On New Year’s Eve I waited with several friends to watch Rose Parade floats being towed along Huntington Drive. We were seated in a car parked at San Marino High School plowing through two boxes of See’s candy and dissecting our dinner at Gus’s BBQ. Then one friend mentioned a gathering she had just attended at a South Pasadena home where she had met a new author celebrating his book. She sensed he was “…a really nice, nice man.”
“New author?” said I, holding the See’s momentarily. I can’t help myself. I am enamored of the local lit scene. Now here comes a book by our latest Pasadena-area author, John Kralik. Its title is 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life. It’s a petite memoir and meditation that contains a lot in a little.
Vroman’s Bookstore stocks the book. Its cover is dominated by blue, but at center there sits a red mailbox on a white post resembling a match from afar, a match waiting to be struck. But a match’s bright flare is better utilized when transferred to the slower, softer glow of a candle.
Under the harsh glare of resentment, self-loathing, and anger, Mr. Kralik, a judge, starts to examine the events of his life. As he realizes that negativity and disconnection are rapidly consuming any chance for happiness, he also hears a mystical reminder, while walking in the San Gabriels, that he MUST learn gratitude. He vows to himself that he will take action: He will handwrite a series of thank-you notes to others for an entire year. Now whether the act of writing propels gratitude or the gratitude promotes writing is moot to me. The reward is Mr. Kralik’s subtle change in attitude, and then in behavior, and then an incandescent peace that his book reveals. As his self-scrutiny process burrows deeper inside, the reader realizes this, too, is me; I too bear loss and disaster, and yet we all must live. How can we light the way for ourselves? How can we live with integrity and grace?
What is unusual about this book is that it lacks archness. It is forthright and generous, implying that any of us can rediscover our balance. Maybe the hope and the actuality of change for the better are unsung benefits of middle age.
John Kralik will discuss his book at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, on Wednesday, January 26 at 7 p.m.