You know how it is at the Oscars, when the winner lumbers or skips (or stumbles) up there and insists on thanking everyone? It’s a giant snore, and after a few names the winner is booted off the stage. Who wants to hear about their mother (of course!), grandmother, garbage man, agent, nursery school teacher, their yoga teacher (well, yes!) and everyone else who made their movie possible?
I finally understand that need for the effusive thank you litany; after all, anyone who has ever created anything (and that includes a baby!) knows that he/she didn’t do it alone. Getting up on stage, to the podium, is a way to openly acknowledge that fact, to put it right out there that all your hard work was supported and uplifted by a host of people and energies known and unknown (including the Big One—the Universe).
This week, my memoir about yoga and breast cancer (Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman’s Quest for Balance, Strength & Inner Peace) comes out. It includes almost three pages of acknowledgments, thanking everyone from a boy I was fond of in fourth grade to my surgeon and my hairdresser. Did I get carried away? Absolutely not! It’s been my dream since I was five years old to write a book of my own creation (I have written other books supporting others’ dreams), and though I did the hard work of writing and re-writing (a zillion times) I was supported along the way by so many who cheered me on, urging me not to give up, offering ideas, opinions, critiques, and hugs. Thanking them all profusely is the icing on a cake that has been very long in the baking. (As my best friend mentioned the other day, she is so ready for this “baby” to be born. I totally concur, having been pregnant with this particular “child” for eight years from pen to publication.)
At one point in the production schedule, I received an advance copy of the book, which did not include the acknowledgments. For a brief moment, I thought I would expire. I swiftly contacted the publishing company and asked what happened. Oh, don’t worry, I was assured: The acknowledgments will be in the final version. “Well, that’s a darned good thing,” I barked via email, “because for me, the thank-yous are almost as—if not more—important than the book itself!”
Why this need to thank others? Of course, I know it is my story, and my writing. And those who won the Oscars and other awards know that they did the running, the acting, the composing etc. But they also know—just as I do—that there were so, so many turning points when they could have given up. And if it had not been for the family members, friends, and strangers who stepped up to say, “Yo! Carry on!” that work of writing, music, dance, or whatever, would never, ever have come to fruition.
I will never zone out on the thank-you’s at the Oscars again. In fact, I would like to hear fewer jokes and more thank-you’s in the future. And if I have neglected your name in my book’s acknowledgments please know that I am grateful, whether you were the waitress who handed me a delicious cappuccino on a day when I was feeling discouraged or a writer I have always admired (I can’t even remember the name of my nursery school teacher---oh, wait a moment, I didn’t go to nursery school!). We are all, I believe, in loving debt to everyone who has touched our lives.
With my deepest gratitude to all … Namaste.