Thanksgiving offers chance to recognize small, meaningful moments

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we’ve got turkey on the brain, family penciled into our schedules and appreciation pumping through our hearts. We’re primed to take the holiday to reflect on the year and count our blessings. Everyone focuses on friends, family and health, but we should take note to appreciate something we often dismiss: the unexpected, fleeting moments of bliss we are gifted with every so often.

This past summer, I interned at a theater in Los Angeles. I figured being in California would be a good opportunity to study improv at well-known studio The Groundlings, so I signed up for a summer class. On the first day, I met Noa, an acting student at California State University at Fullerton, and we became instant friends. Throughout the summer, we did every touristy thing imaginable, from the Griffith Observatory to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We even drove an hour south to a city called Dana Point, just because it shared my name.

We spoke several times about how much we loved San Francisco and wished we could go, but the drive was just too far – six hours at least. On my last day, we were driving up north to visit Malibu. I had 24 hours before my flight and it suddenly occurred to us that, if we left right away, we could at least have a little time to visit San Francisco. So, with the clothes on our backs and no place to stay, we continued north to San Francisco. And this impromptu road trip was, hands down, the highlight of my summer.

Every moment was unplanned, and every decision was a visceral response to what was right in front of us. As we started driving through the Redwood Forest, we decided to take a detour and visit Monterey Bay. When we were on our way back to LA, we passed the Golden Gate Bridge and decided to drive over it — even though it was in the wrong direction. These glimmers of spontaneity can be some of the best moments of our lives. They make us realize that the world has so much more in store for us than what we can anticipate.

So when the stuffing is coming your way around the table and your relatives are bubbling with passive aggression over opposing political views, I encourage you to give thanks for the year’s blissful moments that you never saw coming. Think about that time you happened across kittens on the green, saw the first traces of Christmas on the Starbucks menu or made a new friend at the gym. And, hopefully, start to muse about the exciting experiences ahead.

Dana Munro is a sophomore majoring in musical theater.

Featured photo courtesy pixabay user dh_creative.