Most authors stick the acknowledgements behind the last page of the book.
Most directors cut to the credit roll after the final shot of the film.
Most waiters expect the tip to come at the end of the meal.
Canonically, gratitude is something we save until the end. But, we think, always ready to provide a conditional before what should be regarded as unconditional, I need a reason to express my heartfelt thanks. If the service sucked, if the movie was lousy, then why should I be thankful? Ah, yes, the side effects of the ‘please keep your gratitude inside yourself at all times during the ride’ mentality.
I love movies with opening credits. Opening credits reveal how pessimistic, cynical, impatient, and ungrateful people are. “Get on with it!” we shout, as if the silver screen has any bearing of consciousness. “God, these credits last forever…” we remark, loudly, hoping that the other moviegoers can hear and nod with us in agreement. And when the opening credits are “finally over,” we let out a sigh of relief. Because now we’re getting what we paid for.
Of course the moviegoer doesn’t pay to watch the opening credits. They pay to watch the movie. A director is like an entrepreneur. The director makes a product (movie). The director sells the movie to a studio. The studio sells the movie to the theatre (retailer). Customers (the audience) go to the theatre to purchase the movie (product). The movie makers job, like the entrepreneur, is to give their customers what they want (even if they don’t know what they want). What they want is action. Drama. Romance. Betrayal. Triumph. They don’t want gratitude. They don’t care about how many hours it took the key animators and storyboard artists and set designers to perfect every shot from every angle for every second of a 2 and a half hour long movie. Hold off on your mushy public display of heartfelt thanks until everyone is out of the theatre. The credits can wait. The customers, though, they’ve waited long enough.
Sticking the credits at the beginning is a radical decision that flies in the face of everything we’ve been taught about expressing appreciation for our friends, peers, and family. I understand why you wouldn’t want to do this. I’ve skipped over dozens of acknowledgements and forwards so that I could read the book I paid for. I fast forward through podcast sponsorships and thankful preambles. Listening to people talk about their support group is a waste of time, just get to the good stuff! I’m trying to be productive here! Come on, let’s go! – Like I stated earlier, this is a mindset I need to snap myself out of more often. And what was that I said just a moment ago? The good stuff can wait? Did I mean all the snappy sound bites, the aphorisms and phrases I already agree with, the trivia I’ve already memorized? Is that really all there is to the “good stuff?” If I’ve placed gratitude on the sidelines, then, yes. Center stage is where I’ll place all the snappy soundbites and trivia that I’ve already memorized. I have no time for your appreciation of your fans. I have lessons that I need to learn. Knowledge that I need to gain. Information that I need to internalize! — As if gratitude didn’t make it into my curriculum. As if the people we admire are so powerful, so ‘self-made’ that they do it all themselves, without any help from peers, friends, or family.
The pursuit of improvement traps us into believing that improvement is a lone wolf’s journey.
It’s not. It never is.
Get on with it!
Start the damn movie already!
Just get to the good stuff!
The good stuff can wait.
Gratitude, though, gratitude has waited long enough.