Fishbowl o’ Gratitude

The thing about staying in a high-rise hotel in downtown Chicago is that, without seeming creepy or voyeuristic, you get these interesting glimpses into the lives of others.

I took a break from my primping routine this morning and opened my blinds, coffee in hand, to look out at the skyline that surrounded me. I watched some construction workers toil in the cold, Illinois air; they were working on top of a building, and I imagined how frigid the breeze off Lake Michigan must’ve been.

This afternoon at the focus group facility, I looked down from the 7th floor and saw a tiny Mini Cooper with its checkerboard roof zoom around a corner; I wondered where it was going. I saw people hustling down Michigan Avenue during their lunch break, and looked across the street into a neighboring skyscraper, only to see boring, white offices with nary a poster, devoid of trinkets and with robots slaving away.

I noticed the lack of creativity, the absence of color — both literally and figuratively. It made me appreciate for a moment, regardless of how chaotic the advertising world may be at times, my job.

This evening, my co-workers and I shared a beverage at Whiskey Sky atop the W Hotel. We took in our surroundings: the immaculate bar, the odd and tres swinger-esque couples, the skyline. We looked out into high-rises that were new to our gaze, and we saw a man on one floor of a condo building engaged in a lively phone conversation. We saw another man a floor above Mr. Lively, his face illuminated by the computer screen that he was glued to. I looked up a few floors and saw a cluttered residence, worthy of a Hoarders episode.

The funny thing about life in general is that if we pause to behold the world around us, it inspires a gratitude that we never knew. My life, while quiet, prone to routine and with a propensity for cocooning myself and being a homebody, is uninspiring to most…but comfortable to me. And today as I glimpsed the lives of others mere blocks from where I’m staying, I felt a new respect for my peaceful existence and took comfort in the fact that while as interesting (or not) as others’ lives may be around me, mine is my own — for better or for worse. I can change it if I want to, can leave it alone if I want to, and go to sleep each night — assuming I’ve done those things — knowing it’s exactly as I want it to be.

Tonight I am thankful for the power of influence over my own life, and for the ability to make it what I want — either due to inspiration from others, or from my silent, peaceful dreams each night.

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