Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu, Japan

November 27, 2016

Thank You

The cold winds crawled over the mountain at night this past week, and just like that, Kyoto was left with bare branches against the pale blue of early winter.

In Japan, there's a word for these winds - kogarashi - and along with their leaf-taking and warmth-taking magic, I find they also leave something behind - a time to reflect.

In the US, this past Thursday was Thanksgiving, a time where people get together with family and friends, eat way, way, way too much rich food, and for one small day, pause and focus on gratitude.

For me, Thanksgiving means Steven's Famous Mashed Potatoes. My recipe is a secret, mostly because if anyone knew how much butter was in them, there'd be collateral damage to the conscience. But every year, no matter where I am, I make them and share them with the folks around me.

The mashed potatoes mark the start of a natural winding down and reflection time for me, to finish out the year.

This year, of course, I still have some big things coming in the weeks ahead - my book comes out next week(!!!) and after that, I have a big surprise planned for you and the other folks who read these letters. :)

But underneath it all, I can feel the slow, steady current tugging at me to pause, and to look back.

To remember that three years ago, I spent thanksgiving with some close friends and my beloved dog (who happily handled all the cleanup duties, and slept for hours afterward.)

That two years ago, I shared mashed potatoes with some brand-new friends in Thailand.

That last year, I mashed potatoes in a 25 gallon pot with a dear friend in the mountains of Utah.

This year, a small batch, shared with my favorite folks in Kyoto.

And next year? I have no idea.

2016 has been a crazy, wonderful year. By the time it's over, I will have lived on six continents and learned five languages. And every single Sunday, I've been able to share the heart of that journey with you.

And I am so, so grateful.

It is my immense privilege to get to live all over this planet. It's an even greater one to get to share it with you every week.

I know you have a million things jostling for your attention - notifications on your phone and family and friends and coworkers and is that someone at the door?

Thank you, deeply, for spending a few minutes of your wonderful and precious life with me each week.

Here's to the journey ahead. We're just getting started. :)

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week was this piece on a couple of new books that might make you rethink the future of language. They're written in Emoji.

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