gratitude word cloud - gratitude, appreciation, thankful, appreciate, thank youIn the way that only a series of completely random thoughts can, just before my morning meditation the thought of E.T. inexplicably crossed my mind. And I thought how that movie still wrecks me the same way it did when it first came out over 30 years ago. It also still makes me laugh and smile with the joy of a young teenager (I was 14 when it was first released).

My thoughts then drifted to many of Steven Spielberg‘s other films over the years – from Raiders and Schindler’s List to Amistad, War Horse and Tin Tin and so many others, and how I loved each of them for very different reasons.

E.T. - The Extraterrestrial, Directed by Steven SpielbergThese were my thoughts as I drifted into my meditation. Rather than getting to the place of no thought, my meditation became one of  appreciation for Spielberg – for the way he has shared his remarkable gifts and talents with the world; for the way he evokes not only a sense of compassion in his audience through his movies, but a profound awareness of the depths of that compassion; for his remarkable storytelling abilities; for the heroes and anti-heroes in his movies, and for the ride he takes us on through his films. I have to admit that I’ve not quite yet gotten to the point of appreciation for the shark in Jaws, and that’s my own work to do!

I had quite the gratitude “buzz” when I was done – it felt good to appreciate someone who I don’t even know so fully and completely for the way they show up in the world. I’m sure he already has a sense of the profound impact he’s had through his art, and I felt impelled to write this short post to document it.

Raiders of the Lost Ark movie posterMany years ago I read a critique of Spielberg’s work that called out the way he “manipulates” (I believe that was the word that was used) his audience, as if he were a puppet master pulling various strings. My sense is that he just makes people aware of the depths of emotions they have, that most are not even aware of themselves. That makes some people uncomfortable; I, on the other hand, think we’re better off for it.

In America, in particular, we’re not often comfortable with uncomfortable emotions. We’re often taught that it’s not good to express anger, or even be angry in some cases. Confrontation of any sort, in general, is considered bad. When friends or loved ones are in the midst of a grieving process that we feel has gone on too long, we sometimes think to ourselves – “they just need to get over that already and move on.” It can be uncomfortable for us to give people the space to express, or even just be with, their emotions, without judgment because that forces into our awareness uncomfortable feelings and emotions about ourselves and our own lives.

So to Steven Spielberg, thank you for doing what you do, for sharing your gifts and talents with the world, for shining your light, for bringing extraordinary characters and their stories to life, and for helping us to go deeper into our emotions and recognizing the exquisite beauty of all of them.

And to everyone else reading this – thank you for the unique and special way in which you show up in the world. The world wouldn’t be the same without you!

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