A parable about gratitude that blew my mind

Jack's Great Day. Art credit: Tim Urban for waitbutwhy.com

I spent part of my turkey digestion period reading messages of thanks from all across the blogosphere. Many touched me, but none took me aback like this post from my new favorite blog, Wait But Why.

From Life Is A Picture, But You Live In A Pixel:

So while thousands of Jack's Todays will, to an outsider from far away, begin to look like a complete picture, Jack spends each moment of his actual reality in one unremarkable Today pixel or another. Jack's error is brushing off his mundane Wednesday and focusing entirely on the big picture, when in fact the mundane Wednesday is the experience of his actual life

You need to read the entire post to get the full impact of that quote, but the bottom life is this: plan for the big picture but live for and appreciate today. Now.

Metaphors and images that blew my mind and/or made me smile:

  • Comparing the days of our lives to pixels in a picture
  • Thinking of "today" and "tomorrow" as fantasy relationship partners with different levels of attractiveness (or were they illusions all along?)
  • Seeing a Care Bear distracted by his mobile phone

If you're mired in the minutae of family life — the dishes and the sleepnessness and the uncertainty — it's a bracing message, at the same time sobering and comforting. You've heard it before, but not quite like this.

I'm a sucker for a good metaphor AND a good parable.  Thank you, Tim and Andrew. This one will stay with me for a long time.


  1. says

    Glad you liked the post, Asha! I’ve tried to embrace the pixel all week—it’s pretty unnatural, but probably the most important thing to remember to do. Thanks for spreading the message.


  2. Asha Dornfest (Parent Hacks) says

    Tim: “Embrace the pixel.” That has ALWAYS been the hardest thing for me to do…me who loves to fly above the big picture noting the patterns and connections, but often missing (or ignoring) the details on the ground.

    Your post touched me on two levels…as a human AND as a writer online who wants to create quality, life-enhancing stuff that truly helps people. You guys are DOING IT and it’s SO refreshing.