets, soft and familiar, enveloped me in a gentle hug, a contrast to the turmoil of emotions welling up inside me. As I turned each page of the acknowledgments, a profound sense of connection washed over me.

Tears began to trace paths down my cheeks, not in sorrow, but in recognition of the raw, unfiltered gratitude pouring out from the pages. Each word of thanks was more than mere ink on paper; they were the very essence of heartfelt appreciation, echoing with a depth and sincerity that resonated deeply. It was as if each expression of gratitude leapt from the page, weaving its way into the fabric of my being, reminding me of the profound power hidden within those two simple words: “thank you.” I imagine my own acknowledgements. The cascade of thank you’s I owe to all the people who’ve touched my life. The thank you’s that remained unsaid, the ones uttered without the depth they deserved, and those that brought a sense of lightness and relief to my soul.

In that quiet room, surrounded by the hum of my thoughts and the soft rustle of pages turning, I found myself connecting with every name mentioned, every gesture of thanks given. It was a moment of revelation, a stark reminder of the countless invisible threads of gratitude that bind us all in this complex journey of life.

It struck me then, just like it did nearly ten years ago while walking out of that restaurant. It’s not the mechanical ‘thank you’ we mumble to the barista as we grab our morning coffee, though such politeness has its place. I’m talking about the ‘thank you’ that comes from the depths of our hearts – the kind that acknowledges the silent, often unseen, acts of kindness and support that shape our lives. Your parents paying for dinner. Your Mom buying you a cup of coffee. It doesn’t have to be life changing, sometimes it’s the simple things taken for granted. This form of gratitude isn’t just about the words; it’s about the emotions behind them – the warmth that spreads through your chest, the slight tremble in your voice, the genuine smile that reaches your eyes.

In the rush of our daily lives, where words often flutter by unnoticed, let ‘thank you’ be the phrase that lingers. These two words, simple yet profound, have the power to transform moments, to turn the mundane into something memorable. In embracing the true essence of gratitude, we not only acknowledge the value of others in our lives but also affirm our role in this interconnected world.

So thank you. 

Really… 

Thank you for caring enough to read this. Your attention and time, in a world constantly vying for it, mean more than you might realize.

About the Author
Danielle Sobkin is a student at the University of California, Berkeley pursuing a double major in Data Science and Economics. With a deep connection to the global Jewish community, she has served on the Hillel International Student Cabinet (HISC) and works as a Data Scientist with Jewish on Campus (JOC). As the daughter of Soviet refugees and a first-generation student, Danielle draws inspiration from her unique background and aims to connect with others through her writing. She is passionate about conveying the importance of Jewish Joy in everyday life and creating a more inclusive and understanding community.
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